AN EXCURSION, THE ALDI OUTING, PART II; 2 EURO A TROLLEY

 

If you missed Part I, click here first…

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Part II

          We weren’t going till the afternoon, mid-afternoon, which thankfully gave us plenty of time to get a bit of airing into the laundry. They’d been on the clotheshorse for two days now due to the rain and this morning didn’t surprise. Hardly a flood, by global standards, but just look at those shores The Mother said! Thankfully, we had the hot-press and managed to get everything draped around the tank with its boiler jacket looking like it was ready to head out to build a snowman, so at least the clothes managed to get a little hot air if not fresh air.
          We headed out for the bus at 12.30. The cousin was picking us up at 14.40, so that gave us a good hour and 50 minutes to do the shopping, provided the bus didn’t hit any floods. Remember those shores! Unfortunately, it gave us less than 3 good hours of leaving the windows open to get the fresh air into the house before we had to leave it! But we had to go and the air would have to wait.

          It’s 2 euro for a trolley she whispers to me as we are on the walk-up to The Main Event. 2 euro! The Mother said it with the implication that we were no longer in Dunnes Stores or Super Value. 2 euro! How bloody posh, though I imagined The Mother polishing the 2 euro last night with an old pair of knickers, after I went up to bed, till it sparkled or at least half its value was rubbed away.
          In through the double doors we went with the 2 euro trolley and less than 2 hours to navigate the 6 aisles and that all important Hardware Section and she kept saying it- The Hardware Section like it was an exclusive wing of a hotel or private insurance hospital like The Beacon or something.
          She stopped, took it in, looking to see if The Mary had given the right layout and then, looking satisfied though challenged, took of the coat and off we went on the best re-designated route.

          I started on the vegetables, for the up-coming detox, while she ran off to the cake section that The Mary didn’t even tell her about. There was a skip to her almost octogenarian step that a 16-year-old gymnast couldn’t keep up with. I knew we should have eaten before we left.
          She started off buying with a method I call ‘Pull and Fling’- pull everything off the shelves that looks nicely packaged or reminiscent of Dunnes and fling them into the trolley I was trying to steer. It’s not all 2 euro I roared at one point- maybe do a little price check before we need a second trolley for just the two of us and there was me, on the door stop of that food-fasting detox, codename: Starvation.
          However, then came the meat section and all hell broke loose. The Mary had told her about this split-chicken thing you just stuffed in the over, packaging and all, and she was off head-bent on finding one or at least finding a chicken and splitting it herself, right there in the store. Chicken found, she went darker; sausages, pork chops, rashers, duck breast, minced meat and a few filets mignon just to make sure we covered every animal in the store along with a family pack of salmon the like of which the River Shannon has never seen. But thankfully everything had A Good Date on them, I always go for the good date, she says. I know, I mutter under clenched teeth.
          We hit the toilet paper aisle and went for bumper pack; we could have diarrhoea for months and not have to worry. Joy! We didn’t buy the cheap ones, of course, The Mary had advised The Mother to go always for the middle price, not the cheap, not the expensive but The Middle Price so you’ll be safe and your bum will be grateful. They didn’t have her own brand of coffee or washing liquid and that was a bit of a set-back, I thought I was going to have to run and fling everything back onto the shelves and we’d leave empty hearted but thankfully the canned goods came next and there were literally fireworks shooting from her when she realized her precious man-child could now stock up on every pulse possible and all for barely 30 cents a can as she reminded me- I know how much you like your pulses. I began to pray The Hardware Section had a deal in extra cupboard spaces.
          When we realised we didn’t need 2 hours for the 6 aisles we did The Hardware Section twice and picked up every object, inspected it, turned it upside down and over, put it back, took it up and then down again and moved on to the next. I’d love to get some eggs-cups for the microwave, for doing the poached eggs she tells me. Do you think they’ll have them? I looked at her all wide-eyed and moved on as she contemplated a chainsaw that was only 45 euro!

        We reached the wine section and low and behold, don’t tell The Mary, but I was allowed to pick myself, me, the one from the wine bar and France and not The Mary from Thurles, County Tipperary. Although I could already hear the reports that would come back after the tasting; Oh that’s different, yes, different, isn’t it, hmmm, interesting, which really meant- well thanks anyway, but we’ll go back to what we’re used to.

          As we neared the till I had to put my back into pushing the trolley which now felt like a lorry I was forcing uphill with the brakes on. I began to stack our items and noticed how everyone around us took different tills when they saw what I was putting up and what I had still left to unload. Mum was at the other end with bags ready, her bank card in hand and a trickle of perspiration on her forehead. I won’t say what we paid, but that advert on television, in between the ad breaks for Fair City, the one with the shiny family all smarmy about their savings, well the hundreds they were saving felt more like the amount of money we had to hand over. Maybe in Cavan you get a bit more for your money, she says as we struggle out the door with three quarters of the shop.

