Today’s ‘To Do List’ includes taking mater for her weekly food shop. A well choreographed routine spent at the White Rose Shopping Centre (WR), Leeds, starting with a Costa coffee, purchase of comestibles from M&S, calling in Clintons for a greetings card, before the main weekly shop for consumables at Sainsburys.

As I alluded to above, we religiously follow this retail regime; never calling at M&S, Sainsburys or Clintons first. The only ever variation to the sojourn is the day in which we make the trip…… Although it’s generally a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as my mum spends the other days of the week writing all the chuffing cards see buys in Clintons.

I’ve never known anyone send as many greetings cards as Maggie Strachan. There’s not a week goes by when this thoughtful, caring lady leaves the White Rose bereft of a greetings, sympathy or congratulations card.

The messages are always genuinely meant, however they can dispatched for the most obscure of reasons. Occasions such as Burns Night (the bloke off The Simpsons, not Rabbie), Uncle Sherman’s dog’s birthday or Uncle Shermans dogs owner’s birthday……. Actually, the latter is Uncle Sherman. I wonder why she doesn’t pen that!!

Her seemingly indiscriminate posting of greetings, sympathy and congratulations cards often lead to conversations of the following nature as we walk from M&S towards Clintons:-

Maggie Strachan (MS) – “I need to nip into Clintons to get Melanie a birthday card, Gary.”

Me – “Who’s Melanie?”

MS – “You’ll remember her. She lived on Dawlish Gardens in Gateshead – The girl who was in the year below you at Heathfield.”

Me (pulling bemused visage) – “That doesn’t help. There were loads of girls in the year below at Heathfield. I honestly can’t recall her, mum.”

MS (looking surprised) – “You must remember her, she lived next door to the chip shop.”

Me (still bemused) – “There wasn’t a chip shop on Dawlish Gardens!”

MS – “Sorry, I meant lived next door to Audie Hatton.”

Me (no less bemused) – “I’ve no recollection of Audie Hatton either, mum.”

MS (appearing irritated) “You must remember Audie. She went to the church…… You know, the one who campaigned for a chip shop on Dawlish Gardens.”

Me (now completely and utterly bemused) – “Why the hell would she campaign for a chip shop on Dawlish Gardens?!”

MS (deadpan) – “She liked fish and chips and couldn’t be a**ed to walk to the one on Allerdene!”

Me (in despair) – “Well I assumed she failed with the campaign. I can’t remember Audie Hatton, but do recall there was never a chippy within that suburban cul-de-sac.”

MS (disbelieving of my poor powers of recall) – “You did know Audie. Her son Nigel was in the year above you at Heathfield….. You must remember him. The lad who looked in need of a good fish supper.”

Me – “Nope…… Anyhow, we’re at Clintons now, mum. I’ll sit out here (concourse seat) and wait for your while you pick up Melanie’s card.”

With that she wandered into the card shop, while I took a pew in the shopping centres walkway. Thirty minutes later she exited Clintons with four cards in her hand.

Me (bemused yet again) – “I thought you only needed one card, mum.”

MS – “I did initially. However, two women I chatted to in there mentioned they’ve upcoming birthdays, and the girl on the counter is getting married next week.”

fish and chips