Lesser-Spotted Peregrinations

I am a man of many parts, most of them broken or missing. Much has been happening in my little life, most of it either thoroughly domestic or wholly incomprehensible or all three.

Two weeks ago and four moorings back Messrs ASDA went quite deliberately and with malice aforethough apex over fundament in re my grocery delivery. In most places a very substantial steel tube is not the place to expect or to receive a mobile telephone signal, text or voice. The interwebnets is captured via a boosted aerial on the forward gun-deck. It is not, therefore, possible to simply wait inside for a delivery as do most bricks and mortar dwellers – even more so since the Cardinal is rarely the point of delivery, since neither he nor I possess a “postcode”. Being old-fashioned and trained to not unnecessarily disconvenience others I tend to be outside, waiting, some twenty minuets (sic; headphones) afore the appointed delivery hour.

A fortnight ago this saw me on Bridge 104 in a minor thunderstorm. I kid you not. The weather is whatever it turns out to be at the appointed hour (in this case 1400-1500 hundred hours o’clock).

This being a public bridge and in the way of a C&RT Yard, long-term moorings, and a working farmyard there were folk passing by (offering advice, conversation and – latterly – tea or coffee). Standing on a raised bridge in a storm I was thus hoping for some sixth sense to give me enough warning of lightning strike for me to be able to say ‘Beam me up, Scottie’ into my sleeve before being vapourised. I would thus enter the hallowed halls of legend and mythology in one fell swoop. It did not happen though. Zeus has little to no sense of occasion or humour.

It is important while Travelling Astrally to avoid collecting high-flying ducks in the engines. This was one of many attempts to photograph a new moon, a sunset over the reservoir and flocks of ducksandgeese flying over all three. I think that perhaps my camera slipped briefly into another dimension. The white smudge upper middle-left is actually The New Moon…

Messrs ASDA didn’t arrive. There are major roadworks nearby; I gave them a little longer. Texts arrived announcing that a., my driver John was on his way and then immediately afterwards b., that my driver John would be a little bit late. I waited some more. I telephoned ASDA’s “customer” “service” number and – eighth wonder of all worldly wonders – not only navigated the “Press 217 with a wet index finger in one ear for all other enquiries” menu system but spoke to what seemed, initially, to be a human being. I was assured that the man and van were definitely on their way and please to wait. I waited. I couldn’t get through to them again by tephelone. I walked back to the boat to access the interwebnets – the ASDA website read “on the way” and the money, the moolah, the dosh had been taken from my bank account. I went back and waited some more, and tried to contact Earth Central again…

…all of which, in the wind and rain (the thunder and lightning having blown through) wasted some five hours of my day.

ASDA remained incommunicado – a recording told me that they, poor loves, were ‘…very busy…’ and ‘…experiencing a high level of customer enquiries…’

Gnoshit, Shylock.

I dug out – and it took some digging – the number of the local branch, the one the man and van were being despatched from… their number announced in robot tones that they were too busy to take customer calls and then it hung up on me. Click, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Some time in the evening, I know not when exactly for I was not watching, the status of my order on the ASDA webbery sight changed to ‘Cancelled’.

The following day Messrs ASDA finally answered me – on “The Twitter” of all things – and I was invited to “DM” them, using the “invited to DM option” and being critically careful to quote code ‘SMT’ as advised. Failure to follow these steps exactly would result in my remaining in the great wailing wash of unanswered “customers”.

There had been a ‘driver issue’ they explained in jaw-dropping detail, as though that were sufficient to dismiss my “do excuse me” enquiry about five hours spent both wasted (and not wasted in a good way) and in meteorological peril.

Gnoshit again, Shylock. A “driver issue”. Dead? Twelve points in his licence and banned? Abducted by aliens? Lost the keys to the van? Hmm.

They offered me a Β£5 voucher as a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

By dint of using long words that I knew they wouldn’t understand I advised them to print out the voucher on Cartridge Paper, to fold it until it was all sharp corners, and to then insert it without prior warning into the ASDA Chairperson’s powder-dry rectum – purely as my own ‘gesture’ of ‘ and furthermore I haven’t been paid Β£1 an hour for my trouble since the nineteen-seventies’.

