'Try working on a checkout at Christmas, then you’ll know what pressure is' - column writer's message to Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister’s performance before the CBI in South Shields was extraordinary, for all the wrong reasons.

Those calling for tougher sentences might have been reassured to see just how tough the PM was finding his, but I doubt it. Forgive me.

Deputy Dominic Raab claimed that his boss Mr Johnson was on “great form”; worrying those now pondering what our leader would be like in bad form.

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We’ve all had trying days at work, so let’s not judge Johnson on one toe-curling episode. Not when there have been so many others.

Would the PM face less pressure if he worked on a checkout? It's debatable. Picture by Frank Reid.

One of the reasons posited as being behind the bizarre episode is pressure. No doubt he does a high pressure job.

However, he’s hardly unique in this regard. The many others working under relentless pressure include people running struggling businesses, emergency service personnel and those excellent fellows who produce weekly columns for page 16 of a local newspapers. The backbone of Britain.

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But being as it’s this time of year I would like to single out one group who have a particularly torrid time. They are not well paid and, unlike leading politicians, can’t just pack in and earn a fortune elsewhere.

I refer to supermarket staff; particularly those on the checkout. At the best of times they are underappreciated, despite making life easier for millions.

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Their employers now, as a matter of policy, make sure that checkouts are undermanned, so life is less tolerable still for customers as well as the people operating the three out of 20 checkouts actually in use.

Over the Christmas period, plus the two months that supermarkets pretend is the Christmas period, matters are exacerbated for this fine body of people.

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Not only are they working longer hours because 24-hour opening is apparently essential; the undermanning leaves them with longer queues to deal, with comprised of increasingly irritated clientele. Then there’s the music. Oh God, the music.

If Wham, Johnny Mathis and Shaky are aggravating, then Mariah Carey and Cliff Richard must contravene the Geneva Convention. No escape from them is afforded to the supermarket worker there.

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THAT’S pressure. So let’s hear it for the supermarket heroes.

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