Making new friends at the checkout

Queuing is the great leveller – it brings you face to face with the world. Yesterday I found myself in line for the self-service checkouts at Tesco on Royal Avenue, Belfast. A sullen-faced woman was attempting to scan her Mail on Sunday, but without success, so she was performing a kind of low-velocity swordfight with the scanner.

In front of me was a guy in his mid-20s with cropped hair, a dirty hoodie and a pair of jeans, soaked from the knee to the cuffs. He was carrying a two-litre bottle of cider. At one point he turned to look at me and revealed an angry-looking cut across the bridge of his nose, a fat lip and a huge black eye.

He gave me one of the most hate-filled, savage looks I’ve ever received - and turned back to wait his turn for the next scanner.

And I stood there, with my little handful… ginger, some medium-hot chillies and a bunch of coriander. For a Guardian recipe I wanted to try by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so middle class.