This is the second part of a post about Sunday, written on Tuesday.
I was finally able to load the clean laundry into the car a couple of minutes before 10.00 and decided to go directly to the supermarket, rather than go home first.
If I go home between errands I tend to brew up, sit down and turn to WordPress. It can take quite an effort to get up and go out again.
Since our new Sunday opening laws Sunday has become a strange day. (Note that “our” refers to England and Wales – Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations, and “new” means 1994 – I take time to get used to change). It’s always been a strange day, to be honest. Even before the 1994 Act it was legal for shops to sell some things on Sundays, but not others. Even if a shop was open you couldn’t guarantee being able to buy everything on the shelves.
This law was partly to safeguard shop workers from exploitation. Farm workers didn’t count. We were allowed to work Sundays, and when the shops are closed on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day, we are still allowed to work. The law is quite keen on farm animals being fed and inspected every day.
And I was, quite honestly, happy to reduce Christmas Day to work, food and presents. It’s what people really want – I’m not sure how many people really enjoy the Queen’s Speech, Monopoly and arguments.
I remember being in a Motorway Service Station one Sunday before the changes came in. A man was reading the paper and talking to his wife.
“They won’t get me working Sundays.” he said. “It’s not right. I won’t do it.”
He seemed totally oblivious to the fact that people were working to allow him to travel, eat and read papers on a Sunday.
Anyway, let us leave 1994 and return to the present.
I missed the customary chariot race opening but, arriving at 10.07, was still amazed by the number of people who were already there, and by the speed at which they were moving. What is it about Sunday opening that turns the average shopper into a crazed looter?
There’s plenty of food in the shops, so why do we need all the wheel-to-wheel Ben Hur impersonations?
Later, I noted a new tactic from a particular couple – one of them stood looking at a shelf, whilst ensuring that their trolley stuck out into the aisle. The other stood looking at the opposite shelf, making sure that nobody could get past. It’s a new one for my anthropological survey of irritating shoppers.
On leaving, I passed a woman in a four-wheel-drive discussing shopping with her teenage son. He was clearly failing to live up to her expectations. In several different ways. It took me right back to the time when I used to do similar things with my kids. It never made them change and it often made me feel guilty afterwards. Kids are like that.
If I could, I would have told her she was wasting her time, but I don’t think she’d have listened. Anyway, I’m not exactly an expert. I did, however, manage to coerce Number Two Son into making brunch when I got home. I may be bad at parenting, but I’m good at psychology. Once I got his mouth watering he was putty in my hands…