It's September 1979. My niece, Kirsty, is coming up for four and knows exactly what she wants for her birthday. A shopping bag on wheels. Like Nanny has. It has to have 2 wheels at the back and it has to have a cover that comes right up over the top to make a lid. And it has to have plenty of room in it to put all the kind of shopping that a four year old needs to buy.
Aunty Deb sets off to the shops with one aim in mind. To locate that toy trolley and buy it. 1979 Britain does not have Toys r Us. It doesn't have Early Learning Centre. It doesn't have internet shopping. Tracking down a shopping trolley demands much walking around and searching. If I'd chosen the easier option of a Barbie doll there would have been no problem. I tried Woolworths, Debenhams and the toy section of a smaller department store. Nothing. I went off the main shopping trail and ended up on the outskirts of town where there was a really old fashioned toy shop. It was musty and dusty and the shelves were full to overflowing so that you were scared to look round too much in case you knocked something over and an avalanche would begin. Still no sign of the shopping bag. When the shopkeeper asked if he could help, I sighed and said 'I don't suppose you have a toy shopping bag on wheels do you?' and he sighed and gave me a thoughtful look. 'I think I might have one, not on the shop floor but in the stock room' and off he went. He was gone some time.
But when he returned he had just the thing I had been searching for, it was even the same colour as Nanny's. I think he was surprised by how happy I was, clearly this had been in the stock room for some time and he must have thought he would never sell it! I carried it back to the car, put it on the back seat and happily returned home. Took it out of the car, and left it in the hallway while I went to have my dinner. After dinner I went to go upstairs to get ready to go out and noticed the bag had been knocked over and the dog was playing with something in the hallway. Something, small. Something furry. Something that was squeaking.
It would appear that I had inadvertently been given a free gift with the bag, and that a little mouse had stowed away inside it. Can you imagine what would have happened if that little creature had escaped in the inside of my car? I still get shivers when I try to imagine what I would have done if I had suddenly had a mouse crawl over me while driving! Moral to this story. Always put your shopping in the boot - just in case!