blessing counting (107)

In anticipation of the lockdown ending

in time for us all to get sick over Christmas, I have received a two page printed letter, marked on the envelope as addressee only and confidential, which is designed to make me feel like an anti vax rat and send me off to have the flu jab.  I’d love to know how many of these were sent because – gilt on the guilt – it goes on to infer that by not doing as I am told, I am wasting NHS funds.  Three minutes with a sentient human would establish that the flu vaccine was contra indicated by a doctor. Much cheaper.   Of course, there is the matter of who you trust – the NHS and the system in general, me, my former GP or the current practice, etc.   I shall reply in due course.

As I left Waitrose on Friday, a voice said quietly, very close to my ear “You have the most wonderful hair.”  The owner of the voice came unmistakably from the US 40 years ago (Philadelphia), was a teacher married to a documentary film maker, and has been ill. 

We spent 10 happy minutes nattering round our masks.   A Good Thing.

The autumnal corduroy wide legged trousers I bought atypically for £20 in sale  have been approved of by three younger women – a neighbour who beamed and pointed approvingly,  Olya an architect from Belarus, here 10 years, and a woman waiting with me for the till in the supermarket.  I mention this because I have friends who are good at bargains but sadly my instinct for a bargain is psychically undeveloped.

Whereas while I wouldn’t say it is routine, it is not unusual for Wal to get £60 of shirt for £24 while Pam the Painter enters TKMaxx like Sir Galahad at the gallop.  

It took years for me to realise that I was quite well served on the last day of sale because what I want, few others want anyway.  I am wary of reduced prices I can’t quantify – and like many of us, I have lived too often through the false euphoria of “two (or even)three for one” – toothpaste yes, but unless something to eat is your real fave, it goes off or you get bored with the whole idea.

When we lived a life in which freedom of movement was a given (I admire spontaneity though very wary of the word normal)  Ginny and I had supper roughly monthly and, both red wine drinkers, worked our way through blends from SA and named Italians, which included Primitivo – a vinous panther, not often sought because it was pricey.   And recently, in giving the shelves my careful attention, I discovered the beast reduced by £3.   Reader, I bought it.  

  And when I discovered the same offer 48 hours later in another branch, I bought it a second time.   A Good Thing.     Two inches of Primitivo is worth two thirds of a bottle of lesser stuff.   I sipped it while watching the opening half hour of Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth, a production which scrambles history to the good end of emotional truth. I didn’t stay with it because I was drowsy and I thought I might sleep, also A Good Thing.

A long time ago McVitie Digestives made a marketing decision – same number of biscuits but smaller for the same price and I think I have just seen the same take for the second time.  My favourite bakers (French, two shops) stock a pumpkin seed loaf of delicious durability ie in a ziplock you can keep it going for a week for toast.  The bread is as good as it ever was, the price the same but the size is noticeably smaller.  I looked at it, it looked at me – oh well, I thought, you can’t have everything in a world where the payback is just beginning to be visible. 

It was still A Good Thing.

And then there was a good thing that was really an aesthetic investment because cheap it was not.  I bought 10 bronze chrysanthemums.  I know they are not everybody’s choice but they are mine.  |I love the colour, the smell, perhaps even the fact that they aren’t often available … six in the living room, four in the kitchen, course work on blessing counting (107) complete. 

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