I used to work with a wonderful sub-editor called Garry Barker, a laconic, lurcher-owning, ale-drinking, cricket-loving Clash fan who used to be the opening bat for the Whitstable Labour Club XI.
Garry used to provide me with the odd nugget for a diary column I used to write.
One day, he was shopping in Waitrose in St George’s Place when he heard a child run up to his mother.
“Mummy, mummy,” the kid breathlessly wailed, “please may I have a croissant.”
Now Garry, being an English language perfectionist, was impressed that a seven-year-old was correct in his diction and grammar.
When he told me, however, my mind was immediately transported back to the old Key Markets on Sturry Road, where Asda is now, and to the 1980s memory of a harassed mother dragging three urchins around the store who were robotically chanting “we want crisps, we want crisps”.
It would hard to find a greater contrast between the young customers at the two stores. I daresay it extends well into adulthood, too.
Writing in the Spectator earlier this month, the journalist Rachel Johnson (you might have heard of her brother) revealed that there’s actually an archive of the most apposite utterances from the store. They include “I’ll never be able to lift all that San Pellegrino into the Range Rover” and “darling, do we need Parmesan for both the houses”.
With that, it’s quite clear that the best thing about Waitrose is the people who shop there.
So here’s a run down of the things they’ve said:
- Husband: “Non-organic apples, darling?” Wife: “Stop making a fuss. They’re for the horses.”
- “I’d never fly economy. I did it once and I was ill for weeks.”
- “Since they started to offer free coffee, it’s been like a soup kitchen in here.”
- “Please don’t rummage in the reduced bin darling, someone from the golf club might see you.”
- “Papa, mumma said to get the Chateau and not the Merlot.”
- “Excuse me, could you show me where the organic quinoa is please?”
- Man at Waitrose self-service checkout needing help: “Over here! Chop, chop!”
- Parent: “Do you want to choose some sweets?” Child: “No, daddy, no! I want brie and crackers.”
Think that says it all…