Saturday, 3 August 2013

Aldi Antics


Every couple of weeks, my elderly friend Pauline and I hit the Aldi supermarket in Luton. Pauline lives in a sheltered council housing complex close to my house. I first met her when I started fighting to save our ex-allotments from being sold off by the council and over the years I have been campaigning, I've got to know her and the other residents quite well. Pauline is in her late 70's I think; some of the others are considerably older. They are a very feisty lot and there is always some feud or other taking place. Bins, parking and wind chimes feature a lot.

Pauline is an endless source of entertainment, if you don't weaken. Despite being just under five foot in height, she used to deliver motor caravans all over the UK and abroad; now she drives her little Honda Jazz in exactly the same way: fast and taking no prisoners so we arrive at Aldi with my knuckles white and my right leg stiff from imaginary braking. That's not even taking into account the swearing at other drivers, especially other drivers who don't go fast enough for her liking. 'Shouldn't be driving at her age, stupid old sod,' she grumbles, as we overtake some innocent pensioner pootling along well within the speed limit. She swears at ambulances too, mainly because she's been in enough of them in her life.

Then there's the pigeon conspiracy. I have explained many times that pigeons don't actually hang about in trees waiting for Pauline to drive by just so they can fly across her bonnet and make her jump. She disagrees. I would offer to drive, but I don't because she loves driving and it would spoil her fun so I just sit and grip the sides of the passenger seat and age silently. In between swearing at things, Pauline tells me amazing stories about growing up in the 40's and 50's - like when you went to the pictures, you could barely see the screen for all the cigarette smoke, and how she got out of bed and walked out of the hospital a couple of hours after giving birth to her fourth child because she decided she was fed up and wanted to go home.

When we get to Aldi, Pauline and I don't just shop. Pauline likes to browse, to peruse, to comment upon and critique the items on display. It takes ages and frequently we draw a crowd. My role is to get things off the top shelf for her, but if I am not fast enough, Pauline will reach up with her stick and knock the item off herself. This usually means we end up being followed round the store by some hapless member of staff who has been detailed to keep an eye on her. Funnily enough we never get told off because Pauline can do 'sweet little old lady' to industrial strength. It's an act, and we both know it is, but it never fails to work.

Pauline adores animals. She has had cats all her life - she gets them from the Cat Rescue and she also feeds the local wildlife along with any passing strays that turn up, much to the chagrin of her immediate neighbours, who have to put up with peanut shells on the communal lawn and foxes fighting in the small hours. Every afternoon, she makes sandwiches to put out, and cooks chicken pieces. Okay, it is wildly eccentric, but it was through Pauline that I learned we had badgers living in the area, and I have sat up through the night with her and watched a family of foxes with two tiny cubs enjoying her largesse.

Along with all the residents, Pauline has a quirky out-of-the box way of thinking, which is why I like her so much and why I look forward our visits to Aldi. Once I recall turning up at her flat with a very swollen foot, having fallen downstairs and twisted it. Pauline took one look, then headed straight to the ''pill cupboard'' where she keeps the enormous stash of drugs that supposedly keep her going. Rummaging around, she emerged finally with a small white box which she handed it to me.
         'Here,' she said, 'these'll sort you out.' 
        'Thanks Pauline,' I replied, glancing at the label. 'Um ... it says Icknield Veterinary Group.'
         'So?' came the laconic response. 'It cured the cat's sore leg.'

 I hope I end up just like her.





45 comments:

  1. I LOVE Pauline and am doing my best to be like her in my dotage. Except, I don't think the Pauline's of this world have a dotage. What a great blog post, what a great lady!

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    1. I'm getting more like her the more I hang out with her!! Worrying..

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  2. Haha. I'm sure you'll get your wish and end up just like her. I can easily picture you knocking magazines off the top shelf with your stick.

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    1. Hahaha...and biscuits and tea-cakes..

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  3. She's the archetypal 'woman who wears purple' - and don't we all hope that age sees us simply eccentric and not frail and dribbling into our cocoa.

    And full marks to Aldi for looking out for her - maybe most towns have their share of unusual people. Some years ago we had an elderly woman with incontinence problems who was banned from Waitrose when she wet herself. There was an outcry - we can manage a little wee, said the town. And we can!

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    1. Absolutely....and we ARE filling our trolley - usually with things we didn't know we wanted until we saw them.....

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  4. I expect the cat's bad leg stuff had the same ingredients as our bad leg stuff. Shoulda looked!!

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    1. I was VERY tempted...but then I already have most of Pauline's stash of co-codomol for when I have enough of everything, so didn't want to rob her of any more drugs!!! And the cat's leg was an ulcer, not the result of falling downstairs.

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  5. Oh please bring her over when you come and visit! I love her already! People with that kind of spunk are soul food for me, probably because I don't have it! I'd love to go to the Aldi with you too, Carol! I reckon you're probably a good match for Pauline. Keep watching and learning :)

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    1. She is such fun..and so physically disabled. I admire her immensely.

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  6. Ahh, an impulse buyer! Another thing to like about Pauline! Wonderful blog this morning Carol You never fail to entertain, and you earn a chuckle or three. Your friendships are the stuff of legend!

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  7. I'm crying with laughter Carol.I have went from having the elderly in my life to having toddlers but I do miss the laughs I used to have with my mum inlaw and my own mum. How lovely for her to have you go with her and listen to her stories,I hope I have a Carol in my life when I'm old and grey.

