I am an expert on supermarkets. Chaperoning the Duchess has given me a whole new set of skills.
Morrison's is the favourite but too far away for regular visits. Sainsbury's is too cold. Upsets her chest. She's right; the whole store is like a fridge. Tesco's is too vast and too busy, too overwhelming. Waitrose have the best trolleys but the green and grey colours are gloomy. M&S don't have enough disabled parking bays near the front door. Aldi is like shopping in a foreign country - unfamiliar brands. It is the little things.
Note there is no comment on choice, range, quality or even price. These things are a given. It's the little things that do, or don't make the difference.
Despite the cold, we do go to Sainsbury's now and then because it has a Starbucks. I hate Starbucks with a vengeance. The sticky tables, the clunking bish-bash-bosh of the Baristas, the queues, not to mention the prices. The Duchess can't lift the Starbucks's version of even a small mug so they remember and make her flat-white in a 'half-cup and saucer'. It's the little things.
On a recent shopping foray we bumped into one of the Duchess's mates. Their combined vintage would have been beyond even the experts on the Antiques Road Show and a top score in darts, plus! Yvonne is a mirror image of Mum. Both their backs stooped to the same precarious angle, the same tissue paper skin and the same sparrow bones. Both fragile as porcelain. Both sharp as razors.
The recent spell of hot weather had done for Yvonne. She was blue-lit all the way to A&E and onto a ward.
I cringed, crossed my fingers and said a silent prayer to the gods of healthcare that this wasn't going to turn into another one of those; 'I couldn't reach the pull-cord, I couldn't eat the food, I didn't get a drink, or a bath or the pills on time'.
I looked the other way, pretended to be distracted by the offer on the Kellogg's special K... did you know they've made 'minor changes' to the recipe? Oooh, it's the little things! Customers hate it and now there is a petition to bring the old flavours back?
Anyway, Yvonne was still going on. 'How busy it was, how the nurses don't get a moment's peace'. I steeled myself. Here it comes. Something horrible happened, it must have.
'They were all so kind. Everyone was so kind', she said... with that she bade farewell and disappeared into the chocolate biscuit canyon.
I'm ashamed to admit I expected the worst. Ain't it good when the NHS works? I have no reason to feel proud, I'm just a bystander. But for that moment I admit it, I was proud.
No mention of the technology, the skills, the drugs, the investment. Just the kindness. Kindness creates confidence and we must try and create the kind of places where kind people want to work.
A smile is yours to give, a moment of your time will never be replaced and an act of kindness can never come too soon.
It's the little things.
Have a good weekend.