Just returned from the local supermarket and am exhausted. Not because I don’t like shopping. I love wandering the aisles; one which is full of cured legs of ham, or the fish stall with its live crabs and lobsters and array of fish as ugly as they are tasty: cherne, vieja, rape, dorada (monkfish – quite the ugliest sister of the bunch) octopus, squid, cuttlefish and things stuck to rocks which I’ve no idea what they are, or what you do with them, as well as a whole host of other characters. The meat section is equally intriguing and visiting friends, used to the non-animal appearance of meats in a British supermarket, are suitably horrified at the sight of whole small skinned piglets, rabbits, pigs’ ears, sheep ears, trotters, tongues and tails.
The interesting thing about this supermarket, the size of a small village, is that the ready-meal section doesn’t even fill half an aisle and consists of a few pizzas and a selection of frozen empanadas. This is still a country which actually cooks.
Anyway, the reason that today was different than other visits was that it was ‘todo a 1 euro’ time. This means a huge area of the supermarket is given over to aisles full of all manner of bits and bobs, all priced 1 euro. This ingenious marketing ploy brings in people from all over the valley; it’s like the first day of the January sales. People pushing and shoving to fill their baskets and trolleys with the ‘treasures’ on offer. When my father-in-law, Gerry visited, he loved ‘todo a 1 euro’ days. Being Irish, he was like a kid in a sweet shop at the idea of all the bargains to be had. He would fill his basket with items that he ‘desperately needed’, most of it junk that would never be touched again. Although it isn’t really fair to mock him, I’ve been seduced myself and have forked out my euro for such diamonds as secateurs which struggled to cut a blade of grass, head torches whose beam would struggle to get you to the light switch in a darkened room and batteries whose lives are exhausted by the effort of being taken out of their packet. On the other hand I’ve also bought a nifty hand held tree saw and…and…actually, I can’t remember anything else useful.
Gerry died last year and I miss him. I miss the enthusiasm that he had for life and the world, even at 75, but every time the supermarket holds a ‘todo a 1 euro’ day, I see him rummaging through the boxes, eyes bright like an excited schoolboy. The signs might say that everything’s only a euro, but to me they’re priceless.