Saturday, 11 June 2011

Unaccustomed as I am

This morning I walked to the local village centre to post a letter and buy some vegetables. There are a number of things that are unusual about that statement.

I can hear you cry: "Post a letter? At the Post Office? What is this, daddy-o, 1952?"

Those would be fair questions to ask. I don't normally bother with letters these day, but in this case it was necessary. The intended recipients of my missive are, quite frankly, as organised and trustworthy as a whoop of gorillas, so Registered Post was needed.

The 'vegetables' bit of the equation will be equally confusing to those who know me well. I truly believe that plants are food for food. Garnish at best. But Katie made a fish pie the size of Hampshire for tonight and she insisted that we have something to go with it. I tried to protest, but all I got for my trouble was one of her looks.

Out of all the factors, though, it's the walking part that is so out-of-character for me. Partly because I've fallen out of practice with forward ambulation since the halcyon days of 2010. I really haven't got back into the swing of regular exercise at all and as a result I'm attaining a waistline reminiscent of a Giant Redwood.

That's not a good thing. Redwoods live for very long, but I think they don't have cholesterol to worry about.

The thing is, it's normally so easy to jump into the car for things like this. This morning, however, saw us recovering from a rather late night out during which several cleansing ales were involved. Driving was definitely not on the menu.

And so I trudged into the village centre. Well, when I call it that, it's only because "the particular bit of the city in our postal district that has a selection of shops" is a bit of a mouthful. It would be wrong for you to have the impression that we live in one of those idealised English villages, where the church bells ring out mid-day, there is cricket on the green, cosy taverns selling warm beer and half-timbered tea shops displaying piles of buttered crumpets.

No. This is urban life. The only pubs around here have shouty red-faced men sat outside with no shirts on, studiously necking continental lager. And the last time we saw anyone around here holding a cricket bat they were holding up the Cash Converters.

But I think I could get the hang of this urban walking. I enjoy walking in the countryside, but it's not always convenient, mainly because the countryside is not here. But today I didn't need to wear special boots or gore-tex. No backpack or hydration unit was necessary. I got to use my iPod for its intended purpose, delivering The Black Keys' latest work into my rapidly-recovering-but-still-thumping-a-little-bit brain. And, heavens to Betsy, I got some exercise.

More to the point, the car sat unused. And with fuel at £1.40 a litre, that is not a bad thing.(I'll pause for a second here while my American readers process that last nugget of information. About $8.60 per US gallon, if you're interested.)

There was another unexpected benefit that arose as I got back home. I was greeted by a grim-faced Katie.

"Jesus, what's up?" I asked, watching as her bottom lip began to protrude.

"I was making the cheesecake for tonight and I went to move that big bag of icing sugar to one side. It, um, exploded."

I went to see that the kitchen did, indeed, look like the aftermath of a Rolling Stones aftershow party. If I'd driven this morning I would have been back 45 minutes earlier to witness what will forever more be called SugarGate taking place in real time. I might have laughed. This would not have been well-received.

Going for a walk and missing the event meant everyone was happy. A little sticky, perhaps, but at least peace was maintained.

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