I don’t know how I ever got through life before the *The Brexit Trolley, *so named because

  1. It has Union Jacks plastered all over it
  2. I bought it in a huge (sugar) rush in the run-up to Article 50
  3. Brexit (apparently) does mean Brexit

Brexit-Trolley was conveniently standing in a shop-doorway when I had no time whatsoever to browse for a shopping-cart less open to political (mis-)interpretation. It was Friday night and I needed to get some rugs to the launderette before last wash, so I polished off my Mars Bar and quickly bought it, without dwelling too much on the implications (i.e. are these for old ladies?)

But I haven’t looked back since (or indeed after Article 50).

Or at least I’ve tried not to…

Now that it’s mine to do with as I like, the trolley (not unlike Brexit) can be hard or soft, maybe medium rare, and, depending on circumstances, empty, hollow and flaccidly devoid of any useful content.

In the bad old pre-Brexit-Trolley days, lugging a big shop home from Lidl was a gruelling but necessary ordeal, and one which probably drew more of a parallel with half an hour’s intense US Marine Corps training than it ever was the happy and carefree conclusion to a joyful supermarket run.


Mission Food-shop

‘Mission Food-Shop’ invariably involved shouldering a severely strained rucksack full to bursting with tins and tubs and my arms being dragged down by hands desperately hanging on to polythene bags overflowing with veg, fruits, diary produce, packets, bottles and boxes. All of which not only made forward motion very difficult, but reduced my finger-ends to deadened blue chipolata-sausage-like extremities as the carrier-handles dug in just that bit too deeply. Factor in a bit of rain, and I wouldn’t even have any blue chipolatas spare to hold an umbrella. (They were far too numb, anyway.)

When I finally got home, only to find I could barely heave the bulky groceries over the door-step, I’d wonder how on earth I’d ever managed to not only drag this amount of dead weight right across the Bethnal Green end of Victoria Park in under half an hour, but actually live to tell the tale…..

Of course, I could have hopped on a bus, but I have long since relinquished the annual oyster-card in favour of (theoretically) more cost-effective (to my circumstances) pay-as-you-go. Ergo there is no way I am (ever) going to shell out £1.50 bus-fare to go a mere two or three stops, not even with half a tonne of groceries as some economic justification.

Even the transitory pleasure of cruising the aisles with total abandonment and the opportunity to roam freely in search of budget provisions was marred by the awareness that I would, inevitably, have to rein in my own expectations vis-à-vis even rudimentary requirements. Realistically, I wouldn’t even be able to get the spoils of a mild-to-moderate supermarket-sweep style shopping splurge out of the aisles and across that busy road outside Lidl, let alone haul it through the park and home, without crumbling, if not actually expiring, in the attempt.

So food-shops (unavoidably) involved making weighty moral decisions like that of choosing between a bottle of wine and a box of washing powder (as in: Which is really more vital in the short-term?) I would carefully choose between a tin of chickpeas and a punnet of cherries like it was the most important assessment I was ever going to have to make. Did I go for balsamic or basmati or plump for the parmesan in preference to those tempting-looking pomegranates? Do I bag that broccoli or quickly seize those last runner-beans before somebody else does? Should I grab those chicken breasts right now or snatch up that chorizo on the way to the check-out? It was all a bit disheartening, particularly when I had to make executive decisions such as whether to leave behind the Lenor or ditch that big bag of healthy red lentils instead. I’d have to (mentally and physically) weigh up basics against luxuries, and, yes, that did take most of the fun out of food-shopping.

And, inevitably, I would end up not being able to make all the meals I had planned, because I didn’t have a single spud to my name, or hadn’t picked up the requisite bag of carrots.  The missing link in my culinary life sometimes took the form of lasagne sheets, or I’d go and forget some vital herb (which wouldn’t have taken up much room anyway, but I had obviously lost all sense of perspective by the time I eventually reached the final frontier that is the check-out).

The Blessed Brexit-Trolley has changed all that. Thanks to its glorious capacity for expansion I can throw in just about anything I want – in theory even the small radiators they sometimes have on Lidl’s central bargain counter would fit (if I ever really truly set my heart on one). It might make progress along the mean dark pavements of E8 a bit slower, but never again will gravity succeed in dragging me down after a supermarket shop, (even with a radiator in tow).


No longer a Moral Decision

It’s so liberating. I can make impromptu little detours on the way home, explore new routes, and even dawdle along the canal-paths at my leisure. You’re never going to look lost and alone when you have a faithful shopping trolley at your heels.

Taking the Scenic Route Home


Or Maybe Not –


 E2 – Reasonably-priced Accommodation with Stunning Views –
and Easy Access to the City

Plus, being in control of two, albeit minor, wheels, gives you that bit more status vis-à-vis fellow pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists, as they readily grant you more leeway than they would ever be seen to waste on an obviously sad and second class citizen trudging their way through life with dead-weight carrier-bag-handles compressing their finger-ends.

