Diary. Saturday 16th December 1989

I’m working the Christmas tills at ASDA, Old Mill Lane, Barnsley. Contracted to thirteen hours a week I’ve done fourteen point three five. Net pay £32.02. After Margaret Thatcher has taken her slice that means I’ve been grafting away for £2.23 an hour. Ding dong merrily on high. I do the early evening shift, ten minute bus ride from the Four Lane Ends in Mapplewell. It’s dark and snowing. Santa Claus has got pissed in the grotto and been carried out unconscious by two blokes from the warehouse. A sign hanging over the sleigh announcing an emergency trip to Greenland re some ‘Ninja Turtle’ figures. The brass band in the foyer is playing ‘Silent night’ and I’m wondering how much these odd looking vegetables are per pound.

I’m here for beer money, plain and simple. Still towing away at my A-levels split between Darton High School (English Literature and Economics) and Barnsley Technical College (Biology). What am I going to do with these when I get them? Earn a fortune writing a novel about the nutrition system of a Giant Redwood?

Andrew Guest, my mate from the Tech, is working the cooked meats. Stacking shelves. I’m being chatted up by some older woman with a sun bed tan from Monk Bretton who supervises the checkouts. Black hair, work smock buttoned temptingly low. She insists on resting a manicured hand with bright red talons on my thigh as she goes through the cash drop box routine and instructs me on the electronic scales with a couple of ripe melons. Carol, can you just talk me through that one more time…? Another, more matronly woman, sits at the other side of me.

A green clip on tie and green smock have been supplied by ASDA. A white shirt (my own from Burton’s) completes the corporate ensemble. My hair in curtains. Big earring. Madchester and the baggy look. Big black leather shoes that fasten with a buckle and some bleached jeans.

What have I learned? Always to arrange my notes with the Queen facing the same direction. And did you know that ASDA stands for Associated Dairies?

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