The frisson of a Big Tesco at 6PM on a Saturday night. Everyone is here: mums doing their monthly big shop, mums doing their interim weekly big shop, lads in leather jackets holding beer crates like they are cradling a baby, kids in light-up trainers leaning on the trolley to scoot, a near-feral crowd near the reduced section as the nervous boy who works there does the ticketing, a healthy-looking sexless couple in their mid-twenties wearing large scarves and round-lens prescription glasses, staring infinitely into the wholewheat pittas. And here is you, getting snacks for your Saturday Night In, buying with a wild abandon beyond the possibility of a budget, because even if you go absolutely insane in Tesco – absolutely, out-of-control, just insane and deranged – you’re not going to spend more than about £30, are you, which is approximately one-and-one-fifth round at whatever bar you were supposed to go to tonight but cancelled on because you didn’t fancy it. You are wearing pyjamas bottoms and a large coat. Your hair has not been washed.
See: chocolate-coated preztels and supermarket-brand fizzy strings. See: an entire tub of ice cream and for some reason a whole box of children’s cereal. You have bought Müller Crunch Corner yoghurts, and even though you only really fancied one yoghurt (banana yoghurt w/ chocolate cornflake crunch) you have bought two six-packs of various flavours because they were on a multi-buy deal for £3. A family-sized shrink-wrapped platter of deli meats. Frijj milkshakes. A pack of Cheesestrings that says "Lunchbox Size!" on it, but these Cheesestrings are going to be eaten, raw, in front of the television, far from the stale interior of a lunchbox. A Whole Thing Of Full Fat Coke. Tangfastics but also Star Mix. Chocolate-coated raisins that you wheeled your trolley back to the chocolate-coated pretzel aisle to get (later, you will combine the two packets in a large bowl). Microwaveable popcorn, buttered as well as sweet. Pre-popped popcorn, toffee flavour (one packet). Doritos, but also chipsticks. You are going to pretend you are going to eat that jar of peppadew peppers, but you are not: you are going to eat two more Müller yoghurts instead. You have bought a loaf of tiger bread the size of a sleeping child. A Milkybar the size of a radiator.
These are only your snacks, because a curry is on the way. The heating is on and you have special soft socks you wear around the house on cosy nights in. The snacks, you will arrange on clean plates and in bowls in your immaculate front room. The curry you will eat off a special grey tray with a jar of mango chutney from the fridge as a side (you do not believe in paying for mango chutney – in a miserable little pot! – with your takeaway order; you keep your own mango chutney, and portion it out accordingly). You are watching the tail end of an episode of You’ve Been Framed while waiting for some Saturday night prestige TV to come on: X Factor, maybe, or Saturday Night Takeaway, or something with Vernon Kay.
“Isn’t it curious,” you say, to nobody, through a mouthful of poppadum, “that we elevated someone to such heights of fame who has the name ‘Vernon’.” You’re googling Vernon Kay now, on your phone: you are remembering his affair. You have rented a blockbuster you neglected to see at the cinema last year, but it still feels new enough for it to be a treat. You are half-watching it while other people, out there, have fun.
“Ah,” you say, settling into bed, 8,000 calories and the entirety of War for the Planet of the Apes later. “That was a good night.” You close your eyes and the whispering starts: how many nights of your twenties do you have left?, the whisper asks. How many nights can you spend like this, in stasis. You deserved a night in, you tell the whisper. You’ve been working very hard. You’re not in the right space to be sociable. You Needed This. That’s what you said last weekend, the whisper says. What happened the weekend before? You went home the weekend before. Plans fell through. You were meant to go out with old friends but they all cancelled. You watched Blade Runner 2049 with your mum, the whisper reminds you. Yeah, but— you liked it— that’s not the point. One day this will be every Saturday night for you, and clubbing and leaving the house and seeing your friends will be a distant memory, and you will look back on this moment and thrash yourself in despair, the whisper says, for wasting even one precious second of your youth eating a big thing of Fruit & Nut and scrolling all the way to the bottom of Caroline Flack’s Instagram. Listen, the— you’re wasting your lifffffffe, the whisper hisses, as your clock clicks round to 3AM. Every second you spend like this is a second you will wish to claw back when you are dead. Night night.
YOU HAVE LOST SATURDAY NIGHT