Oh bloody Tesco!

April 16, 2011

When will I learn? Bloody Tesco! Is it their aim to give middle-aged pedants like me heart attacks? Are they wilfully immoral? Are they crooks?

They are most certainly disingenuous.

After paying and then seeing (yet again) that I had been conned, I queued at the queuing place; an area, perhaps unsurprisingly, where there is always a queue.

My gripe? I’m shopping in Manchester for my mum and I’d taken up the Tesco’s current stir fry offers. So far, so good. I also bought some meat; pork and beef. Each pack with a large sticker on it declaring “any two for £6”. Individually they were £3.50 each. I was charged £7, not £6.

At the counter I have to empty my bags, like being stopped by Customs and Excise. Even Tesco; especially Tesco; should realise that after the ordeal of going around one of their stores we all feel like we do after a long haul flight; please, don’t make us empty our bags, just let us get home to sleep.

Tesco lag.

The customer person explains that I didn’t get my meats for £6 because I bought two different meats. To get two for £6 you have to buy two the same. So… they’re not “any two for £6”? Yes, she explains, they are, as long as they’re the same two. So that’s not any? Is it? Am I mad? Shouldn’t the sticker say “two for £6”?

I sigh like a man desperate for death, and tell the poor woman that Tesco is at best “disingenuous”. I then walk away.

Out in the car park I feel bad; bad for being a bit narked with a member of staff who can’t be compared to the cheap old line of ‘just following orders’ and bad because yet again Tesco have made me feel worthless in not standing up for myself. I go back, queue, and then apologise to her for being a bit grumpy. Then, nicely, I ask her if she’ll pass my thoughts on, because I do feel that Tesco creates deliberately ambiguous policies when it comes to their special offers. She agrees and tells me that they often have to deal with these kind of complaints.

DO YOU HEAR THAT TESCO? YOUR STAFF AGREE THAT YOU SET OUT TO TRICK CUSTOMERS AND THAT YOUR PHRASING ON SPECIAL OFFERS IS, AT BEST, DISINGENUOUS.

Although, to be fair, the member of the staff didn’t use the D word.

Tesco, you are crooks.

Any: one or more without specification or identification.

It would be nice for any member of Tesco’s staff to respond to this. Of course, when I say any, I mean David Reid.

Do you like driving around? I do. I know it’s bad and we shouldn’t do it; not just for the hell of it anyway. I do my best by to try and tie it into a trip.

I’m staying up in Manchester, looking after my mum as she recovers from an operation.  Over in Sheffield lives my lovely Zoe. So last night I drove there, and today I drove back.

And it’s one of the best drives you can do. It’s 80 miles long and 80 minutes long. And you only use two roads; the M62 and the M1.

How do I even begin to describe how joyous this journey is?

Of course, for me, it’s a win-win situation; either coming or going. On the one hand I get to see Zoe and on the other hand… Wait! Let me tell you about my mum’s car.

I’m using it while I’m up here, and, if you’re thinking of doing any driving around, I recommend you use my mum’s car too. Or, for the best, your own mum’s. Here’s why: Free petrol!

Also, you can have fun rooting through your mum’s cassettes. Who knew my mum had Home by Terry Hall? Most likely not my mum. I doubt she’s ever listened to it.

I should have known, since my writing was all over the old TDK thing (the other side was a hideous mix of M People and Blur; what was I thinking? Did I really make this compilation? Yes! When? IDK).

So… get into your mum’s Toyota Starlet, put in Home, and head off.

Here’s the main joys:

1- It’s a sunny journey. The weather is absolutely beautiful.*

2- No matter where you are;  on the M1 or the M62, coming or going; you can always see Emley Moor transmitting station.

It’s foolish to take photos whilst driving, so here’s one of the majestic big stick thing by Tim Green.

Emly Moor (Image: Tim Green)

It’s dangerous on so many levels to take photos at 70mph. It may well be illegal. That’s why I didn’t take these photos this morning.

not taken by me today, as I drove

Nor this

These pics bring me on to joy 4:

4- The bridges. The ones above are good, but they’re not the best. There are some truly beautiful bridges along the M1. I think they were built during stage 2 of the M1’s construction, in the 1960’s; gorgeous and simple asymmetric, white concrete designs. In need of a coat of paint, yes, but in the sun they still shine. I didn’t get any pictures, but take a look at them here at The Motorway Archive.

5- The M62. A glorious road from Liverpool to Hull; this stretch taking in the highest point of any motorway in the UK at Windy Hill. And also passing Stott Hall Farm, immortalised here by John Shuttleworth:

6- The pigs. I only caught a glimpse of them. But as the M1 joins the M62, look to your left, see the free range pigs.

I’m sure there’s lots more to enjoy.

Oh yes! One of those motorway lighting up signs declaring Think bike; think biker. Now, the thing is, the truth, I don’t really like that. It’s just that it reminded me of the original Think once, think twice, think bike.

Years later I adpated the slogan for my own entertainment, coming up with think once, think twice, think nice.

Here’s what I was listening to. Terry Hall proving he’s the best James Bond we’ve never had.

*not always.

This is what Crumpsall means. So Wikipedia says. Wikipedia also informs me that Don Estelle, Jason Orange, and Myra Hindley were all born in Crumpsall. I lived in Crumpsall as a boy, moving there when I was 11 and staying until I left home to go to university. In Manchester. I moved from Manchester to Manchester.

