Written by Roo Green

In The News

Hopelessly devoted

When she found herself playing Greyfriars Bobby to a specific brand of yoghurt, Roo Green took a look at her steadfast loyalties, and questioned the method behind what’s sometimes madness.

Greyfriars Bobby: unlikely to be swayed by a three-for-two on Butcher's Tripe Mix.

Greyfriars Bobby: unlikely to have his little head turned by a three-for-two on Butcher’s Tripe Mix. Possibly because he’s a statue.

In the checklist of qualities you want to see in a friend or a partner, I’m guessing loyalty would be pretty high up, if not at the top.

We definitely insist on it in dogs – for fear we’ll twist our ankles in a disused quarry and need our four-legged friend to go and look for help. Who wants a pooch that gives us a look that says ‘screw you’ and wanders off, uninterested, to eat Chum in front of Keeping Up with the Kardashians? No episode of Lassie or The Littlest Hobo that I’ve ever seen.

If you’re selling stuff, it’s the Holy Grail: the loyal customer, who does not sway even when faced with the heady lure of the three-for-two. I think you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who sees loyalty as a detrimental thing and until recently I’d have been in that camp.

I live with five full-sized supermarkets less than three miles away, and myriad smaller corner shops. So why last week did I find myself getting in the car and driving further afield to a store that I usually avoid because of its premium pricing? To buy my favourite yoghurts, and nothing else. Like the Mariah Carey of diva dairy purchasing, I insist on this one brand and for some reason it stopped being stocked by other shops.

To my thrifty husband’s horror I refuse to try anything else, convinced after a decade of eating them every day, I’ll never love another variety more.

“I am the woman who cried for a day, because my ex drove away from the tip too quickly and I didn’t get a chance to wave goodbye to my broken vacuum cleaner.”

I never really questioned this thinking until the other day – when I was filling up with petrol simply to get my paws on some probiotic loveliness. Why am I so slavishly attached to some people and things, despite the inconvenience (and sometimes expense) that devotion brings to an already busy life?

That yoghurt brand loyalty is not unique. Even as a student I was determined to keep buying premium baked beans, soup and ketchup, despite barely having enough to live off. Every time I clocked them in a shared kitchen, I’d think of my family at home; a case of genez meanz Heinz maybe…

I once turned down cider at a party because it was not from my home county of Herefordshire. That’s right, FREE booze waved away because it turns out that if the brands’ straplines haven’t pulled me in, then I’ll click my heels like Dorothy and tell you, “There’s no place like home.”

I have been seeing my colourist Lloyd for 18 years. Frankly he is my most successful relationship with a man, as he has never once disappointed me. Lloyd works his magic with the foils in Southampton: I have not lived in the city since the year 2000. I have lived in Bedford, Coventry, Royal Leamington Spa, Hereford and Swindon – and I’ve kept both the rail and fuel industry afloat by paying for journeys to the south coast to get my Scandi-blonde on. This is a loyalty I do not regret, although my bank manager might say otherwise.

Lassie

Even Lassie might think twice at travelling that far to have her roots done.

Talking of banks, I have three accounts: a personal one, a joint one with Mr Roo and one I never use. Why have I never closed the unused one? Because they started issuing left-handed chequebooks when it was my sole account, and I really appreciated the gesture; if I should need to write a cheque, I always use that account to show them just how much I admire that thoughtfulness.

Yeah, I know.

And let’s not get started on my loyalty to inanimate objects. I am the woman who cried for a day, because my ex drove away from the tip too quickly and I didn’t get a chance to wave goodbye to my broken vacuum cleaner. It had been a loyal servant and I really felt it needed the acknowledgement.

Or there’s the time the same ex refused to do ‘another lap of the car park’ at the dealership so I could give a wave to my departing Smart car Hetty. To be honest, crying and waving was a motif of that relationship, but that’s a story for another time.

Even my loyalty to friendships needs taking in hand sometimes. My husband and parents point out to me now and then those who aren’t giving it back. But for that I’m willing to keep my blinkers on – I live away from the majority of my mates and our lives are busy. Yes, I’m hurt by some of the things that go on, but it’s hard to untangle fecklessness from the fatigued faithful and I like to believe in the best of people, until absolutely proved otherwise.

I don’t think we need to tweet Dr Freud to see what’s going on here. I’ve moved around a lot since I left home for university – and until I got married I’d never lived in one town or city for more than four years (and even then I’d had three homes in that place). I found forging new friendships hard, knowing that I’d be on the move again. I think I’ve been clinging to colourists, cars and chequebooks to give some sense of solidity in a sea of change.

But as with most things in life, it’s about trying to find a balance. From here on in I want to be loyal enough to keep hold of the things that bring me joy, and discerning enough to distance myself from the detrimental aspects of my life. Let’s drink to that (with Herefordshire cider, obviously).

@roogreen

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Written by Roo Green

Roo Green has worked in radio since all this was fields. She loves reading, eating and writing, and blogs at www.roogreen.co.uk. Paisley Park is in her heart.