Empty shopping trolley syndrome

I return from grocery shopping with a ten pack of small green bottles of French lager. Phil diagnoses this as the start of a mid-life crisis. It shows just how dull my day-to-day activities are that buying beer is some sort of a red flag indicating psychological turmoil.

I would diagnose it as being cheap. They were only a couple of quid. I’d manoeuvred a large shopping trolley all the way around the supermarket and it wasn’t even half full by the time I’d reached the booze aisle.

Normally I’d breeze past the alcohol shelves as indifferently as the cold meats. I am not much of a drinker. The occasional beer in my case case means maybe one glass a month. Wine tastes like vinegar to me. Unless it’s very sweet. Either I am just not that interested in drinking or am I so tightly wound that I can not lose control. For. One. Second.

Anyway, the multi-pack of low grade ethanol was lowered into the trolley. I suppose it was a small acknowledgment of the fact that things would be a little different now.

The symptoms of empty nest syndrome include grief, depression and a loss of purpose. Nowhere in the literature is there mention of the half-empty shopping trolley. I had picked up and put back many items I would have bought for our daughter but won’t now need for the time being. Going to the supermarket without my reading glasses and buying food items unsuitable for vegetarians has been one of my long-standing hobbies. If I unpack the bags in the kitchen and don’t find a dessert with gelatine in then I am disappointed all week.

The next time our daughter comes home there will be nothing for her to eat. There will be a lot of budget alcohol to drink. Being a student I don’t suppose that will make her unhappy.

There is less all around. Fewer clothes in the laundry, fewer plates in the dishwasher, fewer drop offs and pick ups, fewer bottles of ethically produced products to knock off the edge of the bath. These gaps are small but numerous. I will have to find activities to fill them. The question is what? Lego, road cycling, video games, bread making, exotic orchids? The box set of The Wire I’ve had in the cupboard since 2013? A cat?

None of them appeal although I must set aside the time to catch up with The Wire while it is still a cultural reference point. I love David Simon and Ed Burns’ other work but I am out of the habit of watching TV drama. My internet-addled attention span might need to work up to it.

What I am doing is ordering more secondhand books. Again, not a symptom mentioned online. You will not find me tearful after a bottle of wine in the evenings. I will be squinting in the blue glow of the laptop weighing up if the paperback I am after is a ‘Good’ copy or only ‘Acceptable’. The difference in price will be a matter of pennies but it’s the principle of the thing.

Dogeared paperbacks continue to be forced through the letterbox. I have purchased several Georges Simenon in French. Long after our daughter has graduated university those original language Simenon’s will be sitting on the bedside table unread.

If I’m not yet taking up new interests I can continue to pursue old ones I have failed at many times before.

The Book Tour is coming mid November and this is what the English version looks like in the flesh. Check out the review from Publishers Weekly. The Polish version from Marginesy is out today.

Watson neatly balances moody atmosphere and light comedy, salting his narrative with outré details

Ear worms are the subject of Thursday’s story at my Patreon. But which 90s college rock ditty can’t I get out of my head?

Dumped is back in a neat hardback format in colour. Orders are signed and sketched.

Take care,


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