Supermarket shopping used to be a relatively quiet sport. You'd meander up the aisles, list in one hand, trolley handle in the other, interrupted only by the gentle refrain of the in-store radio informing you of a never-to-be-repeated offer on peanut oil in aisle three.
But supermarkets seem to have turned into playgrounds for the under-fives. On a recent shopping trip I couldn't hear myself think as a couple of kids fresh from their pre-school session cut loose while recreating a scene from Where the Wild Things Are.
I wondered Where their Parents Are and Where the Discipline Has Gone. On what planet is it OK to let your children run around a supermarket screaming as loudly as they can?
And just when it couldn't possibly have become any louder, one of the children came flying down the main thoroughfare and skidded within millimetres of my trolley. My work was more than cut out evading a collision, and then it hit me: if he had run into my trolley, a parent would probably have suddenly appeared and it would have been my fault.
Just as in the controversial book The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas - which asks the question, 'Whose side are you on?' after an unruly child is disciplined at a barbecue by another child's parent - would I inadvertently be cast as the baddie, with a lawsuit in the offing?
As I beat a hasty path for the exit, I heard other customers muttering their disapproval. And just before I left, a well-dressed blonde, the parent of the rabble rousers, wafted in from the land of sweet oblivion. I think I even overheard her use the word 'princess'.
After this ear-assaulting experience, Wellcome radio seems a very welcome change. The sweet muzak in the padded cell of the elevator leading to the car park had never sounded so good.