The One Where I Start a Riot at Morrisons

Hello, friends. Before we embark together on our journey today, I just want to make two things clear:

  1. First, what follows was totally, completely not my fault.
  2. Second, honest, it wasn’t really my fault.

That established, I’ll give you the happy news: we’ve adopted two kittens from the local cat rescue, and we’re collecting them today. I KNOW! Much excitement in the Whittle household.

So yesterday, off we went to the local Pet superstore, to buy a litter tray (ugh), and a cat bed and some little toys, and food bowls, and collars and – well, it all adds up, doesn’t it?

The car well and truly stuffed, we decided to nip to Morrisons for cat food. We walked into the supermarket and Flea announced she was starving, so I said we’d buy a sandwich in the café.

Simple, right? 

So, ten minutes later, we’re munching away, when over Flea’s shoulder I spot a couple with a little boy, only a year or so younger than Flea. The kid was climbing on the table, standing on his chair and, honestly, just being annoying.

As I’m watching, the kid leans over his Dad’s shoulder and starts playing with the fire alarm on the wall. You know those ‘break glass in case of emergency’ things. The Dad notices, and chuckles fondly. As you do. *rolls eyes*

“If you ever did that, you’d know about it,” I mutter to Flea. Don’t ask me what it means. I’ve no clue. Anyway…

Ten seconds later, the kid achieves his goal, and sets off the fire alarm. Staff and security guards look worried. Eventually someone realises which alarm has gone off, and half a dozen people head in our direction.

Now, if it was me, I’d have jumped up and explained to someone that it was an accident, I’ve had asked my child to apologise. But the Mum and Dad just continued chuckling, and Didn’t Say A Word.

They continued Not Saying a Word as the alarm went from quiet mode to full on INCREDIBLY LOUD siren mode. They also Didn’t Say A Word as the entire supermarket was evacuated – including all the staff, a party of adults with learning disabilities and a number of elderly people with sticks and in wheelchairs.

And then it all went a bit pear-shaped… 

Outside in the car park, Fire Alarm Family was standing a few feet away from me, the Mum and Dad both chuckling fondly, ruffling their son’s hair.

At this point, I might possibly have said to Flea in my special “loud parent” voice (we’ve all got one) – “You know what, I think that little boy should be apologising. Look at all these people who aren’t able to eat their food or do their shopping!”

“Yes,” Flea agreed, in an even louder voice. “Is it THAT little boy there in the Superman t-shirt who set off the fire alarm, Mummy?”

And then she pointed.

Well, you could have heard a pin drop.

First off, the store manager started shouting at Fire Alarm Dad, saying it wasn’t very HELPFUL to let your kids set off the fire alarm.

When the family still didn’t apologise, the pensioners started muttering. A mum with two small boys pointed out that you shouldn’t have kids if you can’t control them, you know. Word started to spread through the crowd. The muttering got louder.

Fire Alarm Mum decided now was the moment to leave, and took the little boy off to the car. The man started to follow, but was accosted by another man, who shouted at him about how you shouldn’t have kids if you don’t know how to behave.

Fire Alarm Mum pulled up and rolled down the car window. “Gett-in!” she yelled. “I haven’t got the effin’ shoppin,” replied Fire Alarm Dad.

By this time, word had spread through most of the crowd, and it was all getting a bit threatening. Especially if you find old people with sticks and those pull-along shopping baskets on wheels threatening.

You might snicker, but one elderly gent was shouting the odds, and some of the store’s café staff were standing in front of the Fire Alarm Family’s car, to stop them driving off. Someone kicked the car.

“Oooh, did you hear, that little boy set off the alarm, and they just let him do it?”

“Never, did he really?”

“It’s not right, is it?”

“Was it them?”

“Yes, that lady saw the whole thing.”

I saw the now purple-faced Dad glance in my direction. He didn’t seem like he wanted to have a nice chat about it. To say the least.

So I did what any sensible person would do under the circumstances.

I immediately glanced behind me, thereby cunningly suggesting that “that woman” was the pensioner behind me with the shopping basket on wheels. And then I grabbed Flea’s hand, and we made a run for the car.

We are going to have to find a new supermarket, I fear.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. Kelly Wiffin
    29th June 2012 / 7:29 am

    What were they doing not telling the staff? I think I would do what you did. Didn’t they realise the chaos they caused? It seems like they didn’t really care!

    I hope you got all that you needed and hope your kittens settle in well x

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:48 pm

      I know – I was PROPERLY outraged. I’d have adjusted my bosom, Les Dennis style, if I’d thought of it.

  2. Becky (lakes single mum)
    29th June 2012 / 7:27 am

    Ooh ground open up and swallow me moment! I blame the other parents for letting him do it and not telling. You were just teaching Flea manners!

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:47 pm

      Yes. That’s right. Manners. That’s good, right?

  3. Natasha - Little Creative Days
    29th June 2012 / 9:32 am

    Fantastic story. I think you did the right thing you were only teaching your child right from wrong. Shame the other parents didn’t do the same.

    Btw Flea sounds like such a great kid.

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:49 pm

      Thanks, she is!

  4. 29th June 2012 / 8:37 am

    Of course you did the right thing. Kittens are lovely and you will be happy with them forever 😉

    Oh you mean Morrisons? Yes, you did the right thing. So maybe the crowd were slightly excessive in their lynching attempt but stop me from eating my food and buying my food and I may possibly get a bit kicky too.

