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It must’ve started sometime during The Long Year (and a half) that I spent at The Mom’s after my PhD. Now, lest I appear an ungrateful wretch, let me add that the year was very long because I was in the midst of the worst Crohn’s flare I’ve ever had. On the scale of Crohn’s flares it wasn’t that bad – I only lost 10lbs and didn’t have a surgery. But, suffice it to say, I felt pretty rough and didn’t go out much.

We had the internet but I craved the excitement of going out in the world and finding new and interesting things. For some reason that I don’t quite understand, I find grocery stores fascinating. I can lose hours happily wandering around the Supercentre, investigating whatever new (or old) items they have that I’ve never seen before. This is fairly easy to do, as I spent much of my childhood in health food stores – the biscuit and confectionary aisle is particularly interesting.

Anyhow, with the local paper, The Mom gets this huge stack of flyers that I refer to as The Coupons for no reason whatsoever. When I wasn’t in the bathroom, I took great joy in reading these flyers. Because it was like going to the supermarket without having to worry about what I’d do if I had to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I’d feel well enough to actually go out, but even then, the trip would usually end with The Mom hovering around the bathroom door, asking if I was okay every few minutes.

The Coupons thus took pride of place in my week.

At first, I just liked looking at the pictures. It’s a weird job, I thought, to be the person who dresses up the raw meat. Or, who is the person who writes this copy? Do they actually interview the farmers? Or is that made up too?

I particularly enjoy the names of things – the adjectives people use to describe what is essentially the same as everything else.

I also love to imagine who buys these sorts of strange things I see, or imagining uses for things like, oh, I dunno, a roll of frozen squid. What is that the answer to? When do you wake up and go, OMG, the only thing we could possibly do is get a roll of frozen squid!

After a while though, it started to be the same things advertised in every flyer. As I couldn’t afford to lose this brief and unusual bit of contact with the outside world, I had to find something else to keep my interest.

So I started trying to find The Mom good deals. The problem here is that I was used to what things cost in the UK, and even then, I’m pretty spacey in the supermarket when I’m actually shopping, and I don’t really know what things reasonably cost. If it should be cheap, it costs a fiver. Bit more expensive, a tenner. If it’s expensive, a hundred quid. A lot of range there I think you’ll find.

I wasn’t terribly good  at finding The Mom deals, but now and again we found some great ones. I nearly convinced her to buy a whole salmon once, which would’ve taken she and I over two months to eat.

So this year, when The Coupons hadn’t arrived and I’d been there for nearly three weeks, I was getting a bit anxious. As was The Mom. She likes to humour my need to endlessly repeat the same few actions each time I come home.

But! Before things took a turn, on my nearly last day, The Coupons arrived. One of the best things I read on holiday.