The walk back from the supermarket along the river is lovely and tranquil. Well, tranquil-ish, as the sound of traffic is never far away. I hate going for the shopping at the best of times but, just occasionally, if the weather is right and the towpath dry, it can be almost pleasant. Today is one of those days; the sun is out, birds are twittering away and doing whatever it is that little brown birds do, the odd pleasure boat motors past with its passengers waving merrily like royalty at whoever is wandering along the bank. Even the derelict factories and warehouses behind ivy-clad fences look strangely attractive in the sunlight.
I have a rest at my favourite spot on the way home, a bench facing the river, with a small triangular grassed area behind it where some stunted saplings feebly attempt to grow. The towpath makes up one side of the triangle, a couple of short, dead-end roads form the other two sides. A row of terraced Georgian houses line both streets, giving the residents a very pleasant outlook of river, green and trees. It always amuses me to think that some of the flats are privately owned, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, whilst others are housing association properties, meaning that the well-off and the not-so-well off enjoy the same view, but the well-off pay much more for it. The bench itself is covered in marker pen graffiti and has the odd scorch mark here and there but that doesn’t greatly trouble me. I am just grateful for somewhere to rest a while and stop the thin bag handles cutting into my fingers.
Another plastic cruiser chugs its way towards town, the silver-haired chap at the helm waving enthusiastically. I give a polite wave back; it seems the right thing to do. I place a carrier bag either side of me on the bench and take a moment to go through them to check what I’ve got. That’s the thing about someone else’s shopping; you end up with stuff you wouldn’t choose yourself. The list is still in the bag so I can check the items off. Potatoes; I have a lot of potatoes, and I mean a lot. There is a two and half kilo bag at the bottom of each carrier so it is no wonder progress home is slow. Mushrooms, in a paper bag, not plastic, so they can breathe properly and won’t get sweaty, and carrots, organic of course. Apples (Braeburns to which I am very partial) and spinach, which I always think as a fraudulent foodstuff because you think you have tons of it yet, when it is cooked, there is just a small pile of green mush in the bottom of the pan. Deceitful; yes, that’s the word. It is a deceitful vegetable. And picture hooks. I have no idea what she’ll do with picture hooks. Hang pictures I suppose. I don’t think we’ve got any room to hang pictures in our flat but I’m sure she’ll make some space.
Coming back to the veg, personally, I’m a fast food kind of guy and will be the first to admit I eat a lot of crap but it’s nice to be adventurous from time to time and actually use a recipe from the ruddy great pile of cook books by celebrity chefs that take up precious space in the kitchen. I know how to fry and deep fry. And toast. I can do toast. The missus is a much better cook than I’ll ever be. Occasionally she likes to put on a bit of a show in the kitchen, using every bloody pot and pan, pretending she knows what she’s doing. The results vary and muggins here has to clean up after her, but when she gets it right, man, it’s worth it. Well, she’s going to have fun with this lot.
Damn. A siren. It’s the law. I’d better get moving; I don’t want to be found with someone else’s shopping.
We’re sure you enjoyed this story by J.P Paradise and, if that’s the case, you should probably check out his website. He’s also written the awesome Children of Another Albion, a steampunk novel for kids set in an alternative Britain. You can also find J.P onTwitter and Facebook.
You may also like the the darkly humerous short story Just Desserts, also by this author.
This is one of a number of short stories on Stranger Views.