If there's one thing that is guaranteed to reduce human civilisation to its knees, spread doom and pestilence across the face of the Earth and forever scatter all of mankind's mighty works to the four winds, it's shopping.

You think I'm exaggerating, but anyone who has ever stood behind someone in a supermarket for fifteen minutes while - lips moving slowly in some secret, silent mantra - he reads the label on a bottle of shampoo, will understand exactly what I mean.

What force, what process can further diminish the mental capacity of your average imbecile to the point where he is apparently rooted to the spot, seemingly unable to remember how to make his legs move? Shopping, that's what.

Instructional DVD

Hello. My name is Doctor Adolphous Bongo and my apologies to anyone who has been unable to get hold of my best-selling instructional DVD Beating Cerebral Mildew, which offers a revolutionary new non-invasive way of curing terminal brain rot.

As a result of this remarkable course, many sufferers are now well enough to write to me - albeit mostly in crayon - and their clumsy scrawl, colourful hieroglyphics and charmingly artless potato printing not only fills me with pride, but is the most convincing proof I have ever encountered of life after death.


Which is not something I have much faith in whenever I find myself in my local supermarket. You see, if you're the kind of zombie who can't go into a store to buy a pint of milk without seeing something shiny, wandering off in a daze and eventually emerging with three feet of liquorice bootlaces, a family size pack of drain cleaner and a miniature snooker table, then there's something clearly very wrong with you.

And yet my local hypermarket seems to be packed to the grubby polystyrene ceiling tiles with these diseased offcuts of the human race, milling around aimlessly, bumping into product displays and gabbling in astonished wonderment about two-for-one offers on liquid gumption.

Quite why people are prepared to gather in great numbers in these cathedrals to the clueless is something I have never been able to fathom. Speaking as someone who prefers to stand apart from the baying throng, I fail to understand how these cretins can tolerate each other's company.

Considered and considerable

In my own considered opinion - which, being a doctor, is both considered and considerable - the only factor that enables them to get through the day without one of their fellow citizens, in a moment of uncontrollable altruism, sticking a pick axe through their brains, is the shortage of decent pick axe shops.

So this is why my visits to the local grocery emporium take the form of lightening sorties, usually undertaken late at night to minimise the risk of accidental contact with ordinary people.

Appropriately enough, considering my profession, it's a surgical strike: I'm in, I'm out, and I've managed to obtain my box of cornflakes and half a dozen eggs with the minimum of collateral damage to my dwindling patience.

General riffraff

I have requested that my local store manager closes his establishment to the general riffraff in order to accommodate my weekly shop, but the spineless ball of blubber has repeatedly refused.

I thought it not an unreasonable request, given my position as a professional man and a pillar of the community, but the jumped up till-jockey seems not to share that opinion. Fat boy is far too wet to actually tell me to my face where I can stick my idea, and prefers to hide behind a gibbering torrent of polite excuses - but the contempt is there in his eyes, even if he doesn't have the backbone to put it into words.

All this means is that I'm forced to take matters into my own hands, and my visits to the supermarket are therefore invariably punctuated by a great deal of pushing, shouting and unspecific yet unmistakable threats of violence. I find that a shopping trolley - when driven with vigour and a suitably satisfying disregard for the niceties of social intercourse - can clear an aisle quite effectively.

A kick in the trousers

From then on it's a simple enough matter to mop up any stragglers by means of a sharp tug on the collar or a kick in the trousers, and my path to the comestibles is clear.

By the time I reach the checkout, word has got around and the smart people have scattered. What's left is a stubborn residue of dim, self-righteous and invariably pompous citizenry who talk loudly and disapprovingly about 'queue jumpers' and stubbornly refuse to stand aside.

It's a guilty pleasure of mine to jam their fingers into the conveyor belt, force a carrier bag over their heads and bundle them over the counter and into the cigarette kiosk. Sometimes it makes the whole trip worthwhile.

Caught my eye

Actually, now I come to think of it, on my last visit there was something that caught my eye. It was a DVD by Freddy 'Chipboard' Piper, whom I understand is one of those 'do-it-yourself' chaps off the telly. You know, the fellows who let themselves into someone's bungalow while they're out, redecorate their spare room, then film the unfortunate owner pretending to be pleased about it when they come home.

I mention this now because the programme would be absolutely ideal for any of those poor sufferers of cerebral mildew who have failed to get hold of my DVD. I wouldn't normally plug somebody else's product, but in this case not only will you find some distraction from the constant pain by learning the correct way to put up shelves, but the section on damp coursing is not a million miles away from my cure for brain rot.

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