Thursday 7 February 2008

Two big mistakes

14st 7lb; two units of alcohol; 1,458; Thames. Not because I’m in the South East but because it’s the nearest sea area to Reading, which is what I spent all day doing. As an antidote to yesterday, when I spent all day Writing.

What I mainly read were books, unoriginally enough, but I also made a thorough examination of the local press. From which I learned that I was completely wrong in asserting that none of the participants in the Alnwick Shrove Tuesday football match would even have been born when I last attended it in 1987. The scorer of the first hale for the victorious St Paul’s side was 35, and it was his eighth hale in the 25 years he has been playing. He now plans to retire.

I was also shocked to learn that my local farm shop is closing down for good next Friday, after 20 years in business. Going rather against the trend, one feels. The lady who established it handed it over just over a year ago to her daughter-in-law, who has decided that she needs to spend “more time with her children”. If she’s got any going spare when they are off at school (they are six and 10), she could write a much-needed counterblast to that book of Nicola Horlick’s, explaining why you can’t in fact have it all.

I was by no means her best customer, but the shop’s meat was superb and they made some excellent pies and other pastries. Added to which, I went in one Saturday last year to buy some paté for a dinner party (obviously intending to pretend that I’d made it myself) and was served by some young posh totty so jaw-droppingly gorgeous that I completely lost the power of speech. For the first time I really identified with my sometime stockbroking colleague Merv the Perv, who used to organize an annual cricket match between the Stock Exchange and Roedean School. In those days Merv suffered from a heart condition (but not any more, because he’s died of it) and he had the misfortune to black out while at the wicket. He came round to find 11 concerned, 18-year-old Roedean fielders gathered around his prostrate form, and announced afterwards that he really did think that he’d died and gone to heaven. I hope it lived up to expectations when he finally got there.

It’s enormously frustrating to live surrounded by naturally raised animals and not to be able to buy meat (and for that matter milk and other dairy products) direct from a nearby farm. Added to which, many of my neighbours were totally reliant upon this particular farm shop for their dinner party supplies (and for job lots of delicious canapés for their other social events). I reckon that we could be on the verge of a great exodus of the middle and upper classes, trekking across the veldt in their 4x4s to establish a new laager within striking distance of Northumberland’s only branch of Waitrose, more than 40 miles away in Hexham. Anyway, let’s hope so, eh?

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