I AM 74 years of age, and my wife 76.  This afternoon we travelled to Taunton to stock up our granddaughter with provisions various at the Asda Store to take with her to Plymouth, where she starts university on Saturday.  

All went well until we got to the checkout and the assistant picked up a small, innocent set of cutlery, four each of knives, forks, desert spoons and teaspoons. 

"Are these for her," my granddaughter, I was asked, and I indicated that they were.

"She is not to allowed to buy them," I was told. "She is under age."  

"She is not buying them, I am buying them for her," I pointed out. 

"As I know they are for her I cannot sell them to you," I was then told.

I explained the items were for her to take away to university and asked how she was to eat without them, but this met with the same response.

I also pointed out she was 18 years of age but that cut no ice - her grandparents' word not being acceptable.

In further conversation with the assistant and a supervisor who was called to further explain matters to me, it transpired that I would have to buy them for her in such a manner that the retailer did not know that I was going to give them to her. Deviously, in other words.

I paid the £122 for the rest of the shop and took it to the car. I then returned to make the cutlery purchase separately - 'deviously', as I understood I should do.

Not good enough! It appears I was followed out of and back into the shop.

On scanning them at the self-service till I was approached by a male member of staff who took the item from me pointing out that I had previously been refused the purchase. 

It appeared staff had gone to considerable lengths to prevent my granddaughter having her cutlery.

I am bemused by this whole incident.

How can it be unlawful for them sell the item to me for my granddaughter, openly and known to the retailer, yet lawful for me to buy them secretly and give them to her?

Why was the word of two, I would suggest, respectable looking OAPs, not acceptable as proof that our granddaughter was 18 years of age?

I would add that there were items in our shop every bit as useful as weapons; two drinks glasses, the go to weapon in many a bar brawl, a container of Domestos, a nasty mix of chemicals in the wrong hands, and Biro pens, not nice if poked into an eye.

I am left thinking that the circumstances of a purchase could be taken into account, a supervisor called to verify the authenticity such a purchase or has common sense gone out of the window.

I later made a purchase of cutlery, at another store, "deviously," and handed them to my granddaughter, so what did the ridiculous stance of the Asda officials achieve, except getting right up my nose.