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    1. I did this blog for Lynn Gerrard, who is always pestering me to write about Pauline... I read it out to Pauline over the phone , of course...she immediately reminded me of even more stuff we get up to.... Blog 2, i think...

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  8. another brilliant post Carol, just love reading about your antics.
    I have a confession to make... I am becoming a 'Pauline' and I love it. Before, when I misbehaved in a supermarket, I was instantly berated and made to feel like a naughty child.
    But now I am nearly seventy, something wonderful is happening. My family simply smile, a little half heartedly I must admit, but I am getting away with murder!

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  9. Thanks Anita. I was told by a friends that something happens when you get over 60: you just couldn't give a fig. I didn't believe them. Age and circumstances are now proving them right.

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  10. What an amazing lady. I love her. But what I need to know is, did the cat pills work?

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  11. Makes you look forward to being old. I shall have a stick that can be set to stun or kill, just for the hell of it.

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  12. Why do I get the feeling that Pauline will outlive all of us? I have this vision of a very stooped, very wrinkled 150 year old woman perched atop a pile of pillows as she zooms down the road absorbing all the years she scares off of everyone else!

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    1. hahaha... currently she sits on 2 cushions to drive...so you are not far wrong...

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  13. great post. You would both definitely liven up my Aldi. Baby Antonia snoozes round most of it. Were the Aldi staff hovering in a helpful way, or as in a 'check she doesn't wreck the joint' kind of way?! I'd love to see Pauline when you get to the checkout and they don't have enough tills open!

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    1. Haha. Pauline always chats to the person behind her at the checkout and comments on their shopping. Once,someone piled all their stuff back into their trolley and wheeled it off. 'Why did they do that?' I asked..I was unloading my trolley onto the checkout and didn't notice. 'Dunno,' Pauline said, looking horribly innocent, 'but she had very stupid shopping.'

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  14. I LOVE Pauline! I wish I lived nearby, I'd love to see her knock the shopping off the top shelf. (That's a trick I'll be remembering for my later years!) She's certainly a character and I bet the pair of you cause a right stir : )

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  15. I imagine the pills helped with coughing up fur balls too. You've not coughed up *any* since taking them...

    Don't necessarily agree with feeding urban foxes. Not unless they ask politely. But then they'd be urbane foxes.

    No, it's not good to get them too used to humans. They are wild creatures, after all.

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    1. She feeds whatever turns up. Foxes, badgers, cats. To an extent I agree, but Pauline gets such pleasure out of the animals that I'd be loth to deprive her of it. And it's not as if she asks them in....

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  16. What a great character and wonderful lady Pauline is. Wish my visits to Aldi were as exciting! The thing I lkie about Aldi is the baskets of goodies they have filled with all sorts of useful things and it changes every week.

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  17. Great post for a wonderful character, Carol

    carol
    DizzyC

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    1. Thanks Nikki and Carol...I read the blog out to Pauline...she swears her laptop is watching her...and she reminded me of all sorts of other things we get up to. May have to do a second post sometime..

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  18. Oh Carol you have made me howl with laughter this afternoon. What fun there is to be had when we reach retirement age and beyond!

    My friends elderly father (90's) refuses to wear a belt, or braces, and consequently is often seen hobbling around the village on his walking stick, with his trousers around his ankles! Does he care? Not one iota!

    Growing old disgracefully is something a lot of folk seem to be adopting as their motto these days. And why not...

    Thank you for sharing, your friend sounds a scream!

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    1. Thanks Maria - I have to say Pauline is enjoying the ''fame''.

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  19. Oh I love her! She could have been in A Little Bit of Madness. Actually, I think she probably is! Lovely post, Carol! :) xx

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  20. I LOVE Pauline! I WANT her to be my friend and neighbour and even sleep in my spare room. A great blog! Made me chuckle - hope you use her as a muse for a book ;)

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  21. As they say, "you're only young once, but you can be immature forever"!

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  22. I fully intend to grow older as disgracefully as possible - Pauline will now be my rôle model. Thanks for a wonderful giggle.

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  23. I've always said that I want to grow old disgracefully and become a senile delinquent. Way to go, Pauline! I hope that in the fullness of time Aldi will erect a statue of you outside the store.

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  24. What a lady, to be honest I wouldn't want to mess with either of you. Hope you are off the cat pills and roll on your next Aldi expedition with the wonderful Pauline.

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  25. Ha ha ha... Love it! That would certainly make a trip to the supermarket worthwhile! I have to disagree with you about the pigeons. They certainly do conspire to hang around and crap on your car. She sounds like a real character and well worth knowing. Well, a drug is a drug, I suppose...

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  26. If I make it to proper old age, I want to be like Pauline, too!

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    1. what makes her special is her attitude..what I DON'T share is the pain and discomfort she lives with..

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  27. So glad you put this up on #wwwblogs today. My father still talks about the pigeon that ruined his date in college - he had borrowed a convertible, and the results were....embarrassing. I hope I can have the level of spunk Pauline has when I'm her age. And a friend who is willing to accompany me to Aldi.

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  28. What a character, love feisty ladies! So sorry to hear she has passed Carol, by the sound of it your friend Pauline will be sorely missed.

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  29. She probably didn't pass... its more likely she demanded to be let in! How smashing that you recorded her essence in history.

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