Monday, January 16, 2012

1986: Your comfort

A quiet weekend at the student house. Eight of us shared a four storey Georgian thing right in the middle of town (more or less), which while having been renovated and modified, was a uniform shade of magnolia and had no central heating.

So when the snow came down around this time in '86 we were chilled to the bone. None more so than me, who had the basement (my choice - it had its own front door) and just a mattress on the floor (also my choice - I thought it was groovy. It wasn't).

That weekend there were only three of us there. It was chucking it down with snow and not a good day to do anything much. But we all needed food and one of them had a car, so why not a trip to Sainsbury's?

This was exciting. Usually it was the veggie co-op on the way home, a ragged place run by ex-hippies and the odd crusty which sold nasty looking mishapen vegetables at quite a cost. But this being the Eighties and a student area it was OK because it was a right-on thing to be a) working at; and b) shopping at, or a convenience store.

Being students, veg wasn't top of the agenda so more often than not it was that convenience store that totally lived up to its name, though the food was suspect. Someone bought some Just Juice there once and it had gone off in 1984.

As far as supermarkets went, there was a Presto (which I noticed recently was now a Waitrose), was the only real place for all your Pot Noodle, pork pie, Fray Bentos and cheese & onion slice needs. Or if you were feeling really flush you might get a Findus shitbox platter from the local Londis. Whatever, there was never anything fancy.

A trip to Sainsbury's was a different matter entirely, however. There was a large on on the outskirts of town that I remember visiting with my grandma when I was but a tot. They did those breakfast rashers that were made of something other than bacon but which were totally delicious and the orangeyness of the whole experience made me feel all warm inside. Every time I have grilled spam on toast I get that feeling.

The only drawback to Sainsbury's though, was that it was expensive if you were a student. But that didn't stop me stocking up on all sorts of things that I had to eat before the house filled up again, or you'd not see it for dust. Remember those shared kitchen days? What a nightmare. That said, I didn't baulk at nicking milk or eating crisps then disposing of the evidence outside the house.

So off we went. I don't know why I remember this particular instance as being a standout moment in my life, but getting to the supermarket that day, the snow pummelling down and skidding all over the place in someone's rubbish Mini with no heating and steamed up windows while this song came on the radio will stay with me forever, unlike the steak and kidney pudding and cans of Kestrel I had that night.


  1. I had completely forgotten this song ever existed, which is odd as it was quite big at the time. Didn't it have a blue-tinged video?

    I was refused to compromise on my diet even when I was a student, and went to Sainsbury's every week for whatever I fancied. And Wednesdays, where we started at 9am and had lectures RIGHT THROUGH TILL 1PM,often provided my Best Girl and me with a good excuse to get ready meals from M&S as we were "too tired to cook". I ask you.

    If I met the then me now, I'd give myself a damn good thrashing.

  2. M&S ready meals! I didn't know such a thing existed. What luxury.

    I did try and eat healthily, being a fan of veg, but it was too much effort. When julienne carrots when you could have Batchelor's mushroom flavour savoury rice?

    Too tired to cook - to me that meant having a packet of Frazzles.

  3. This song is already programmed into a certain 80s show this weekend.

    Meanwhile, congratulations on concocting the expression "Findus shitbox platter". That's made me laugh a lot.

  4. Never mind the ready meals, I don't think I even knew M&S sold food during my college days! It had to be Tesco or Sainsburys for me though - helpful that one or the other was 20 mins or less walk from every place I lived in.