ASDA had deserted the deep-sea themed shopping centre on the outskirts of town, as had the giant aquarium retailer. The enormous concrete sculptures of marine creatures now looked rather forlorn in the neglected flower beds.
Sainsbury’s moved to the site to capitalise on the low rent and a local population desperate to shop. The supermarket chain, however, failed to invest in staff, and there were always huge queues at the check-outs. All customers were on high alert for the possible opening of a second till. Whenever this happened there was a near riot as everyone jostled to reach it first.
On this visit to the shop with TPR, I lost a mother of pearl snail shell in the rush to reach the second till. Not long afterwards, however, a young man approached me with my prized possession. He also offered me a brown highly polished stone on a plinth. At first I rejected it, but when he pointed out that it was an award and my name was etched into the marble, I changed my mind.
At a table I discussed my award with the young man and Sir Mark Walport. Everyone around us was very impressed that we were able to converse freely in French.