Sugar-coat­ing the bloom­ing gloom

Sweet­ness may be the only rem­edy for a bad start to one’s Sun­day

Financial Mail - Investors Monthly - - One Last Thing - NICKY S SMITH

Some­times the grip of an in­som­nia hang­over that is bloom­ing lux­u­ri­ously into a full-blown ex­is­ten­tial funk can only be bro­ken by some­thing Rad­i­cal.

On Sun­day the Rad­i­cal was a waf­fle.

I don’t eat waf­fles. Not as a rule. I can’t even re­mem­ber when last I had one, but star­ing at the un­even ridges on the ceil­ing, with the win­ter cold claim­ing more of my ex­trem­i­ties, it came to me.

“Get up and go and try those waf­fles at that new place,” a voice in my head said. “Go now, or risk los­ing this day.”

It was en­tirely foolish and un­like me so it seemed it had to be the thing to fix the mis­ery of a cold, too-long night float­ing in a jagged-edged dream state.

Drift­ing in the sun­shine on a candy-rush cru­sade, feel­ing dis­con­nected and slit-eyed, I be­gan to doubt my foolish er­rand. The mood was dark, but I was up, dressed and walk­ing through Melville with a plan.

This was life­times away from where I had started.

I came to the col­lec­tion of ship­ping con­tain­ers that have been an­gled and stacked on top of each other, full of lit­tle shops, which has been ready­ing it­self to start trad­ing as 27 Boxes for weeks.

The new de­vel­op­ment, which sadly has claimed the ten­nis courts and over­grown lit­tle park in the neigh­bour­hood, is the first splash of any real money Melville has seen in decades, and even the mayor, Parks Tau, is ex­pected to at­tend the of­fi­cial open­ing.

Wan­der­ing in be­tween the con­tain­ers in search of the sil­ver waf­fle bullet, I dis­cov­ered a last­minute rush by some of the new shop own­ers try­ing to get ready for the of­fi­cial open­ing.

Lots of paint­ing and new shelf assem­bly ac­tiv­ity go­ing on. The op­ti­mism and ex­cite­ment in the con­ver­sa­tions was re­ally quite un­bear­able.

Look­ing around at the newly name-tagged shops it seemed im­me­di­ately clear from the col­lec­tion of cof­fee roas­t­er­ies, bi­cy­cle bou­tiques, macarone shops and mens’ sock bars which ones were go­ing to make it and which ones would not see the sum­mer.

I wor­ried about the ice cream bar open­ing in win­ter, and some of the bou­tiques looked damned for sure, as that kind of money just doesn’t shop in this area. And while I have no idea what the Great African Bistro will be, its name makes me ner­vous.

As a gen­eral rule no value judg­ments should be in the name of any busi­ness. If you have to tell peo­ple it’s great, it is prob­a­bly not, to mis­quote Mar­garet Thatcher. But if you must then there are plenty of fab­u­lous words to use in­stead such as Ma­jes­tic, Glo­ri­ous, Splen­drous...

I fi­nally made it to the waf­fle place. Weighed down by the en­thu­si­asm and hope of the am­a­teur shop fit­ters rush­ing to be ready for the rest of their lives, the menu in pur­ple and blue chalk filled me with dread.

The ar­rival of my dark cloud was treated cau­tiously. I could barely or­der, so a ten­ta­tive sug­ges­tion to “have the Clas­sic” was made. I could find no come­back to the man’s provo­ca­tion other than to of­fer him money.

The waf­fle it­self was dis­ap­point­ingly su­perb.

Two-thirds of the way through the ridicu­lously crunchy yet chewy, faintly cin­na­mony de­light, I found my­self quite pleased with the glint­ing pat­tern the shiny syrup I had spilled down my shirt front was mak­ing.

The sun felt good and I was tempted into con­ver­sa­tion with the man be­hind the counter. Af­ter thor­oughly in­ter­ro­gat­ing him I felt buoyed by his mea­sured con­fi­dence in his new busi­ness.

I walked through the jum­ble of shops again and felt more gen­er­ous, won­der­ing if I had judged some too harshly be­fore.

With the day res­cued it was time to celebrate. So I found a spot in the sun, where the beats play on a Sun­day, and re­laxed, watch­ing the black con­fetti that drifts on to the streets from the win­ter fires that burn on the nearby kop­pies.

The mood was dark, but I was up, dressed and walk­ing through Melville with a plan

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