Obviously nobody told spray-tanned Scottish football rodent Alan Hansen that the recession is over, because Morrisons have just reported a 45% increase in half year profits. That’s a lot of own-brand fry ups in a can.
So, just how does a supermarket whose greatest contribution to fine dining began and ended with Morrinov vodka – presumably made by Mr Morrison’s long lost Russian cousin Vladimir Morrinov – pull off such a financial boom?
Well, probably by being the supermarket from the Twilight Zone.
As a student I often found myself wandering around Morrisons in a sort of surreal daze as people with face-sized purple birth marks picked out frozen pizzas and track-suited men wept over the canned vegetables. As it was the closest place selling food to my work, I was often caught in the queue to buy my lunch behind a man who smelt of piss and cheese, who each day bought five cheese and onion pasties, paid for separately as different transactions, each to be carefully placed in their own plastic bag. The whole thing would take nearly seven minutes, by which time the smell of ammonia had almost stripped off my eyebrows.
I also once came across a man in a shiny nylon suit, lying on his stomach, shouting down a little grill in the floor. Fuck knows what was down there. Probably the staff room.
So, I asked around to see what other shopping fun Morrisons had offered. One friend, who did his MA in Leeds claims to have watched “an old woman piss herself, gently shake one foot to get the last drops off and then carry on with her shopping.” He also remembers fondly a woman screaming to her small blonde daughter “Come here Beyonce!” across the stationary aisle.
There are also several reports of mice, mice poo and chewed holes in cereal packets. One woman even claimed to have seen “a rat with what looked like a biscuit in its gob in the one on Holloway Road. In the household products isle. ” And, of course, at least four women I know have ended up crying in various sections of their local Morrisons over broken relationships, long term depression or chronic comedowns.
However, Morrisons has also been the home of some glorious moments.
My friend Jim’s best Morrisons moment? “When a large man stood next to the pie counter yelled across the store to his wife ‘Ere Barb, do we need any pies or owt?’ I still shout it if I see someone I know.”
Meanwhile, a friend John had the great fortune of working in the Wakefield Morrisons for six months. In the booze aisle. Apparently, his friend from the ‘cheese section’ had sex with 98% of the Morrisons work force, while all poor John had to look forward to was the joyful sound of the Postman Pat ride as semi-alcoholic parents stocked up on apocalyptic quantities of cider.
There have also been £2 scratch cards, ludicrously generous giveaways on Robinson’s Fruit and Barley, as well as the odd bearded lady and a life sized cutout of the rodent pundit himself, Alan Hansen.
When asked to comment on the recession-busting profits of Morrisons this year, the Chief Executive Mark Bolland simply said, “What we have done is build a type of store that simply does not exist elsewhere in the country.” Mark, I couldn’t agree more.