A stroll and a chat leads to a per­fec­tion of pick­les

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Fundraiser -

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.

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