So, fare thee well, Waitrose’s Helensburgh branch. You were fun while it lasted.

And a very useful source of local employment in a company which seemed, as part of the John Lewis franchise, to have a very enlightened business model.

There were no workers per se, just partners, each entitled to an annual bonus according to the profitability of the parent company.

Yet the partnership system offers no more protection than any other form of commercial activity when the virus hits the fan.

As a John Lewis spokesperson dismally observed, they can still sell ready meals in a lockdown, but not nearly enough sofas.

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And, of late, you will be hard pushed to buy even the former if you cherished hopes of an online delivery.

However, I have a tale to tell which restored my faith in this particular retail area.

Having trawled the Waitrose (and other supermarket) sites in vain for a home delivery, a friend advised me that, if I got the ass in gear early enough, a few slots were released every day.

Armed with that insider knowledge, I logged on a few days back, just after 5.30am, to the Waitrose mother ship.

Same story – fully booked or unavailable right through July. But, said my screen (sic), had I thought of click and collect?

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Not really, since I’ve been confined to barracks. Helensburgh wasn’t ‘click and collect’ available by then anyway. But, Milngavie was...

Now, that’s not exactly adjacent to the Rosneath peninsula, but I began to fantasise about the joy of a two hour jaunt in my own vehicle, at the end of which I could merely pop the bags in the boot without doing anything as daring as shopping.

So I got a collect slot booked, checked out the sat nav, and leapt into the motor.

Dead. Dodo dead. Not so much as a flicker on the dashboard.

A pal came round and tried resuscitation with jump leads. Nada. Eventually I contacted my roadside assistance company. But by now the slot was too narrow to navigate.

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So I called a mate in Milngavie and asked if she could pick up the stuff, and I’d get it one of these days.

Then I phoned the store to say someone else would be collecting. And explained why.

A man called David listened to my tale of mounting woes. And said he’d call back. And did.

And said he’d managed to load my messages on to a van which was just leaving. This is your lucky day, he said.

You know what? It was! My booty arrived at teatime. And if I ever get out of here again, David, whoever you are, the drinks are on me.

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