Trouble in store

First published in Dad At Large The Northern Echo: Blog: Editor Peter Barron by

WE have a shopping list system in our house. It is managed with an iron fist by my wife and designed to ensure we never run out of anything.

It is not rocket science. It simply involves a notebook left on the kitchen worktop and all of us are required to make a note of any commodity which we’ve noticed is nearly out of stock.

And woe betide any of us if we fail to keep the shopping list up-to-date.

If we happen to run out of baked beans, for example, there is an inevitable inquest.

I’ve lost count of the times the following conversation has taken place over the years: Hungry child (or dad): “Urgh! There are no baked beans left.”

Mum (raised voice): “That’s because no one could be bothered to write it down on the list.”

It’s not just baked beans, of course.

Any of the following could equally apply: pizzas, cereal, bread, eggs, fruit juice, fish fingers, chicken dippers, pasta sauces, garlic bread, chips, wine and toilet rolls.

My wife, as she is inclined to let us know, is not in possession of a crystal ball and if we can’t be bothered to put pen to paper, why should she be held responsible? She has enough to think about.

Personally, I have grown quite scared of being the cause of her system breaking down. So nervous am I, that I write down things even when there’s quite a lot of them left, just to be on the safe side.

The latest shopping list inquest erupted the other day when we ran out of frozen chips. I was genuinely perplexed because I distinctly remembered writing down “chips” on the notebook.

Naturally, I made sure of my ground before I challenged her authority.

I checked the notebook that had just returned from the supermarket and there it was, near the top of the first column, the word “chips”.

When she got to the line about no one bothering to write it down, I plucked up courage and begged to differ.

“Look,” I said, pointing to the notebook, “it says ‘chips’ there.”

There was a dangerous pause as she inspected the page, then she let out a sigh: “Well, it’s no good putting it there, is it?” she said. “That’s not the way I shop.”

Not the way she shopped? I politely requested clarification. She went on to say that she expected items to be listed in the order in which they were displayed in the supermarket.

Obviously, the fruit and veg needed to go at the top of the first column because that’s what came first in the store. Bread came next, then wine, toiletries, eggs, cereals, pasta sauces and tinned stuff. (I’m going from memory here, so forgive me if I’ve still got the order wrong.) “Frozen stuff comes right at the end,” she explained. “It’s no good putting chips at the top of the first column, they should be at the bottom of the second column.”

Could she not have made a mental note that “chips” had come prematurely on the list? Apparently not – too confusing – so we had to go without chips.

I noticed earlier that we’re running short of garlic bread. This is a toughy because it’s bread (relatively high up on the first column), but frozen (presumably low down on the second column).



DEVOTED dad Mark Coles was walking through Glasgow with daughter Lilly, nine, when they passed a poster of the Titanic. Mark asked Lilly if she knew what had happened to the Titanic.

“Yes I do, Daddy, it was a big ship that sank on its maiden voyage.”

Mark added: “Do you know why it sank?”

“Of course I do,” replied Lilly. “It was going too fast and hit an ice cube.”


MY mum, 80, was reminiscing about the jobs she’s had during her life.

“I never liked factory work, but I loved all my outside jobs – like working on the London Underground.”

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