    Hopefully they have learnt a lesson. Although lets face it, they probably haven’t.
    BigFashionista recently posted..Favourite blog postsMy Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:48 pm

      Kittens ARE lovely. And yes – nobody should come between Flea and a ham sandwich.

  5. 29th June 2012 / 8:44 am

    Well done you, the way some people behave in supermarkets really is disgraceful. As a former Tesco employee I could write a whole blog post here about it. I really don’t mind if your child smashes a bottle or wees on the floor, but please tell a member of staff before someone slips in it.

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:48 pm

      Quite – it’s as much about what it says to your child as anything!

  6. FeeHorne
    29th June 2012 / 9:09 am

    Good. For. Flea. I’m so impressed. I’d like to think that, under the same circumstances, as a proper grown-up ?!!), I’d have had a quiet word with the supermarket manager, or maybe taken a sneaky photo and broadcast it to the local paper, but actually, I think Flea’s response was much much better!!

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:49 pm

      Well with hindsight, I might perhaps have been a TEENY bit more subtle…

  7. Nikki
    29th June 2012 / 9:17 am

    I have that loud parenting voice too and boy has it got me into trouble too. It’s when others don’t meet my (ahem..cough cough) “standard” of parenting – and I comment to my kids about how not to behave and those words either get repeated loudly by them or god forbid, the parents overhear me, and they then proceed to get all aggressive about it.

    Trouble is, I don’t think it makes a blind bit of difference to those types of parents.

    Don’t think we should go out together Sally – would cause mayhem and destruction!!

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:49 pm

      I am so judgmental, it’s appalling. Especially considering my own shocking performance, on occasion.

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:49 pm

      I know, right? They are sooooo cute.

  8. PetitMom
    29th June 2012 / 11:42 am

    oh my! I had a fun moment in Morrisons here when I went to buy strawberries for my boy and picked a pack up but it had mould. I gave the pack to member of staff and they took it away. I came back to the strawberry area and then realised nearly half of the packs were mould infested. I loudly said “I don’t think my son wants me to buy him mould with his strawberries” mostly wanting the staff member behind me to react but instead every other customer nearby reacted. I don’t think Morrisons likes me now so think I’ll stick to Tesco for now!

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:50 pm

      Gross. I would have done exactly the same as you in that situation. You go, girl.

  9. 29th June 2012 / 11:51 am

    Wow, the mind boggles!

    I would have just said straight away that my kid set it off by accident to spare the whole evacuation thing… but sounds like they had all the time in the world to stand outside waiting for someone to ‘find the fire’.

    Some people are weird.

    But you – you did the right thing 🙂
    MrsB recently posted..A great little exercise appMy Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:50 pm

      Well, I was amazed they just sat there. Who would do that??

  10. 29th June 2012 / 1:15 pm

    Online grocery shopping is the only answer but yes, you were entirely right to mention it – riot wasn’t your fault probably
    Muddling Along recently posted..Unexplained infertilityMy Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:50 pm

      I’d say probably definitely.

  11. 29th June 2012 / 1:26 pm

    Good for you! An accident is an accident but they could have stopped the evacuation and all the bother if they’d owned up.
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..How Do You Cope?My Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:51 pm

      I get a bit cross at things like that – I mean, elderly people – it’s just not right to cause all that stress and bother. Grrr.

  12. 29th June 2012 / 3:40 pm

    That’s the kind of thing I would do in my head, but probably not be brave enough to actually speak up about. How could they not have leapt up and admitted it was an accident?!

    I’m looking forward to lots of cute kitten pics 🙂
    Ruth – geekmummy recently posted..Side by side: Our BritMums Live experiencesMy Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:51 pm

      Oh, I am SHAMELESS for it. I’m the one who tells off other people’s kids, who goes and interrogates people crying on the street to see if they’re okay – for quite a private person, I really have no boundaries for this sort of thing 🙂

      • 30th June 2012 / 5:35 pm

        Good for you – I am in awe

  13. 29th June 2012 / 7:15 pm

    Can you tell me, why it’s always you who these things happen to? Your life is better than any movie. As for those parents, they should be ashamed of themselves. They should have just stood up and apologised when the alarm first went off. Would have saved a lot of hassle for everyone…
    Carolin recently posted..Amy is rocking her Bobux i-walk shoesMy Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:52 pm

      I know. My life is full of interest. I’m not sure why I’m quite so – shall we say – incident prone. But fortunate that I found my way into a career as a writer at least, so I’m never short of material!

  14. 29th June 2012 / 8:05 pm

    This is hilarious! I read your tweet about it and had to come see the full story. I can’t believe they didn’t own up, or even stop the child in the first place. Although nothing surprises me really anymore about people.
    mum of all trades recently posted..A Swallows and Amazons Summer?My Profile

    • 29th June 2012 / 9:53 pm

      I was genuinely quite shocked. It’s not hard to say, “I’m so sorry, we did that completely by accident, we do apologise.” And I’m glad I’m still shocked – guess it means I don’t see it too often 🙂

    • 2nd July 2012 / 11:06 am

      She’s a liability, is what she is.

  15. Vic
    2nd July 2012 / 10:10 am

    Love it! Your daughter is amazing!

    • 2nd July 2012 / 11:06 am

      Well, I’m quite fond…

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