Our love affair with supermarkets? Lessons to be learned...

PUBLISHED: 13:10 21 May 2013 | UPDATED: 13:10 21 May 2013

Life is a trolley dash

Life is a trolley dash

Archant

With our love affair for the all-consuming supermarket growing ever stronger, sometimes we deserve exactly what we get, argues BBC Surrey presenter Nick Wallis, who has his own guilty secret to share

I have a guilty secret. I love supermarkets. Yes, I know many have been flogging us drugged-up horse flesh from Romania. But I love ‘em. Sue me.

Repackaging cute little ponies as beefburgers is not our supermarkets’ only sin. I’m well aware some farmers hate them, and the prospect of Tesco setting up shop in a Surrey village can turn even the most fervent free-enterprise evangelist into a quivering heap of nimbyfied indignation. But where else are you going to get lager and cashback at 11pm?

That’s not to say I don’t support independent retailers in principle and practice. Every Saturday morning on my BBC Surrey breakfast show my regular guest is Pauline Hedges, a director of Surrey Farmers’ Markets. She, more than anyone, knows the value and joy that can be derived from enabling a hyper-local supply chain to flourish, and she gets a weekly platform to talk about it.

But I do love supermarkets. I love the way the doors are almost always open. I love the two-fer deals. I even like the trollies. They’re built much better than they used to be, don’t you think? Once wilful reminders of humanity’s apparent inability to manufacture anything that does what it’s supposed to, now the modern shopping trolley is a highly-engineered, pragmatic and efficient machine, operating on the smooth-as-marble performance space which hosts our retail ballet.

Going comatose

Most people use television to put their brains into a semi-comatose, relaxed and suggestive state. I go to Sainsbury’s. We need food, I need to relax. I talk for a living, and in a supermarket, you don’t need to talk, especially with the self-service tills. It’s just you, your little metal chariot and the products. The dancing designs and the promise of so much that’s good and wholesome – or thick and indulgent – underneath.

It’s not just me. In his novel White Noise, Don DeLillo describes supermarkets (with their “dazzling hedgerows” of products) as centres of “magic and dread”.

When Pulp’s arch lyricist Jarvis Cocker is challenged in 1995’s hit single Common People to go somewhere interesting, he takes his first date to a supermarket. As an arty-farty graduate with a degree in post-structuralist literary theory, I remember thinking, “well, of course.”

Aesthetically, I will admit, they are a disaster. Who in their right mind has ever said, “oh, what a pretty supermarket”? It’s worse when they try squeezing local/metro/mini versions into old buildings. Internally, we have to deal with strip lighting, freezing temperatures, odd smells (my wife won’t go in one supermarket because of the overwhelming stink of roast chicken that greets her at the door) and drab colour schemes.

Then you have the pertinent arguments about food miles, the relationship these organisations have with their suppliers and their willingness to keep undercutting independents until our local butcher’s, baker’s and newsagent’s expire in little puffs of despair.

I could decide this is terrible, and that I should resolve to do my shopping in Walton-on-Thames High Street without going to the nearby Aldi, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s but I have to recognise I am what I am. A happy little supermarket consumer. And if that means I end up eating equine derivative from an unidentified East European abattoir, then I’m getting exactly what I deserve.

***

Nick Wallis presents the Breakfast Show on BBC Surrey (104FM and 104.6FM) every Saturday morning from 6am to 9am. You can also read his blog by visiting his website, which you’ll find at nickwallis.com

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 12:41

Bella Vou run us through CO2RE Intima, a non-surgical treatment helping with women’s intimate health

Read more
Tue, 16:16

At Sir William Perkins’s School (SWPS) the aim is to build confidence, integrity and excellence in a caring, innovative and happy community so that each student leaves with the best possible chance of achieving her full potential and ready to take on the world.

Read more
Tue, 11:43

If the colder weather is making you feel like escaping to somewhere snug and cosy, you might be surprised to find some perfect rural retreats right on your doorstep. Here’s our pick of the best to discover in Surrey…

Read more
Tue, 11:33

Get ready to laugh, boo and hiss, and cheer on your favourite childhood heroes in the array of pantomimes coming to Surrey theatres this Christmas

Read more
Tue, 11:01

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Mon, 16:01

Actress, singer and entertainer, Anita Harris has travelled the world in an illustrious career that spans over five decades. From her home in Chertsey, she talks to Tinx Newton about the people she has worked with, her tour and life in Surrey

Read more
Mon, 14:13

If there's ever a time of year when a brisk, bracing walk is needed, then winter and the lead-up to the festive season is surely it. Here we round up a few of our Surrey favourites

Read more
Mon, 13:01

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (14, 15 and 16 December): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Surrey is a county full of festive delights. Think cosy pubs, frosty views and long winter walks. We pick 22 wonderful reasons to spend Christmas in Surrey.

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Surrey this month

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

With beautiful countryside, stunning villages and plenty of bluebells during spring, Surrey is an amazing place for a stroll

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Pupils at The Hawthorns School in Bletchingley collected over 5,800 items of food for the Loveworks foodbanks in Reigate and Merstham

Read more
Friday, November 30, 2018

We’ve teamed up with Grand Illusions to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a £250 gift card with the stylish homeware brand

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Celebrating its 25 anniversary, Kinghams restaurant is found at the heart of one of Surrey’s most iconic villages. Matthew Williams visits to discover the secrets of its longevity

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search