Of course, a receptacle of the Brexit-Trolley’s accommodating dimensions does take longer to empty, to the point where it’s tempting to unpack half of it before dinner, and leave the rest for afterwards. The drawback here is that unless you throw in all your stuff in a strategic enough manner, you will not only have to dig right down to the bottom to rescue any (and hopefully ALL) perishables that require immediate refrigeration, but quite possibly not find the very thing you wanted for dinner anywhere near the top of the pile either. Still, it’s a price well-worth paying for being able to get a shop this size securely back to base.


‘Strong and Stable’ Shopping Trolley

But so dark is it down in those extreme trolley-depths, that it’s easy to miss that last item or crucial ingredient. I once spent an entire week lamenting the fact that although I could have sworn I had bought some vanilla essence, I obviously hadn’t, until I found it in Brexit’s bottom corner-folds the next time I was preparing myself to go out for a major shop. That, plus a pale pink lipstick I’d bought over a month ago and forgotten all about…

But Brexit-Trolley’s advantages so very much outweigh any minor (self-inflicted) inconveniences, that I am beginning to get a bit (too) attached to it.

I take it out for walks. It even comes with me to café’s – ‘just in case’. I’d hate to casually think of something bulky yet wholly necessary, while I’m sipping my (first) frothy cappu and contemplating my (second) almond croissant of the day, only to not be able to buy it on a loose whim on the way home.

I recently took Brexit-Trolley for its statutory Sunday walk, quickly pitching up with it at my nearest local café, when my mate Janice called to ask if I fancied popping round to hers for a catch-up.

“Yes” I said “Do you need anything?”

(grandly) adding: “I’ve got my shopping trolley with me.”

“Half a pint of milk would be good.” Janice replied

I popped into a newsagents to pick up the milk. As I threw it into the trolley, those present got to witness first-hand an enigmatic silence as the carton fell through the cavernous darkness, then a dull thud as it hit the bottom. Good job I brought that trolley with me, otherwise I would have had to carry that milk.

When I arrived Chez Janice, she was happily ensconced at a neighbour’s BBQ. The hosts cordially invited me to join in. I struggled to manoeuvre the Brexit-Trolley down their terrace steps and squeeze it in between young and trendy BBQ guests arranged in their own cosy compact seated circle around the grill.

“Janice needed some milk.” I volunteered, by way of mitigating any shopping trolley-induced disruption and the necessary breaking of their charmed BBQ Magic Circle.

Soon I was merrily chatting away (and drinking), both me and the trolley now blending seamlessly with this summer party crowd, when a young chap (NB they were all young) suddenly announced: “Your trolley is ringing.”

I jumped up and attempted to swiftly retrieve my smartphone from wherever within those murky recesses it was ringing out. But I couldn’t quite lay my hands on it. I could have sworn I’d put it in the trolley’s outside pocket, but all I could feel down there was a handful of crumpled till-receipts, an empty oyster-card case, and some *eye-brow tweezers. (Great, I really thought I’d lost *those…).

Mildly panicking that, now I’d (finally) found my tweezers, I had only gone and lost my smartphone (although I couldn’t have done, could I, or the trolley wouldn’t have been ringing), I stuck my head and shoulders into Brexit-Trolley and fished around right at the bottom, lifting its loose inlay and hastily removing a few minor non-smartphone objects which had evidently precipitated there, ceremoniously laying them out on the patio before going back in again to rummage further. By now the phone had (unsurprisingly) stopped ringing.

Out came the slim paperback I’d been reading at the café, half a packet of bone-dry wet-wipes, a stray and undersized hair-brush, a drifting and vagrant Lidl brochure, a well-worn nail-file, a set of door-keys (mine) and half a pint of milk (Janice’s). Oh, and a tin sardines, which must have been a relic from some previous supermarket run or other. I hoped, in passing, that it still had a good enough date on it – I haven’t had the trolley that long so it couldn’t have gone over – although, on the other hand, it does seem like an age since Article 50 was triggered.


Dredged from the Depths – and not the Turner Prize Winner

The whole BBQ circle eyed me and my wretched little pile in both wonderment and pity as I continued to frantically forage around for the phantom phone.

In a final fit of desperation I decided to check the outside pocket again – adding its prize content of crinkly receipts, tarnished tweezers and weathered oyster-card holder to the Grand Patio Display (which, on balance, probably wasn’t going to be nominated for the Turner Prize). I delved my hand right down to the pocket-bottom – which is deeper than you might realise – and there, finally, was my elusive, and, by this time, embarrassing smartphone.

Sweet relief mixed itself with mortification so acute that I was now well-past caring who had called (although I couldn’t resist a quick check of the use-by date on the surprise sardine tin).

I dared not meet the gaze of any other guests, who, by now, must have all been at least casually interested, (if not entirely desperate), to know precisely why this person (of indeterminate age) had dragged a massive shopping trolley to a BBQ all for the sake half a pint of milk, a tiny tin of sardines, some tweezers and sundry bits of trolley-fluff.

“Janice” I said, without looking up

“Your milk is getting a bit warm. Do you think it’s time we left?”

Maybe I should start leaving the fabled Brexit-Trolley at home at least some of the time…..


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