Service is the basic form of communication. As children we are taught to serve. Everything from ladies first to putting yourself last in a list. But this has changed. Now we have to queue up in the rain for the privilege of getting our own money from a hole in a wall, and we are told that service has never been better. We squeeze into our local Tesco, fight our way around, queue for half an hour and when we get home much the worse for wear, we read the story that they have just won an award for service excellence.
We are gullible. We believe what we are told, despite the evidence of our own experience. People complain about the gullibility of the religious, but I, for one, would much rather believe in God, than the modern deity, Tesco.
We have made Gods of our buying. The Holy Ghost has become The Wholemeal Toast. The Son of Man, a Pound of Ham. The Holy Trinity’s three persons in one has been out-done by Two for One, Four for a Fiver. Just taste the value!
The divine Tesco doesn’t give a damn for me but rather likes my money. I feel it would be preferable to have a deity that didn’t give a damn for my money, but rather liked me. And I would rather worship in a Cathedral than the modern equivalent – today’s out-of-town hypermarket. These are buildings so vast that Zeppelins would be lost in them.
“Zeppelins? Aisle 390, sir. Watch out for our special on all dirigibles.”
Assistants move like cowled monks among the deep freeze units. Endless queues forming at the few operating checkouts, the confessionals de nos jours, which calculate, enumerate, and measure the cost of our digested sins. We shuffle forward reading the litanies on our packets: ‘…of which sugars, 3.5 grams. emulsifiers, E470, salt, water. Amen.’
And so it was with triumph that I walked away from Tesco Metropolitan Cathedral, New Malden, the other day having spotted an error in their pricing. Four bottles of superb (and usually very expensive) Rioja for £5. I snaffled them and headed for the checkout, where, after I had waited 25 minutes for service, I had the privilege of paying.
I conveyed my wine safely home, but, after the minor frisson of triumph had passed, I felt unclean for I had worshipped at the altar of a God in which I didn’t believe.
I can, however, report that he does produce some excellent Rioja.