Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Post Where I Might Swear ... Waitrose


BBC4 has been running quite a few documentaries that cover Byzantine Italy, and most of them have included images of the mosaics in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna.

This one depicts the Last Supper, and it's interesting as it was commissioned by the 6th century Arian Goths rather than the Orthodox Byzantines. It's one of the earliest depictions of the Last Supper, and shows everyone reclining - although since this was a Passover seder before the destruction of the Temple, the fish was probably lamb.

I've never been to an Orthodox seder, but even today at the more Reform ones we still have a child ask the Four Questions (Ma Nishtana), the last of which is:

"Why on all other nights, do we eat either sitting or reclining, but tonight we only recline?"

The answer is that it is the celebrate that we are free, since reclining at the table was how the free ate, as opposed to slaves who sat. I'm not sure when the Romans and Byzantines stopped reclining at table - the circa AD 1100 manuscript below, now in Sant'Angelo in Formis (Capua), is anachronistic - but it's something I always wonder about when I sit at a seder.


After the fourth glass of wine at the seder we also anachronistically say "Next year Jerusalem!" - even though we could of course go there next year, for some reason we never do. The Christian Eucharist includes wine, to signify the blood of Jesus Christ and the wine drunk at the Last Supper. In Judaism we drink four glasses of wine at Passover - I try to make them very small glasses, as this is one of the few times I drink.

You might be wondering why I'm discussing Passover the week after Hanukkah, and the answer is Waitrose.

Last Wednesday I slipped on some green gunk in the King's Road branch of Waitrose, a supermarket. I fell, and some customers kindly helped me because not a single member of staff could be bothered to help me. I think one even said under her breath something along the lines of "have another drink" - Waitrose deny this, but I later bumped into the customer who'd helped me up, and he thought he'd heard the same thing. If the member of staff did say this, it's upsetting but irrelevant.

The bigger issue is that I was quite badly injured, and Waitrose, even after I fell, didn't bother to put up a warning sign as required by law.

I've now spent over a week mostly reclining on my side, like the Apostles at the Last Supper, because it still hurts to sit (I couldn't even sit at all until Saturday, so I missed several Hanukkah dinners). I can stand and walk - in fact that's what I was told to do to break up the clots at the Lister. Despite anti-inflamatories and two types of painkillers and sleeping pills, I'm not sleeping well because if I roll over it hurts like hell. (Don't worry, I'm not going to post a photo of the huge black swelling)

I rarely use the King's Road branch, but I've been getting fed up with Waitrose - the Knightsbridge branch delivered my groceries to the wrong person, the Marylebone Branch accused me of shop-lifting (I was able to show a receipt to prove I had paid for every single item I'd used the self-service scanner on), but this is the final straw.

I'm normally very English, and take the attitude that accidents happen, but this time I made a fuss and complained.

A week later the f-ing idiots at f-ing Waitrose - ie Martin Walters - wrote to me saying that they are "very sorry for the inconvenience" and that they normally "send a bouquet of flowers" but that instead they "enclose a voucher in the sun of £25 as a gesture of goodwill" !!!!!

£25 doesn't even cover the cost of the pills I've had to buy to be able to try to cope with the physical pain they've caused me.

People often complain that Americans are too litigious, but this concept of legislation by litigation is based on the Romans - see Cicero and all the Republican politicians who used the law courts to advance policies and make a name for themselves.

I've been reluctant to sue Waitrose, partly because it feels too American, partly because I admire the way they run the company with "partners" who participate making it essentially a form of co-op - it always strikes me as ironic when groups protesting against tax-avoiding companies smash the windows of John Lewis, part of the same group. I thought instead I'd give them the opportunity to sort this out, and told my father that I would rather accept a reasonable offer, even in the form of vouchers.

***** you Waitrose. £25 is more insulting than nothing. John Lewis has lost a good customer and any reluctance to sue I might have had is truly gone. And my holiday food shopping is going to be done at Marks and Spencer.

Update - I've been reminded to add that this was not the only injury, for example my hand suffered too. Not forgetting my torn skirt and lovely Emma Hope boots which are RIP.

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