          I got nothing The Mother says to me as we wait for the cousin, talking about The Hardware Section and I gave her the sad-eye look and blushed slightly when I remembered the mini dumbbells and arm weights I bought myself in The Hardware Section that I already knew I’d never use. Now who’s the edjit!
          And then, just as the cousin pulls up in the car, I’m asked- did we get anything to eat tonight?
          Oh dear! Aldi- we will be back, but hopefully not for another month. And we’d like a microwaveable poached egg cup for next time that maybe we can pay for with the dumbbells.

 

All words by Damien B. Donnelly, with grateful inspiration from the two other members of the Holy Trinity- The Mother and The Mary.

AN EXCURSION, THE ALDI OUTING, A SHORT STORY

 

          We’re going to Aldi tomorrow, me and The Mother.

          She started making a list last Sunday! She’s never been before and the excitement is only bouncing through the freshly aired house (we open all the windows at 11am and a good time to close them is 3pm before the cold air gets in). She’s preparing like it’s a first date! She’s looked in the wardrobe twice for what to wear! Her sister wears those jeans with the bit of stretch in them, you know; the ones with the extra bit of comfort. Her other sister only goes to Marks!

           ‘An excursion,’ she’s calling it!
          ‘They have a lovely price on their tins of beans, not the baked kind, the other ones, those foreign ones. I know how you like your pulses,’ she says to me. I giggle- anything with a pulse for me is always of possible potential!
          ‘I hope they have a good date on them,’ she remarks. ‘Make sure there’s a good date on them’ is her staple supermarket comment.
          She’s already arranged a pickup for afterwards and notified everyone in the family either by phone call or messenger the exact details of the where and when, in case we never come back. The plan is to go mid-afternoon, everything is planned mid-afternoon so it gives a good two to three hours beforehand to get ready and the whole evening then to recover and call everyone up to tell them about the day, whether there’s been a planned excursion or not, mainly not, but the phone calls still go out and come in; ‘Did you do the washing? I did! You did? I did! Do you see the rain? I did! You did? I did! She did!
          ‘Will I be able to bring me own shopping bags,’ she asks me?
          ‘Will they take me card,’ she wants to know, ‘you know, me credit card? I’ve never been to a place like this before,’ she tells me and she’s off, calling up the sisters and cousins just to double check!
          ‘Do you have your passport?” I ask her and she looks at me and thinks but eventually catches up!

          Last night she was on the phone to her best friend Mary from County Tipperary. For 35 minutes The Mary took her through the proposed visit; ran her along the layout, each aisle, the best route, the bargains, the spots to rest, read her out the offers of the week, even though they were the bargains for next week! Less plotting and planning goes into a bank robbery. You’d think we were going to an alien planet. I could barely keep it together.
          Then came the run down on the wine. Now, I’m not bigging myself up here or anything but it felt a little off-centre to hear someone in Thurles, County Tipperary call The Mother in Lusk, North Country Dublin, to suggest what wine The Son, me, would like. I say it felt a little off-centre because, of course, between the three of us; The Mother, The Mary and myself, there is only one of us who ran a Bar, in Paris, in France, you know; that country where they make some of The Wine. And I can give you two hints; it wasn’t The Mother or The Mary!

          Oh god! Welcome home and roll on The Excursion. Aldi; we’re on the way and you have been warned!

 

All words by Damien B Donnelly but all thoughts and ideas from the holy Trinity, The Mother, The Mary and Myself.

GOLD TAINTED GRASSES

 

Corners come crawling from the fine folds
of memory when the lavender was long
with laughter beyond the bridge
where the lazy water twisted her sky’s blues
through rough rock and tufts of gold tainted
grasses that I captured on canvas
and you kept in glass cases crowded
with curated curiosities and empty wine bottles.
We were in your Queen’s country; Balmoral
and all her bounty without a breath
of any Brexit. They had a tin can
of baked beans in her local store
and a couple of packets of butter biscuits
in a coating of plastic tartan and I wondered
who had the midnight nibbles
after the summer’s sun had settled
over the north that so wanted to snap
from the south. We’d sat in a church
with the Ma’am herself and all the family,
a tiny little thing (both monument
and monarch) cut into ragged rock
on the turn of a heather hewn hill, clinging
to its own existence like the family
and the faith and the kingdom. Later,
we gathered with giggles in a glen
as little Miss Sydney crippled us
with comedy and the Ling heathers
bloomed in the buoyancy of her laughter,
a daughter of the Commonwealth
now no longer common. All things come
and go, like the scent of cut lavender,
culled and so peacefully plain, its colour
now lighter, now longer able to be amethyst.
Memory too folds and fades like the colour
of each encounter, like the bloom and
the border, the lavender and the laughter,
the freedom and the procession, the family
and the faith, the country and the conqueror,
like all entrances and all their unexpected exits.

   

All words and water colour by Damien B. Donnelly

21st poem for National Poetry Writing Month

SEND IN THE CLOWNS

 

Twisted in torment
throughout time,
we are tenements
tears could fill
in their thousands.

If only we were clowns
and comedy was our calling.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Twitter poetry prompt “tears could Fill” from #WrittenRiver