Wednesday, 30 December 2009

''No photos, we're a supermarket''

Supermarkets, what are they like? Very often, my choice of supermarket is governed by some small item that I want to buy and then the rest just sort of arrives in the basket. Very often this means mustard. I'm a bit fussy with mustard: the Colmans English has bite but not a well-rounded flavour, Dijon is ok as a standby but I prefer German- or Jewish-style mustard. I once got stopped at Geneva airport because of the tubes of mustard (Swiss mi-fort mustard comes close) in my hand baggage. Apparently, if they'd let me through with the mustard I could have applied it to my body and blown the plane up. Confiscated. But all this is another subject...

Back to supermarkets: Somerfields in Greenwich used to sell German mustard. They stopped. Sainsburys used to do an own-brand German-syle version. They stopped. Tescos in Surrey Quays used to sell a German mustard until a couple of years ago. They stopped. I've all but given up now, though I now tend to cycle to Waitrose in Beckenham just to buy their Tewkesbury mustard, which is usually a 10 mile journey. So I tend to buy 2 jars at a time. (Ok, I could go the the nearer Canary Wharf Waitrose, but that wouldn't be as much fun.)

And sometimes I just stop at any old supermarket on the return leg of a little ride. Just before Christmas I stopped at ASDA at Charlton. Now, there's absolutely no chance of getting decent mustard there - but there are also no hills or stairs before I get to the foot of my incontournable 67 stairs at home. Anyhow, having previously looked around in vain for a proper place to lock the bike and noting that their customers are generally the fattest I have ever seen - I decided to avail myself of the camera I had with me for evidence of their lack of facilities. So I took this one, because although the railing is not meant for bikes, it's all I'd ever seen.And then I set off round the corner where I'd seen a sign for motorbike parking and a very tidy smoking shed but nothing for cyclists. And I took 2 pics of that. However, some ASDroid having a ciggie took exception to me taking photos. He emerged from the shed and informed me that ASDA do not allow photos to be taken of ASDA facilities (OR LACK OF) or of ASDroids. Not being interested in the photo that he could conceivably have been identified in, I deleted it in front of him. I then told him that I was taking photos of ASDA facilities (LACK OF) and that if he wanted me to delete the previous photo he'd have to restrain me and call the police. At this point, he got out his phone out to call the police.

So I said, ''Are you going to restrain me?''
''No,'' was the reply.
''Oh well, I'll be on my way, then.''

And on my way I went. Here's the photo:So, scanning from right to left, there's a Disabled Parking sign with another sign attached ''Strictly no parking....Emergency Vehicles Only.'' Accompanied by strictly parked vehicles. Then there's the smoking shelter. Then there's the motorbike sign. And finally I discovered ASDA's bike facilities: a row of ''wheel benders'' beneath the motorbike sign. Note that they're being used in direct proportion to their utility. No one knows they are there and no one will ever use them - but they're not there to be used, are they?

Strange, if you go to the ASDA website, they have lots of stuff on how open they are - they even have a webcam of people wandering around the foyer of ASDA house, they have nothing, NOTHING at all about not allowing photos and menacing customers with calling the police for testing that much-vaunted openness.

Window into Asda

Openness and access - we don't want to do everything "behind closed doors"

Oh, well, there's another store on my ever-growing veto list. Come and get me, ASDA!


Deptford dame said...

Ho ho, nice one! You will have to get one of those badges saying 'I'm a photographer, not a terrorist!' As regards the mustard, I guess you have tried Housewives? I don't think I've seen any German mustard in there, but I was recently surprised to find that they sell Dijon, I had not expected it at all! And it's always worth checking back from time to time because their stock does change.

Marmoset said...

I've just completed a successful campaign to get Housewives to restock their Patak's Mixed Pickle - so I better get on with buying a couple more jars before I take up mustard arms with them!

Anonymous said...

some good points our experience in Aberdeen is that Asda are the worst in terms of bike parking.

Another reason for cyclists not to shop there: a lot of their offers are "buy 5, get 1 free". Not much use if you're limited in what you can carry.

John said...

Strangely I experienced a similar problem in trying to find German mustard. I developed a pregnancy-type craving for the stuff but couldn't find any. The craving has now passed. One suggestion I have though is to try the "The Sausage Man" in Lewisham. He doesn't sell it but does have it available for the wursts and, so, must be able to get hold of it easily enough. It wouldn't be unreasonable for him to start selling it for the uncooked sausages that he sells.

Incidentally, in the unlikely event that you haven't already seen The Sauasage Man, don't be disappointed to find that he's not actually made of sausage. It broke my heart.