Tuesday 26 July 2016

Starving of Wanstead

I am home alone and there is nothing to eat. Hungry, I checked the bread bin for sustenance. Half a stale pitta. Fruit bowl; a lemon. I ventured to the fridge. Four egg yolks in a bowl, left over from a pavlova last Wednesday. Some grated cheddar, a jar of cornichons, some jam, a lettuce, some carrots, and some milk that went off six days ago. The only really edible item was a packet of octopus tapas that I had promised Mrs L we would share. There are some wives, not many but some, who (it is said) prepare the necessary number of meals for their beloveds any time they go away, and leave them labelled in the fridge. With instructions. This may be an urban myth of course, but I checked all the way to the back and it seems that Mrs L is not one of them. I phoned her.

Where is all the food, I asked? It is in the shops, she replied. Eh? Shops? Apparently if I want to eat I have to go and buy food at a shop. Harsh. It is fair to say that these days I do not play an exactly equal role in the domestic necessities of Chateau L, but I'm busy earning a crust (which ironically I reckon I would have been pleased to find). The last time I went shopping for food was probably in about 2011, just before I got demoted and sent back to Canary Wharf. I had got the hang of it by then after starting from a low baseline in 2009, but I have regressed significantly. 

Dammit, I mean yes I do know how to go shopping, but I do not want to go shopping. It is out of my way, it takes time, it is irritating. You need bags, you have to choose things for a balanced meal (these days with lots of fibre) and then return home and cook it. I could, I suppose, order takeaway and absolutely stuff my face with greasy crap, but that doesn't sound very appealing. Plain pasta it is then, back to the mid 90s and my student days. I'll go food shopping tomorrow perhaps.

Talking of shopping my last experience was not a good one. These days I buy almost everything on line, but I needed a trellis quickly, or more specifically a plant obelisk. This is a structure that you stick in a plant pot and that provides support for a vine to climb up. I am trying to grow a passion-fruit (to stave off future starvation if I am abandoned again), and it has got to the stage where it needs repotting into a larger container and requires support. So on the way back from work I stopped off at what purported to be a garden centre. The place used to be Homebase a few years ago, but that closed and now it is something called a B&M Home Store. I'd never heard of it, but I knew my way there and soon walked through the large automatic doors. 

I found myself standing in a large warehouse full of junk. At first I wondered if the years had in fact dulled my memory and I taken a wrong turn somewhere, but no this was the place. It was extraordinary. There was no order, everything was completely random. The first aisle sold canned fish and garden lights. If you're shopping for tuna, would a set of solar-powered chinese lanterns be an impulse purchase? Equally, if you were after some garden lights would you slip in a couple of tins of salmon, well, just because? Who thought this was a clever move? I staggered around the place in a daze - much like the other customers it has to be said - looking for a trellis. The amount of tat was simply outstanding, mind-boggling in it's crappiness. Is this what the interior of houses in Leyton look like? Who buys this stuff thinking that yes, a Scooby Doo cuckoo clock is just the thing for the mantle-piece? 

I eventually found the part of the shop masquerading as a garden centre. Lots of paving slabs, white gravel and some half dead plants. The trellis was £1.99 and didn't look like it would last far into August. There was an obelisk, but when I picked up the box the contents fell out of the bottom in pieces. Self assembly required, and with the camp bed experience fresh in my mind I thought the better of it, forseeing a "straight-to-bin" experience. I returned home and constructed my own using thin pieces of dead bamboo from one of my plants and some string. Rustic but effective. I wish now of course that I'd bought a tin of that salmon....

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