I was passing time with a man outside Waitrose yesterday. I don’t know his name but I like being with him because he makes me speak honestly. When I ask him how he is he never answers, ‘fine’, and I only stop and chat when I know I have the time. Yesterday, he said he’d been thinking about things. I said I was loving the weather but I felt sad because it was too warm for February. ‘In the old country,’ he said – he’s Irish – ‘the country people had a saying: The rooks don’t nest before March, unless the first of March falls on a Sunday.’ (An odd saying, I know, but could you make it up?) He looked up at the rooks cawing noisily in the bare branches of the old Horse Chestnut. ‘Those rooks are nesting,’ he said. It did appear so; one of them had a twig in its beak.
I told him I was thinking of giving up Waitrose and all supermarkets - even the little I do shop there. Yes, he agreed, they’re a problem. The food they sell is all wrong. But, he said, he could get great bargains on food, especially meat as it is approaches its sell by date. He told me about the shelves, scattered about Waitrose, where the cheap deals could be had. He told me about his all-time favourite food and how the Waitrose version was so much superior than that sold by the other supermarkets. After a long pause (sometimes he gives me one if his poems) I bid him goodbye.
(Insider information: There is now a recycling bin on North Street for Tetrapak juice, milk and soya milk cartons)