It occurred to me today in the supermarket that the vehicle we push our goods around in there would probably have been called a barrow if such a thing had existed when I was a kid. We certainly had broadly similar things back then, but we didn't have supermarkets. In fact when we did start supermarkets, we had neither barrows nor trolleys to push around in them. Shopping baskets were the norm and were it not for the absurd amounts of packaging that supermarkets now force us to take home, might well suffice for a weekly shop today, as they did in the early 60s. When supermarkets were kind enough to provide us with barrows though, they called them trolleys. I'm at a loss to understand why. We always had trolleys, but they served a different purpose, such as those in hospitals and laboratories which are used as movable tables and sometimes have integral drawers, shelves and cupboards. They are clearly different beasts to the barrow. I have been pondering whether this bastardisation of our language was imported from the States along with supermarkets, but I'm not so sure it did. From what Wikipedia tells me, the Yanks can't make up their minds whether the shopping barrow ought to be called a truck, cart or buggy and in the case of the child-friendly ones, “Car-Carts” or "Beans”. Goodness knows where the last term comes from but here is a picture of what they are claimed to be: As a by the by, Wikipedia kindly informs us that some 24,000 children per annum are injured in the USA in shopping carts, as they sometimes call them. It doesn't say how and we might speculate how many of these injuries occur as a result of poor “cart” design, how many occur through parental negligence and how many just happen as a consequence of random gunshot wounds as the Yanks vie against each other for Black Friday bargains. Maybe they are accustomed to drawing their guns at folk who block supermarket aisles so they can yak with their kinfolk about the price of fish on the fish counter. I know I would probably be doing that if I lived there. “Hey you! GTF out of this lane or the kid is going to put on a lot of weight quick if I need to fill him with lead just to get by!”, I can imagine myself saying. Maybe the use of the word trolley rather than barrow was introduced so it would appeal more to the middle class, who wouldn't be seen dead pushing a barrow they hadn't bought from John Lewis to carry their trug and begonia plants around the garden. Trolleys were used in middle class occupations like medicine and science, so is that how the barrow became a trolley? Why weren't they called shopping prams though? I mean, apart from the slimline ones, they have been designed so they can cart babies and toddlers around, along with the shopping, at the perfect height that enables the brats to fiddle with and suck other customers' shopping once it's on the conveyor belt. The perfect height to clout them at when their parents are inattentive, incidentally, so it's swings and roundabouts for all when fortune prevails. Incidentally, I was delighted to see that Wikipedia has this picture on it's website, to explain to the rest of the world how we do things in Britain once we've “done with”, are “through with” or have finished with the use of the shopping barrow. Regrettably, the caption under the picture says “Shopping cart bay in a UK supermarket parking lot” Who in the UK has ever used a shopping cart? Who has ever parked in a UK parking lot? Is it too late to get back to basics and define a list of words that everyone understands the precise meaning of, if they intend to speak or write in English?