All was well until I got to the till. Cashier With Extremely Long Nails threw my shopping down the conveyor belt and didn't engage in either conversation or eye contact. She informed me of the total of my bill ("Sixty eight fifty five") and held out her talons for both my Nectar card and method of payment - I handed her the joint account card. It was then that disaster struck. I couldn't remember the PIN number.
Nope. Little grey cells not willing to co-operate with my poised finger. Nothing, nada, nish. Cashier With Extremely Long Nails shot me a look and asked if there was a problem. I ignored her and tried to remember the magic number. There's definitely a 4 in it somewhere but the rest of the numbers eluded me. "I can't remember my PIN number" I said in a "silly old me!" tone of voice. "No PIN number?" CWELN raised a bestudded eyebrown. I handed her my own bank card and she swapped them over, looking at me as if I were about to run out of the shop lugging my trolley.
The queue behind me (incidentally, the longest queue in the entire shop) were gazing at me in varying stages of interest and pity. "Enter your pin" CWELN said in a bored tone of voice. "Hah! This PIN is dead simple to remember! I'll show you!" I said to myself and prepared to unleash my finger jabbing technique. Nope, couldn't remember that one either. Bugger.
I was burning hot with mortification at this point - my shopping was mocking me as I glanced down at it in the trolley in the vague hope that my PIN number would somehow be miraculously spelt out for me in the illicit chocolate fingers lurking within. CWELN was now buzzing for a supervisor and the crowd behind me were getting restless. One Dulwich Daddy (tweed jacket with leather elbows, casual jeans and the smell of Old Money) explained very patiently (and loudly) to his precocious child that "the lady hasn't got any money to pay her bill darling". I burned even hotter now and shot him A Look. He held my gaze, secure in the knowledge that his loose change could easily cover my paltry shopping bill. Of course, cold hard cash. I dropped my bag and rummaged round in my purse and came up with the grand total of £12 and most of that in pound coins. "What I always do is, disguise my PIN as a phone number and put it in my mobile under a fake name". This stunning piece of information was given to me by the woman directly behind me in the queue.
"Yes, I do that" I said through clenched teeth. "I can't remember my PIN, well PINs." I added to Dulwich Daddy who had lost interest and was now intently reading the label on his free range vegetarian pasta. "So, get your phone out and everything will be okay!" Woman Directly Behind Me gazed round to the listening throng as if she deserved a medal for stating the bleeding obvious. "My. Phone. Is. At. Home" I hissed. CWELN had now been joined by a twelve year old supervisor.
The decision had been made: Customer Services would hold my shopping whilst I went home to collect my PIN number from my mobile phone. CEWLN was already throwing items belonging to the Woman Directly Behind Me down the conveyor belt. It was then that I saw her. My saviour. My sister. Bea was hovering uncertainly in the shower gel aisle and I heard her ask a passing member of staff in her plummy tones if they had any "original Imperial Leather shower gel? My au pair hasn't showered for a week now".
"BEA!" I bellowed, making the supervisor who was heaving my trolley down to Customer Services jump five feet into the air. "Darling!" she shrieked back, pushing through the hordes of shoppers and air kissing me on both sides of my face. I explained my predicament and she proceeded to shower me with credit cards. The supervisor looked alarmed at this and began the retreat back to the original till. Bea and I followed. The supervisor waylaid another of her colleagues (this one looked barely out of nappies) and it was decided that we should proceed to Customer Services to do the dirty deed. "You can pay me back any time" Bea was now saying airily as we beetled along behind the checkouts. "I'm sorry about this" I grovelled to the supervisor and the Customer Services man. "It needs to be run frew agin" Customer Services pointed out. Back we went to a till, Bea lurching along behind me still waving her plastic. My shopping was emptied out of the bags and re-scanned whilst my beloved sister ran backwards and forwards chucking random items onto the pile. "For Stephen" she said as she threw a packet of wine gums in my last bag. The cashier who had been given the unenviable task of re-scanning my shopping was looking from me to Bea as she beeped my items. "Could this day get any more random?" I asked no-one in particular. Bea fixed me with her baby blues.
"Well, funny you should say that darling, I was only here right at this minute because my acupuncturist fell off a mountain in Wales and can't stand upright let alone stick needles in my cranium and On The Point of Emaciation Now Au Pair has developed an allergy to everything you could possibly wash with apart from Imperial Leather and we haven't a drop in the house"
What was I saying? Of course it could.