I have a very independent and strong-willed Grandmother who lives in Egypt, near her son.

She used to go to the market every week to buy her groceries, but eventually my uncle asked his driver to start going and getting them for her. (Yes, he's got a driver - it's not as posh as it sounds, he doesn't wear a peaked cap or anything, and in Egypt it is not so uncommon).

As is often the case with the older generation, Grandma had an unrealistic idea of the value of things, and always asked the driver how much the fruit and vegetables cost. She was convinced the driver was paying well over the odds.

He couldn't hope to find food priced at a rate which my Grandma thought reasonable, save for getting in a time machine and buying them in the previous decade.

She continually berated my Uncle's driver for paying too much for fresh produce, even suggesting that the driver was somehow ripping her off.

Eventually, they grew tired of her whining, and my Uncle decided that he would do anything for a quiet life.

Wishing he had never offered to help in the first place he told the driver:
"Just go to the market, buy what she needs, and tell her it cost half what you paid for it. I'll make up the difference."

It seemed a good solution. The driver did this, and Grandma felt vindicated, and pleased that her bill was more reasonable.

My uncle footed half the bill and everything was fine.

One day, my uncle noticed that the amount of money he was paying was really quite substantial. He was paying many times what he had at the outset.

The driver agreed that he was being asked to buy what seemed a large amount of food for one old woman.

It transpired that my Grandmother had been talking to a neighbour one day, comparing the price of their tomatoes and suchlike.

"Oh, you're paying far too much," Grandma said, "I get them for half that price. I'll get some for you next time if you like."

Word spread round the neighbourhood of how Mrs Y_ could get fruit and vegetables for a fraction of the normal cost, and soon Grandma was adding the shopping of half the neighbourhood to her order.

My uncle was subsidising the shopping bill for half of Alexandria.

To this day, I don't know if he's had the heart to tell her.

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