I never missed Crumpsall.

I don’t really know where Crumpsall is. If you were to say to someone, “I’ll meet you in Crumpsall” you’d be hard pressed to pick a landmark. There’s no centre. It’s just streets and emptiness, bordered by the more lively Cheetham Hill and the comparatively swanky Prestwich.

My defining Crumpsall moment came when I was 15 years old. I was off to the shops at Cheetham Hill for my mum. I was walking along, possibly skipping (it was the kind of thing I did, still do). I was certainly whistling. Whistling the latest big hit, I Will Survive. Three lads surrounded me. One of them asked me the time. I told him. He said “let me see”. I held up my wrist and he said “that’s not the time”. Then he hit me. Hard. Hard enough to knock me out.

I spent four days in hospital. I effectively had plastic surgery. A nose job. I went around for the next few weeks with a plaster cast on my nose held in place with a big ‘X’ of sticking plaster.

Perhaps the most shocking thing was the police. They asked if they could have a word with me, alone, away from my parents. When my mum and dad had left the living room they asked me: “We know what you’ve told your mum and dad, but what did you do to provoke them?”

I was a very young 15 year old. An innocent in the world. Could whistling “I Will Survive” be seen as provocative?

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I’m back in Manchester now. Prestwich. Birthplace of 10cc, Victoria Wood, and home of local hero Mark E. Smith. Just for a short while. Looking after my mum as she gets better from an operation. She’s out of hospital now and doing well but she spent just under two weeks in North Manchester General Hospital.

It used to be called Crumpsall Hospital. It’s in Crumpsall.

I’d been visiting twice a day but last Tuesday Janice and Kath went to see my mum in the afternoon, giving me a little break. So I went into town, saw The Adjustment Bureau, and then got the Metro to Crumpsall for the evening visiting session. Leaving the hospital at 8.20pm I headed back to the station. The first and only time I didn’t drive.

It’s a lonely old place, between the hospital and the Metro station. Where is Crumpsall? Even when you’re in it you are nowhere and there’s no one around.

Walking along Crumpsall Lane (where we lived over 30 years ago), past Hermitage Road (where I used to go for piano lessons from Miss Musgrave until I became old enough to tell my mum and dad I didn’t like playing the piano, I didn’t want piano lessons)… thinking these things… possibly inwardly whistling I Will Survive… not considering a skip this time.

Then something –  that sense –  moments before it happens. Maybe it makes you tense up in preparation… what is it? An instinct?

The lads must have crept along. In the shadows. Following and biding their time. And then an explosion behind me. A whack on the head. A rush and a push.

I go flying to the ground and my bag races ahead of me as they try to run away with it. But no, this cannot stand. I manage to keep hold and after a silly little struggle they run off. It could have been worse I suppose. They could have got my bag if they’d really wanted.

The two lads run, turn left down Station Road. Alone again. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know where to go. There is no one around. What if they come back? There is a shop just past Station Road. The Canny Scot, an off licence. I could head there, phone a taxi…

But I’m not going to let this get to me. I’m going home. on the Metro.

I turn down Station Road. Quiet. Empty. But well lit. And there are two lads. But these two are with a girl, coming from the Metro.

I stop and wait a moment, unsure what to do. One of the lads calls to me: “You alright?” I hesitate. “Something happened?”

I keep my distance but call to them: “Two lads just attacked me.”

One of the lads says he saw them run off up Station Road. He leaves a beat before adding: “Why not go after them, fight them?”

The other lad chips in; perfect Mancy sarcasm: “aww, got mugged did ya?”

I step further away, back towards the (maybe) safety of The Canny Scot. They head off back down Crumpsall Lane, away from me.

I go to the Metro. It’s empty apart from one lad sitting there, smoking, hood up. (When something happens; for a while, until normality returns; everyone is a threat).

I stand in the middle of a brightly lit platform, alone, waiting, imagining them coming back. Imagining myself dying on CCTV.

After 8 minutes that could have been 80, the Metro arrives. It’s packed and I get on, shaking.

Two stops later I get off at Heaton Park, head into The Ostrich, and get drunk.

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The next day, a little more collected, I realise I should tell the police. Nothing can be done for me, and I’m fine, but the police should know to keep an eye out. Many people may visit the hospital, many older than me. And many may have to rely on public transport.

I call in at the police station on Cheetham Hill. I tell the… I don’t know what? Was it an officer? Or just someone employed to speak to the public? They didn’t seem very, well, policey. The first thing she says is: “Why didn’t you call 999?” It’s a good question and I don’t have a good answer. I mutter something about having been ok, and having come from seeing my mum in hospital, maybe my head not being in the right place, maybe other things mattering more.

I give her some details which she jots down on a piece of blank paper. She says she will pass it on to an officer. She tells me again, in quite some kind of a tone, that I should have called 999. I guess so. I leave, heading straight on to the hospital. Visiting time again.

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And later I’m thinking; Shouldn’t some kind of statement have been taken? Shouldn’t she have asked my name? or noted my phone number? was I not reporting a crime? Should I not at least be a statistic?

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A crooked piece of land beside a river… sounds romantic, doesn’t it?