As with all such corporations the long and the short of it was that they neither understood nor cared – they didn’t even care to care that they didn’t understand – and I could please to oblige them by taking a long walk on a very short pier at high tide.

It is the first time they’ve copied their blotty book in this manner but my goodness me, what a blot. All that it would have taken for sweetness and light to prevail was a text message or a telephone call from the local branch wherein they were experiencing these “driver issues”.

The entire system though, as – again – with all such corporations, is not in the least way designed or set up for the benefit of “customers”. They have entirely lost sight of the nature of their business.

I tried again five days later, once I’d huffed and puffed enough, and this time went out to wait bang on the first minute of the allotted delivery hour. Six minutes beyond the end of the delivery hour I turned around and had taken one, perhaps two steps back towards the Cardinal with my little trolley when I heard the sound of a van scrunching the gravel in the Cheshire potholes…

Well aware that the driver might likely not be the one with “issues” and thus would likely be utterly oblivious I did my best to hide my inner darkness. The driver did his best to be unnecessarily full of cheer.

In another week or two, when broccoli deficiency and medical absence of carrot set in with a vengeace, I shall have to try them again – this time it will perforce be at a different postcode to the scene of the earlier… nonsense… albeit a postcode where I still have to wait outside, for signal and for sight.

Cross your fingers for me.

Arsebury’s [some still term them “Sainsburys”] – having summarily abandoned me during all of the lockdowns and silliness – are beyond the pale.

Morrisons are too “WOKE” [what the hell does that even mean? Is it an acronym or is it a modern “Americanism”?] to ever be used again in my lifetime.

ASDA? Well, we’ll see. I do hope that their copied blottybook is not the sign of some Walmartean decay (for that is their current corporate owner).

There’s always Tescoids, I suppose, but if they fail me where then, Zarathustra?

None in the real world can afford to shop for everything at a local Co-operative Shop. I notice their prices and mutter ‘What do they think I am? An MP?’

Given that the New World Order is arriving apace and we are in some Spitfire-esque screaming dive towards a society once again founded upon the phrase ‘Irhe papiere, bitte…’ with the ‘bitte’ also once again being merely good conversational form rather than indicative of good intent or actual manners, I was sort of hoping to maintain grocery deliveries. Several districts of Germany (of all of the people who ought to have learned from history!) and several districts of Italy have already implemented rules entirely banning from even shopping for essentials those who have yet to fully engage, shall we say, with this global experimental drugs trial. No drug-trial papers; no shops. No anything, in fact. Sinister, much.

Talking of ‘sinister’ (but not of dexter) here’s another of my attempts to photograph Hitchockean flights of avian creatures agin a new moon and a sunset over the reservoir…

This one actually looks like a still from some murder mystery.

Film title ‘He Waited With His Axe Behind The Big Bush’?

Oh well, that’s quite enough drivel for one blog post. There’s more to tell – I’ve mooched on several times since, once initially in early-morning darkness, which is wot were quite fun, and have settled into new digs for a week or so – much, story to be told, to the annoyance of the local anglers.

Je suis ici, ici je reste.

Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies.

Ian H., and Cardinal W.


  1. It’s a damn shame you can’t take advantage of all that luvverly silt and sequester a few veggie seeds therein as you pootle past, then when the next full moon is under the yardarm, pootle in reverse (eltoop) and have a bit of a harvest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Come the apockyclips when the canals are un-tended and drain themselves I wonder what crops Father Nature will plant on the dry canal beds? Bananas would be appropriate, since this is now a banana republic!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the photographs Ian. For once maybe I can impart some good news. I believe Walmart no longer own Asda, which for me is good news. I think the Issa Brothers, a couple of home grown forecourt billionaires bought it. Maybe any changes, when they start, if they start, will benefit you in a good way.

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    1. I did notice in the “news” that Messrs Morrisons had been sold at auction for something on the order of seven American billion of the quids. Doubtless to some under-funded pension fund…

      Back in the day I used to “Buy British” but I have gradually learned that there is no such thing and hasn’t been since Mr Pilchard bought the materials for the Iron Bridge over the Severn. I no longer give a tinker’s cuss!

