Trolley life

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Indy Lifestyle Online
My 15-year-old daughter doesn't speak much these days. At least not to me. At first I found this worrying. "You can always talk to me," I would say as she drifted by. Then one day she spoke. "I think you might have overdone the eye make-up, Mum," she said. I thanked her for caring enough to share. Next she commented on the Ansafone. "There's a message for you. It's so gush it makes me sick." A few days later, she looked up and said: "That outfit makes you look like that politician's wife. You know. Christine Hamilton." I took a deep breath and decided it wasn't necessary to talk to children at every stage of their development.

Then the other day, as we unpacked groceries, she spoke again. "Ravioli! Great! Did you buy this?" she asked, holding up a tin that I obviously had bought. "Do you know what it is? People buy it instead of spaghetti." I nodded. Could she really think I didn't know about ravioli? By now she was almost chattering. "Did you see Assassin the other night? Bridget Fonda bought 14 cans of ravioli."

I found this rather impressive. Assassin is the US remake of Nikita and, though it has its failings, the ravioli scene is terrific. In the film, a young female (Bridget Fonda) is hired by the government to kill. After months of training, she is let out into the real world, or what passes for it in California. The first thing she does is to go to the supermarket and, clearly confused, follows another woman around, buying everything she does but in huge quantities. Thus the 14 tins of ravioli, the eight loaves of bread and enough melons to satisfy any amount of Parma ham.

The meaning of this - or the semiotics, as film people say - was crystal clear: only dysfunctional people buy in bulk, and only assassins buy ravioli in bulk. I tested the theory at the supermarket. It didn't take long to realise that few people buy one when two (or more) will do. I mean who needs three bottles of Martini, five boxes of man-size tissues, four containers of Bisto, 24 eggs, 10 packs of Rolos? Everyone was dysfunctional, obviously. Now for the assassins. I posted myself beside the ravioli and waited. And waited. No one made my day. I retreated (with tin).

I was explaining this to the 15-year-old when I suddenly became suspicious that the whole ravioli thing had been product placement. No, she said, the only product placement in the film had been for Pepsi. "Don't you remember? They were in that hotel and she ordered four Pepsis and told room service she always got thirsty after sex." She laughed. I tried to join in. This talking thing has got to stop.

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