Thursday, February 5, 2004

Like wind I go

Canary Wharf features a splendid Waitrose. I’ve always loved Waitrose, I must admit, because it is just that bit more special than Tesco. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Waitrose and Tesco source their stock from exactly the same suppliers, but each shows how marketing can differentiate the essentially similar.

Pretending that advertising doesn’t work on you is like pretending you do not breathe. It’s better, surely, to accept that you are a child of your times, and just as susceptible to the bullshit you swim in as everybody else.

Surfing from CW to Waitrose, I noted that there is a recipe section and a bean and cavolo nero thing caught my eye. I didn’t know what cavolo nero was (okay, I guessed “black cabbage”, but that doesn’t paint a picture), so I googled it. I used to eat curly kale as a child – not necessarily by choice, of course – if I had been picking the menu it would have been sliced banana sandwiches and acid drops, with the odd creme egg thrown in. I have always been loyal to Cadburys. My nan served on the line at their Wallasey factory for many years (it’s been closed down, I think) and would steal me a bagful for each summer’s visit.

That makes me think of my granddad. I don’t think I could wholly admire him now, but I loved him beyond reason when I was a child. He was Hemingwayesque – okay, a sexist drunk, but he talked a good game. He didn’t have any guile. If he talked rubbish, he believed it when he was talking it.

He was an apostle of the simple life. His philosophy was summed up in this verse from the Rubaiyat:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse---and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness---
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

You know. My life turns rubbish when I try to complicate it. My granddad enjoyed a drink, a few quid on the geegees, reading the paper and listening to the radio. I wonder whether I’m not happiest under a tree. Maybe I’m romanticising him. I do want more too. But sometimes wanting is the worst thing you can do to yourself.
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd---
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

Was Granddad wrong to think that all we’d achieve from our striving was worn-out bones?

Just as a treat for the choc lovers, should any ever read this: waste your days on Splurge, Cadbury's idea of fun.


I read Granddad’s verse of Khayyam at his funeral. What could they read at mine?
The fool is his own enemy.
The mischief he does is his undoing.
How bitterly he suffers!