When I started this blog I thought it would stretch to twenty or so posts about my year in Lyon. Then I would return to the UK and forget about it. Consign it to the digital graveyard.
Three and a half years later and I’m still writing it. Twenty posts has ended up as two hundred. Two hundred posts on 21st century France with plenty of my ill-thought-out wisdom thrown in for good measure.
I was planning a long drawn out rambling monologue to celebrate this milestone. Instead, I’m going to talk about Leader Price.
Leader Price, the best supermarket in France. Why? Because it’s sensible. Lots of colours and big pointy signs showing me the way to the things I need without having to gain a degree in supermarket geometry in order to buy a packet of Chinese noodles.
I don’t know why all supermarkets can’t be this simple. The E. Leclerc up the road is like a giant jumble sale. Products tossed randomly into any space available. Chickens in the soft toy department. Apples and pears in with the soft cheeses. Fresh fish next to the chocolate. Wine stacked on top of the milk. Beer fighting for space with the baguettes.
Leader Price on the other hand is a paradigm of logic that my simple mind enjoys. Like an amoeba survives by reacting to outside stimulus, I survive by reacting to brightly coloured signs showing me the way to ham, cheese, coffee, and red wine.
Its limited range of products means I no longer have to suffer the agony of choice when choosing my evening meal. Choice being one of the greatest irritations of modern life. Take beard trimmers for instance.
With the explosion of the so-called hipster generation – guys with beards and buttoned up shirts – beard trimmers have become the new must-have accessory for the modern man. I went to choose one last month from E. Leclerc (Leader Price don’t stock electrical products) only to be assaulted by no less than thirty different brands and models.
I bought one ten years ago in Bristol from Superdrug when there was only one type on the market. It said Beard Trimmer For Men on the packet. 15 pounds.
I don’t like choice. Choice leads to indecision. Indecision to frustration. Frustration to heavy drinking. Heavy drinking to buying stuff you don’t need. Like beard trimmers when I don’t even have a beard any more.
The Leader Price here reminds me of the Kwik Save in St. Anns in Nottingham where I used to shop as a student. I once wrote a sitcom about four boys in a band entitled Crushed Soup.
I called it Crushed Soup after a trip to Kwik Save to buy some soup when I had a chronic sore throat. I wanted normal soup – Crushed Soup. But all they had was Chunky Soup. Which is agony to eat when your glands are the size of beach balls and you can barely swallow your own spit.
I finished the sitcom and sent it off to the BBC. I never got a reply and promptly forgot about it. Until I was in Leader Price last week.
‘Whatever happened to that sitcom I wrote,’ I thought as I rounded the frozen veg section.
When I got back home I searched my computer and there it was: The Crushed Soup by Philip Ogley. Just as I had left it eighteen years ago. The cursor flashing just in front of the words THE END as though I had finished it that day. The ink still wet.
A lot has happened since that day in Nottingham. A lot of places. A lot of jobs. A lot of people. A lot of Blogley.