A stroll and a chat leads to a perfection of pickles
o begin’, as Dylan Thomas astutely said, ‘at the beginning.’
While travelling on the freebie bus from the town centre to Sainsbury’s a few days ago, I struck up a conversation with a most charming lady of, if I may say without giving offence, maturing years.
It’s quite amazing how many topics can be touched on in the few minutes from town to the store and then again, by chance, from the store back to town. One thing that exercised us both was the apparent scarcity of things to do in the town. This is simply a fact of small town life and not, for once, any fault of the council.
One of the most popular daytime pursuits seems to involve those horrid, small, electronic devices.
We see people of all ages sitting or walking with mesmerised eyes and dancing fingers, playing mindless games and sending messages to other, similar devices.
I have observed that these machines create a dependency more powerful than many of the drugs outlawed by Governments. This dependency will become ever more intense as self-determination and initiative become eroded. Would I be alone in considering this to presage the decline of actual human contact?
So, heading into town, I resolved to indulge in what one of the first
‘One thing that exercised us both was the apparent scarcity of things to do’
astronauts once described to the American author Norman Mailer as ‘face to face free-exchange verbal situations’ – chatting, in other words.
On a stroll through the town centre I had chats with people I didn’t know, about (of course) the weather, the council (naturally), the situation in Ukraine, Enoch Powell and his ‘rivers of blood’ speech (oops), Nepalese restaurants (highly praised) and militant Muslims paying the west back for the savagery inflicted on their forebears by the medieval Crusades.
And then I arrived at the fruit and veg stall run by a charming (I believe) Egyptian gent. There I was introduced to the mystique of jammaking by a pair of very helpful ladies. Consequently, this week I have been practising and, I hope, perfecting, the singing of that alltime top of the Women’s Institute pops, Jerusalem. It’s a stirring song – and provides an uplifting accompaniment to the proper agitation of jams and chutneys as they simmer on the nation’s hobs.
I now have three jars of blueberry jam, two of apricot and a quantity of marrow and shallot pickle.