The other day I saw someone with a shopping trolley loaded with food ... in the lift of our block of flats. It's not the first time. It seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do if you live next door to the supermarket as we do. Just push the trolley from one building to another. Mind you, I have never yet plucked up the courage to walk out of the supermarket and in through our front door with a supermarket trolley. I must be too well trained in British trolley etiquette.
At our local Tesco in Saddleworth, UK, there are notices close to the exit warning customers that their trolleys will stop automatically if they try to push them any further. Actually, unless there is some powerful magnet mechanism under the pavement at that point I really don't see how this could happen. But once again I have lacked the courage to test the system. I have often pushed a laden trolley to the back of the supermarket where their lorries come in and out but I always leave it there, never going out onto the road.
There is also, of course, that very British fear of looking silly pushing your trolley full of shopping down the street. Here in Spain, or at least in our bit of Vigo, nobody seems to bat an eyelid at such a sight.
Then there is the plastic carrier bag question. At the Mercadona next door if you need a plastic carrier bag they charge you something like 1 céntimo for a small one and 2 céntimos for a big one. I have yet to hear anyone complain about this. And yet it appears that they are expecting confusion and arguments at checkouts in the UK when a 5p charge for carrier bags is introduced in October. And why 5p when a poorer country like Spain can charge only 1 or 2 céntimos?
There is a list of purchases that will qualify you for a free UK supermarket carrier bag: uncooked fish, meat and poultry products, potatoes, flowers, unwrapped blades and “live aquatic creatures in water". (None of the supermarkets I frequent sell "live aquatic creatures in water" but I suppose that if you go to somewhere like Pets at Home, a kind of pets supermarket, and buy a goldfish you might qualify for a free bag. Whereas if you buy fishfood you would need to pay for your carrier bag.) The poor cashiers will have to be ready to argue the case for charging or not charging for a carrier bag - all for 5p per bag!
It is all meant to help us preserve the environment. Government policy wants to reduce waste by cutting bag use by up to 80 per cent in supermarkets and by half on the high street, with the aim of reducing litter and protecting wildlife. I remain somewhat unconvinced however.
Oh, don't get me wrong; I am all on favour of reducing the number of plastic bags used. I re-use my plastic carriers. And I have several of those "bags for life", the ones you pay 20 or 30 céntimos for. Incidentally, here in Spain they mark the label in the bag to show that you have paid for it: far less trusting than Tesco or Sainsbury's.
No, it's a different kind of plastic bag use that concerns me.
Here in Spain, for example, when you buy fruit or veg you put it in a plastic bag, weigh it yourself and stick on the bag he label spat out by the scales. In some supermarkets a shop assistant does the weighing for you. The problem is that there is only one size of plastic bag available (huge) whether you buy two kilos of potatoes or two individual tomatoes! And so you end up with a collection of plastic bags, each with a price label stuck on, which cannot be re-used for shopping as they are not carrier bags with handles. How many people, I wonder, use them as bin liners in the bathroom as I do? Even that is impossible if a helpful shop assistant has tied a tight knot in the bag so that you have to tear it to get at your purchases!
That's enough of that. If the loonies are right we will not be around much longer to worry about any of it. Minority Christian groups have apparently predicted the world will end later this month – when they say a ‘blood moon’ will bring about an apocalyptic meteor strike.
Scientists say a ‘blood moon’ will occur on September 28, when the moon passes into the shadow of the earth cast by the Sun (a lunar eclipse) and appears dim and reddish. I hope I get to see this 'blood moon'. Usually when interesting phenomena like this are in the skies wherever I am is too cloudy for me to witness what is going on.
Anyway, some religious leaders believe that because this is the fourth consecutive lunar eclipse since April 2014, it is part of a "tertrad" - which foretells a meteorite destroying earth and the end of time.
So there you go! Enjoy the few weeks remaining to us! Be profligate in your use of plastic bags! Push trolleys all over the place! And if we are still around after September 28, then we can go back to protecting the environment!