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October 2011
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Muzak while you shop
By Justin Lewis

My wife has become a creature of habit. Due to shopping for our elderly mothers, Wednesday is shopping day.

My mother was brought up in India, in the days of the Raj. She used to be a cordon bleu chef and expects the finer things in life when she goes shopping. Sadly, when it comes to shopping day, only Waitrose will do.

May I say “I strongly disagree!” The Co-op store in Great Missenden stocks a wonderful array of upmarket produce at very competitive prices. I much prefer to nip down the hill to purchase an urgently required item. Upon arrival I don’t have to pay a pound to park and I am often greeted with a similar smile to the one the ‘partners’ are trained to deliver.

Recently, we returned from a house hunting/camping holiday in Wales. It was late in the evening when we discovered the electric cool box had neither been stowed in the trailer properly, nor had it been plugged into the 12 volt supply I had installed, at some expense. The result was, the meals reserved for the next three evenings were mingled with the camp beds and fishing tackle. Supper that night was rosti and beans!

As I mentioned, Wednesday is shopping day so panic overcame my wife at the thought of doing it on a Monday. My mother couldn’t cope either; imagine the worry of having to produce a shopping list with two days food in the fridge!

I persuaded my wife to visit the recently refurbished Co-op in Great Missenden (having to kick my youngest out at a friend’s house 500 yards away, for a play, also helped).

I must confess this was my first visit to the store since its revamp, so I was expecting great things. One thing I hate with a vengeance is piped music when I am trying to shop, especially the computer generated rubbish!

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to listen to popular beat music. The family, neighbours and passers-by often witness me listening to the likes of Robbie Williams, Dragonette, Elbow, The Gorillaz and the late Amy Winehouse (also the wonderful sounds of the 80s which I grew up with).

Upon entering the store we were greeted by the sound of what can only be described as a badger-baiting documentary! We had our border terrier put down last year, she had a hatred for foxes. The wails from the sound system and the smell of the shelf stacker, stacking the fruit, brought memories of her flooding back. The noise was so bad, we grabbed a dry, partially cooked chicken and headed for the checkout. An elderly friend of ours was in the queue in front of us. He too was doing a runner with half he intended to buy; he said he had been compelled to wipe a tear from his eye as the racket reminded him of the noise he made his fag emit when he was a prefect at Eton.

If David Cameron and Phillip Hammond get their way, Great Missenden will be blighted forever by HS2. It was with great forethought and kind regard for the people of Great Missenden when The Co-operative installed a sound system to drown out the noise. Contrary to popular belief, we country folk are not comforted to hear sounds made by the minority of rural dwellers, badger-baiting and similar acts of animal cruelty are committed, mostly, by townsfolk, creeping about in the dead of night because of their illegality.

If music must be played in shops why not make it more suitable for the clientele who spend most in the store? Not fox hunting sounds but relaxing or well-known and established music (the chattering chimp trying to promote the current bargains is inaudible and awfully irritating too).

This week, Tuesday is shopping day and Mummy is coming with us!
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