Thursday, 28 April 2016

*Crosses 'Go Shopping With Deborah Orr' Off The Bucket List*

This woman – small, cropped hair, all in black, a tiny rucksack almost managing to create the illusion of healthy proportion – was choosing ice-cream in a frenzy of extreme mental distress. She would lean over the huge cabinet, her eyes darting over the plastic tubs in terror, as if one of them – she didn’t know which – had the gun that was going to kill her. Then, she would rotate her head, making sure no one was near, and she’d seize the flavour she had decided on, cradle the carton to her chest and scurry furtively towards the checkout. But, she would change her mind, scurry back to her spot, replace her selection and pace agitatedly away, hugging herself, putting her hands by her sides, hugging herself again. Then pace back. Then pace away. Then pace back and start trying again to decide which – if any – carton of ice-cream to purchase. The poor woman was locked compulsively into making a literally agonising choice.
So...does she need you goggling at her, Debotah?
I knew what was happening. Of course I did.
Of course you did....
Here was a woman in plain view in a public place, in the throes of a savage mental breakdown. The heft of her guilt, shame and self-loathing was obvious, but I didn’t know how to approach her, or whether it would be wise to try at all.
Maybe she just really couldn't decide between salted caramel and Bailey's. I sometimes have the same problem.

Of course, I usually solve it by buying both...
Strangely, no one else seemed to notice this searingly painful psychodrama.
No-one else has your searing insight, Deborah. Not to mention your all-encompassing compassion.
I thought of dialling 999 – this was in the days before 111. But I knew it would be useless.
Well....that's not the word I'd have chosen.
Then – third time lucky – she strode all the way to the checkout, bought the ice-cream and left the supermarket, taking all of her considerable troubles with her. All I could do was hope she had good support from her family and friends who loved her, and access to mental-health services that knew what they were doing. People do recover from eating disorders, mostly. People are also killed by them. Far too often.
*stifles comment*
...maybe it’s just the middle-class circles I move in, but what I notice about young people who fall victim to eating disorders is that they’re very often people who have complex, dazzling choices.
So we should all be restricted to a choice of vanilla ice cream, or nothing. For our own good.

10 comments:

stengle said...

Generally, if you look round any public place, one can see different shades of sad sacks and odd examples of humanity. I know Guardian journalists don't encounter ordinary people often, but they should try more.

But equally, I can imagine the girl buying the ice cream thinking much the same things about her Guardian-elite watcher. The lass was probably glad to get away in case the journalist went a little crazy on the spot.

Anonymous said...

"So we should all be restricted to a choice of vanilla ice cream, or nothing. For our own good."

I could just about live with that but just don't restrict me to vanilla sex as well.

Stonyground

Lord T said...

Seems to me like your average woman is going bonkers. To agonize so much over what should be a simple decision makes a mockery of them leading multinational companies. Oh No. Should I invest £20M here or should I sack 2,000 workers or should I just toss a coin and get rum and raisin ice-cream.

Decisions decisions.

Oswald Thake said...

Ms. Orr well up in the running for daft Guardian bint of the month, methinks.

John M said...

Deborah clearly doesbn't get outside much because I see people like that in Asda every time I shop there.

Perhaps Debs should stick to doing what all well heeeled Grauniad colmunists do and use Ocado

Flaxen Saxon said...

Shame she didn't video the'drama' on her latest i phone and up load it to Arsebook.

The Jannie said...

The last time I encountered a notable performance it was a little old lady in a French supermarket. She carefully examined the contents of the ice cream freezer cabinet, coughed heartily and open-mouthed over the contents and walked off. We didn't have ice cream that day . . .

Andrew Scarborough said...

Deborah, it's called "the munchies".

Anonymous said...

I can remember the agony of decision back in the 40s when sweets were rationed.
I never quite recovered.

JuliaM said...

"I know Guardian journalists don't encounter ordinary people often, but they should try more."

I think it might help if they spoke to their nannies and cleaners and gardeners...

"I could just about live with that but just don't restrict me to vanilla sex as well."

:D

"Seems to me like your average woman is going bonkers."

Thankfully not, just the ones with far too much time on their hands!