Wednesday, 31 March 2010

How much is that tin of soup in the window?

I’m currently facing the horrible dilemma that I may have to change cafes. The music they play in Costa in Highgate is getting louder and louder and more and more predictable. It cuts through my headphones, ravaging my eardrums with easy listening mush and renders me incapable of writing anything useful. That said, I have somewhat loosened the writer’s block I’ve been fighting for the past week and am now moving forward, as my mentor Arnold Wesker would say, by killing my darlings. There are passages of text that it’s made me almost weep to cut out, but I need structure and they’re not helping. Just so I feel I’ve shared at least one of them, here’s a section of text I struck from the work this morning:


“Thence to Westminster, in the way meeting many milkmaids with their garlands upon their pails, dancing with a fiddler before them, and saw pretty Nelly standing at her lodgings door in Drury Lane in her smock sleeves and bodice... she seemed a mighty pretty creature”

Nelly, is of course Nel Gwynn and I love the thought that there was ever a time when milkmaids danced in the streets. I thought my life was one massive musical!

This afternoon I had my feet examined again. This time by a dashing Aussie who prodded around a bit before announcing that my carves were still too tight and that I needed to up the stretching regime. He also re-did my insoles and added about a centimetre to their height. I’ll be in callipers yet...

I celebrated the prospect of a yellow disabled badge by heading to the Corner Shop Deli on Highgate High Street because fancied a can of soup for dinner. My eyes were drawn to the Baxter’s “Luxury Range”. They’re usually about 50p more expensive than Heinz, but the quality wins through every time. One can looked particularly tasty; courgette and gruyere, so I took it down from the shelf and immediately gasped. £3.49. £3.49 for a tin of soup! The other soups in the range were £1.89. Expensive enough but £3.49! What were they going to do? Cook it for me? Throw in a loaf of bread. Make it from scratch and pour it into the tin themselves? We all know that the Corner Shop in Highgate is pricey. We doggedly put up with it because we hate the fact that Tesco has opened a branch half-way down the hill and being middle class we have to pretend its arrival didn’t excite us just a little bit. But £3.49 for a tin of soup? I took it with me to the counter and complained vociferously whilst the man smiled sweetly and said; “yes, expensive soup... customer like... customer buy”. Not this customer.

Being a great believer in human rights, I went home and immediately phoned the press office at Baxter’s. I often call the press offices; more gets done if you have a whiff of the documentary film-maker about you. I asked what the recommended retail price was for their courgette soup and was told £1.50. “Even with the gruyere?” I asked, not knowing the price of gruyere, or even what gruyere is. “Yes” she replied. I explained I was being asked to pay more than twice that amount and she was horrified, but pointed out eventually it wasn’t Baxter’s policy to police individual shops. Fair enough. Five minutes later, they called back. Someone more senior had heard about Gruyere Gate and they wanted to take action! I shopped the shop. So if anyone from Highgate Corner Shop is reading this blog, hurry up and re-price your goods, because the man From Baxter’s... he say no!

Very little happened to Pepys on this date 350 years ago. The ships were all still anchored at Gravesend and no one seemed to be in any great hurry to get anywhere. Pepys made a bit of money, for doing one Captain Jowles a favour, and later entertained one of his neighbours from Axe Yard, feeling very thrilled that he was respected enough to be allowed to make his friends welcome on the ship. Quite why his neighbour from Axe Yard happened to be passing a flotilla of ships on the Thames Estuary, I’ve no idea, but Pepys, I’m sure made him feel very welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Have you thought about the coincidence that, now when Sam is stuck waiting for the wind and tide in Gravesend, you are also feeling somewhat adrift? While he has been busy essentially shuffling papers and doing odds and ends, you are going through your notes and, painfully eliminating scenes and snippets of song? Maybe you need to skip ahead a bit and, when Sam is under full sail, you will start skimming over the musical waves?

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