Yes, We Have No Pajamas
Stacia BriggsThe flags are at half-mast, the hummous lies ignored in its pot and everyone's stopped moaning about those bloody wheelie bins - it can only mean one thing: Tesco's Unthank Road store is set to open in the summer.Stacia Briggs
Yes, We Have No Pajamas
The flags are at half-mast, the hummous lies ignored in its pot and everyone's stopped moaning about those bloody wheelie bins - it can only mean one thing: Tesco's Unthank Road store is set to open in the summer.
Short of setting up a Greenham Common-style camp on the former site of the 24-hour Arlington Service Station (RIP), the residents of the Golden Triangle did everything in their power to stop Tescopoly reaching our middle-class stronghold.
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There were letters, meetings, websites, petitions and posters. But stopping Tesco in its tracks is like trying to halt an intercity train with a spider's web. We have to face facts: one of the Co-ops on Unthank Road might not make it.
Having fought them on the beaches, opposite the Lily Langtry pub and next door to a B&B since 2004, you might have been forgiven for thinking that the new Express branch would have sprung up overnight. But no.
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Approval was granted in January 2009 and 13 months later, the proposed site is still Tesco-free, populated only by some oil-stained concrete, a few sickly bushes and some mournful members of the Green Party.
But last week, the company announced that the new store will open its doors in the summer, although it failed to say whether the Unthank Road store will be banning pajama-wearing locals as it has done in Cardiff.
Personally, I think this is yet another stealth tax against mothers.
I have regularly undertaken the school run in my pajamas and, in order to save the environment and help the polar bears, have stopped off on the way home to buy a few essentials, like Cadbury Mini Eggs and Powerade rather than make a separate trip later.
No one has ever dared to stop me in the aisles to question my attire, which possibly says much for how monstrous I look in the mornings.
The Unthank Road Tesco site, has, of course, got a long history of positively welcoming people who turned up in their pajamas in the middle of the night - at a 24-hour garage, such sartorial style is the norm, rather than out-of-the-ordinary.
Many was the time I joined the queue with a group of people who wouldn't have looked out of place in a nightwear catalogue for tramps; no one was offended, although to be fair, 95 per cent of those queuing were on strange substances (not me, Mum).
A few weeks ago, I went to the Co-op - in New Costessey, I like to live a little - and as I was perusing the frozen food aisle I saw three young women by the ice-cream section wearing their pajamas and arguing about whether a full English breakfast included dessert.
Obviously, I was outraged. I am always outraged when I discover that anyone has had a lie in, a luxury I had to forgo thanks to the gift of children 12 years ago.
Their pajamas, on the other hand, didn't offend me at all: when you've got an adolescent of your own, the first rule of parenting is that you must totally ignore blatant attempts to shock you with 'zany' attire - it only encourages them.
According to a spokesman at the pajama-banning Tesco store in Cardiff, nightwear was banned 'in case it offends or causes embarrassment to other customers'.
He added: 'We're not a nightclub with a strict dress code, and jeans and trainers are, of course, more than welcome.'
It's one step away from forcing people to cover up piano legs before a passing workman glances into a house and becomes uncontrollably aroused at their shapely form - does anyone have time to get offended at what people are wearing in the supermarket?
If so, pop round to mine and I'll give you some jobs to take your mind off things - I might even get dressed before you arrive (as long as it's after 1pm).
As far as the new Tesco is concerned, to anyone worried that the new store will cause the end of the world as we know it - for example, we may soon have a supermarket where milk DOESN'T run out at 2pm - I'd offer advice along the same lines as that I'd give to people who are disgusted by a particular television programme.
If you're offended by something you see on TV, turn it off. If you're offended by Tesco Express, don't shop there.
It's not Tesco that kills small shops, it's shoppers.
If you want to keep Unthank Road's distinctive, specialist shops that offer personal service, professional advice and helpful staff (or the Co-ops) then keep shopping with them. In, or out of your pajamas.
In Which I Justify My Stupid Degree (Kind Of)
I've always loved Big Brother - there, I've said it.
For some reason that clearly seemed rational and sensible at the time, I chose to take a degree in Sociology, where the mere idea of being able to lock humans in a compound for weeks on end with no access to the outside world was a Sociologist's wet dream.
In those days, ethnomethodolgy - the technical term we in the know give to taking people out of their comfort zones and experimenting on them willy-nilly to see how quickly they become gibbering wrecks rocking in a corner and weeping - was frowned upon.
The closest we ever came to pure ethnomethodolgy was when we were sent out into the field to worry bus passengers by sitting next to them even if there were plenty of other spaces available on the bus.
After a few minutes, we had to rest our heads on their shoulders, without saying a word. Seeing as I studied in Liverpool, this was a high risk strategy; nowhere in any of our text books did it suggest whether or not our aim to inform the scientific community would be compromised if we were put into a coma mid-experiment.
This long preamble forms my main excuse as to why I enjoy watching Big Brother, or the excuse I use if someone clever starts being a bit snotty about the 'validity' of reality television (in the same way, when strangers used to make unwarranted comments about my daughter using a dummy when she was little, I would tell them that she'd had to use one in the special care baby unit or she'd have lost the ability to suck. That shut them up).
Ten days ago, possibly the last ever series of Celebrity Big Brother came to an end - there have been complaints that the format is tired and that the concept has run its course; nonsense. They just need to pick the right celebrities.
I suggest a World Cup themed set of housemates to get people in the mood for this year's tournament - imagine the potential of a 'social experiment' if the housemates were John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Wayne Rooney, an elderly prostitute, Glenn Hoddle, someone vocal from the United Kingdom's Disabled People's Council, Ulrika Jonsson, Nancy Dell'Olio, Victoria Beckham and Rebecca Loos and Ashley Cole and a handful of glamour models.
I offer that idea to Channel 4 for nothing. Never let it be said that I took Sociology in vain.
Exam Cheating 101
According to new research, thousands of students were penalised last year after cheating on their GCSE and A level papers - a six per cent increase in a year.
The cheating method of choice is taking an iPod or mobile phone into an exam and accessing the internet while the invigilator's back is turned (at my school, the invigilator's back was never turned. And they never blinked. I'm not entirely sure they were human).
It's all so dreadfully modern, and a far cry from the olden days when your only chance of cheating involved the theatrical disgorging of your desk's contents on to the floor and a sly glance at a fellow student's work as you picked it all up again.
This only worked if you were sitting next to someone clever, knowledgeable and well-revised. In other words, when I was at school, it barely worked at all.
Scientists last year discovered that chewing gum can improve memory and brain performance in examinations, with students' ability to remember information improved by 35 per cent if they were consulting Professor Wrigley.
In my exam, my ability to remember a particularly hellish maths formula was improved by 100 per cent due to chewing gum - I had written the answer on the wrapper, glued it back round the gum and then ate the evidence along with the gum.