Eggs and the City
After a meeting in town, I find myself wandering along Marylebone High Street. JS and I once fantasised about moving there, until we realised we were hopelessly out of touch with the housing market and prices had shot up after Waitrose moved in. It’s now très fashionable with a wonderful mix of independent stores, nationwide chains, cafés and specialist food shops. I used to see Caroline Quentin in Waitrose. She always looked stressed.
Living on Planet Grief I find I am no longer interested in stylish boutiques (those familiar with my wardrobe will be gasping at such a bold statement) or chichi home accessory emporiums. Where once I would be in The White Company salivating over zillion-count Egyptian cotton sheets (before going home to John Lewis non-iron poly-cotton) I now shun such fripperies. The Emma Bridgewater shop no longer beckons me like a mermaid on a rock and I have no attention span to be interested in the tomes on the shelves of Daunt Books. In any case, I already have a huge and mostly unread collection of books about grief, the afterlife and how to live frugally on a small income. (Chickens and churn your own butter, apparently.)
But you know, sometimes it’s sunny and you’re stumbling along and your brain is on autopilot and like scores of times over the years you find yourself walking through the doors of Divertimenti, a wonderful Aladdin’s cave of super-stylish cookware. And then you stand there surrounded by things which only weeks ago would have had you eager to rush home, don a pinny and get cooking before you remember: It’s just me! What’s the point? Why am I even in here?
So, you stumble out and try not to sink to your knees in the street and sob, and turn into a side alley to pull yourself together to find you’re standing outside The Ginger Pig.
The Ginger Pig is a wonderful butchers selling rare breed meat and mouth-watering charcuterie. Once, I nearly had to be given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by the butcher when he told me how much four lamb loin chops were, but as I have the appetite of an anorexic gnat at the moment, I thought something tasty from The Ginger Pig’s deli counter might tempt my comatosed taste buds back to life.
I stand behind a couple that are choosing what they want. They’ll have a little bit of this and some of that, and how about two of those, and “Oh! They look wonderful, don’t they darling? Shall I get four? Two for today and two for the freezer?”
Other than the fact that the man is a porker and the woman has a shockingly obvious facelift, it could be JS and me deciding what delicacies to purchase. We loved food shopping, although before you have visions of us as a modern Fanny and Johnny Craddock, I should point out that JS rarely cooked beyond scrambled eggs and lamb chops, and that was always a palaver. But still.
And then an assistant asks me what I would like, and I look at the array of produce and say bleakly, “A scotch egg, please.”
“Just the one?” Her tongs quiver over the tray of meat-blanketed oeufs.
“Just the one,” I confirm.
She bags up the solitary golden orb.
“Will there be anything else?” she enquires, handing me the bag, the contents of which fit perfectly into the palm of my hand.
I shake my head, hand over some coins, scuttle out and dizzy with grief and oblivious to those around me, steady myself on a waste bin and howl in pain at the searing loneliness of buying one scotch egg.
ps: It was delicious.