      I wonder what Walmart -did- with ASDA while they had it? It seems odd to buy something so large and then not play with it for long? It’s all a mystery to me. πŸ™‚

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      1. I can say they removed a lot of things that used to be useful, will forms, tenancy agreements and a lot of artist materials and placed a lot of American ‘Candy’ on the shelves. There was a lot of Dickies heavy duty works clothing and far less availability of mix and match suits and men’s trousers. I suspect one big thing that caught them out was having to pay a fair wage in this Country and not the barely minimum wage they pay in the US. You’re right though, it’s a mystery why they didn’t have it longer. These days you can’t even guarantee that the corner shop is still locally owned with Tesco’s One Stop taking their place.

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  3. Best of luck with Tesco. We gave up on them after, instead of ringing us so we could meet them from the canal, they simply gave all our stuff to a nearby hotel and drove off. By the time we realised what had happened, the kitchen staff were busy putting it all away. Great fun was had by all over the next hour finding it again.

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    1. Egads. The delivery bods do seem to be convinced that everyone lives in a house with driveway and porch lights. A while ago one driver was adamant (Adam Adamant, incarnate?) that he would take my groceries ‘to my door’ for me. He lost all interest in that notion when I explained that my bow doors were a quarter of a mile farther along the towpath. Home delivery of comestibles is a super service, and I shall miss it if it goes.

      Sainsbury’s were fine – until early last year they just one day stopped offering delivery slots and stopped communicating (even blocking me on “social media”!), announcing instead that they were busy ‘feeding the nation’. Hell will see heavy snowfall before I shop with Sainsbury’s again…

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  4. I’ve been researching the term ‘WOKE’ myself, and, as far as I can determine, it’s a general term of negative reference applied by any side of the great political debate derogatorily to describe the opposition without any specific frame of reference. As far as I can tell. I think it stands for Wassock who stands in Opposition to my Core political values and sense of Extremism/Elitism – and is primarily used by anybody who has problems with acronyms and can’t spell properly.

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    1. Curiously ‘WOKE’ is almost onomatopoeic in being as unpleasant a construction as the ideology itself. I shall continue to live my life ‘SNOOZED’, if that is the correct term. We have allowed a most peculiar society to rise up around us, and we have none but ourselves to blame. It can’t be long now before even dogs give up on us as a lost cause…

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  5. Oh my goodness! It’s very wobbly for us barn dwellers but I really felt for you there. I’ve had one not arrive until next day (which I had to book the time for again) to one recently with ‘driver issues’ and several updating texts later managed to not be several hours late but arrived on the stroke of the 12.00-01.00 and still they e mailed to apologise??? My life is often plagued by substitutes of inappropriate goods and I think it’s left to the pickers to decide what they would fancy in the said situation. But at least I have a post code. Driver shortage is an issue not just for HGV it is across the board but why are there millions of people unemployed when they can’t get so many areas covered like abbatoirs, chicken pluckers, crop gatherers etc.? And still they moan – ‘coming over here taking the jobs I don’t want because it’s too much like hard work’ brigade have really stuffed up this country.

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    1. Deliveries are a “luxury” that I can see being mysteriously disappeared soon for the usual spurious reasons – or at least reduced and only available on production of written proof of two doses of anything from the Middle Ages and three tin legs per household. The whole western human social urban and rural system has been predicated on car ownership, and that is now to be a thing of the past. Problems will arise as surely as has whatever one’s personal notion may be of The Dark One. πŸ˜‰ Convenience and customer care are superfluous things in societis run on openly totalitarian lines.

      We’ll all be wearing third-generation battered tweed coats, torn Paisley pattern nylon headscarves, wrinkled hosiery and boots with cardboard soles before long – as we queue for our weekly potato.


  6. Has it ever crossed your mind to locate a supermarcardo close to a canal, order a cab and do what the rest of us hoi polloi do… grace them with a visit? Only arsking?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, no – not on my income. Think “single person’s basic pension” and you’re not far off albeit on the generous side! A taxi would cost half of what I more ordinarily spend on the groceries… πŸ˜‰

      There are options, but only in towns which are widely spaced (when travelling by canal boat) and unpleasant at the best of times, let alone this; a dark and stormy night.


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