It all started a couple of weeks ago when my niece gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. “I think we should send them a present,” said my wife. “Good idea,” I replied, going into autodrive, since everything my wife says is, by definition, “a good idea”. “I’m sure you’ll find something on Amazon,” I added, little suspecting that my wife had no intention of using my sole shopping supplier.
Seven shopping days, one hundred hours and two thousand websites later, my wife finally announced that she had found a lovely toddler’s outfit on next.co.uk, and that I could take over from here. It was at this point that we discovered you have to be a UK resident in order to buy stuff on next.co.uk. Had we considered moving to a proper country? their website wondered. They suggested that we try nextdirect.com, so I clicked on the link, located the very same outfit in less than a minute, and proceeded to register, carefully sidestepping the invitation to be inundated with irresistible “Buy twenty anoraks, get one free!” offers for the rest of my life. Now we were in business! Or so I thought. Back came the reply that nextdirect.com could only deliver to Spain, and perhaps we’d like to consider having another bash on their UK website?
My wife had long since retired to bed, having given up all hope of getting the toddler suit to her grand-nephew before his own retirement. Meanwhile, I dropped my sister a line to let her know that, despite our best intentions, her newly born grandson would not be getting his toddler’s suit until Next got their act together. It was at this stage that Deb, my brilliant sister, offered to order the goods herself. And we further agreed that I would give her an Amazon voucher to cover her costs.
Thank goodness for Amazon and sisters, eh? Merry Christmas!
It had all started over the road in Sorrisons, where Colin used to do his weekly non-shop: ‘Got any milk left?’ ‘Sorry, son.’ ‘How about eggs?’ ‘Sorry, son.’ … There was something therapeutic about aimlessly pushing an empty trolley up and down the aisles in a semi-hypnotic trance, accompanied by I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For on the panpipes, Irish though this might sound. A lot of Sorrisons’ first-time customers ended up in Looniversal Learning, having been misled by the promising “This way!” sign that Slapper had put up outside the front entrance. Their latest manager had complained bitterly to Slapper that she was confusing their customers, but his complaints fell on deaf ears. He didn’t last long at Sorrisons, and ended up enrolling for a Conspiring to Con the Consumers course. At least Slapper had the decency to give him a five-pound discount by way of compensation for ruining his career.
On this particular occasion, Colin was happily browsing the rubbers when he chanced upon an eye-catching blue biro. It was just like any other biro, only it was exactly half the size and perfect, therefore, for slipping into his trouser pocket alongside his stick and rubber. Two hours later, having finally managed to convince the Sorrisons store detective that he was not actually intending to steal the bloody biro and that, had he wanted to take up shoplifting for a hobby, he would have chosen something rather more exotic than a sodding ballpoint, Colin eventually made it to the checkout, together with his salt ’n’ vinegar crisps, carton of orange juice, and assorted stationery; though not before pointing out to the lady on the delicatessen counter that she should have put an apostrophe in “todays specials” and, for a bonus point, did she have any idea where?
As the cashier rang his items up on the till, Colin noticed that the standard biro cost 30p whereas the pocket biro cost 45p. In other words, you were paying 50% more for 50% less, just for the novelty value of being able to put a pen in your pocket without enduring “the pen is in your pocket” wisecracks from colleagues. And then it struck him that if small was beautiful, it followed therefore that minute was divine, and that if otherwise bright people were happy to buy half-size pens for one and a half times the normal price, what was to stop him selling quarter-size pens at twice the price, half-quarter pens at two and a half times the price, or quarter-quarter pens at three times the price? Perhaps he could even sell just plain old pen caps at five pounds a throw and fob them off as “nanoscopic biros”?
dayrealing, Chapter 29, “Carry On”