Comparing the prices

Approaching the breakfast cereals in Tesco on Thursday, I saw a smartly dressed elderly gentleman standing by the Bran Flakes apparently in some sort of crisis. So I turned about and went to buy some Yorkshire Tea instead.

When I returned, the elderly gentleman was still there, gazing into the Bran Flakes. So I sneaked round the side of him and removed a packet from the shelf.

"DON'T BUY THOSE!" he exclaimed, triumphantly. I froze. "Look! You can buy two 500g packets for the same price as a 750g packet!"

In the background, I saw an elderly lady with a shopping trolley shake her head in exasperation and walk away. I presumed she must be his wife.

I pushed the 750g packet of Bran Flakes back on to the shelf and picked up two 500g packets instead. "Thank you," I said.

"People don't look, you see," said the elderly man. "You need to check these things out. Compare the prices!"

I didn't point out that I usually do check these things out, and that I usually do compare the prices, but, on this particular occasion, a well-dressed elderly gentleman happened to be standing in front of them.

"You're not thinking of buying vinegar, by any chance, are you?" the elderly gentleman asked. I confirmed that I indeed wasn't. "Only you can get two half-size bottles for less than the price of a full-size bottle. It's crazy!"

"Crazy," I agreed.

"I wrote them a letter."

"…And, when you've finished, you end up with two bottles instead of one!" I observed, entering into the spirit of things.

"Yes!" said the elderly gentleman. "Not that that's much good these days. You can't take them back any more. They used to give you money back for your old pop bottles, you know. But you'll be too young to remember that."

I informed the elderly gentleman that, au contraire, I did indeed remember taking pop bottles back.

"We used to get a ha'penny each for them!" he said.

"I think we used to get 10p," I replied.

"Ten pee!" exclaimed the elderly gentleman in astonishment, apparently having worked out how I managed to have the wherewithall to be able to fritter away good money on 750g packets on Bran Flakes.

I thanked the elderly gentleman for his help, bade him farewell, and, as I headed towards the frozen fish, thought to myself, That's me in twenty years, that is.

Or ten, more likely.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. It sounds as though you've met my father - with genes like those how do you think I feel about my future?

  2. Imagine my dilemma when I went to by a large bottle of gin recently only to notice, as in your examples, that the per litre price was better for a smaller bottle. But, and this is the real confounder, they had plenty of big bottles but only one of the small ones! Sophie had it easy.

    It just occurred to me that the reason they only had one small bottle left was precisely because people had been comparing the prices.

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