Buffet

Do you ever feel like you would prefer a buffet meal to a sit-down three course one? The option to try a little of this and little of that, rather than be faced with a large plate of one kind of food?

This is the blog version of a buffet – although just as you can have breakfast buffets or desert buffets or Chinese style buffets, there is a theme; Things that have drive us a bit mad during the summer holidays, together with things that have annoyed us, and peppered with things that always have irritated me a little, but until now, I’ve had nowhere to include them in my writing. So do have a look and take your pick.

Back to the buffet. Have you ever watched certain people load their plate to resemble a terrifying tower of too much? What was once food, carefully prepared and appetizing, is now plonked on a platter, and becomes an indistinguishable and repulsive hogfest. Do people actually want to eat that much?

Serving spoons used for the wrong dish. Get your cauliflower cheese spoon out my roast potatoes please. It’s yucky.

Oh, and while I am on that subject, here comes a matter that some may feel is trivial, but along with others, I am quite convinced it is the end of civilization as we know it. Butter knives. For goodness sake, is it so difficult to take a portion of the stuff and put it on the side of your plate? There is nothing quite so unappetizing as a butter pat laced with the crumbs of someone else’s toast. As for using the same implement for both marmalade AND butter – I am wincing as I write, and dialling the breakfast police.

A few days ago, I found myself at the self-service checkout of my local supermarket. I say I found myself there, because household shopping sends me into a trance, and it is unusual that I queue up with anything less than a very full trolley or two, having gone wild in the aisles, stocking up with this that and the other, in case we get snow in August. But on this particular day, my needs were modest, and I stood behind the man with only a string bag of lemons in his basket, holding my own containing simply bread, eggs and milk (the wherewithal for a Bacchanalian feast) and became incandescent with fury when I saw a woman with a loaded trolley loaded with comestibles commander – not to say hog – a “Ping ping ping unexpected item in bagging area” machine. Surely this was unacceptable? Garish orange signs hung above our heads, and showed pictures of baskets. Was this an instruction or merely a suggestion?

When the weather was much warmer, I accompanied the Artist to the beach, while he painted en plein air and I thought about writing a story, which is almost an achievement, although in truth, it is nothing of the sort. But it felt quite good at the time, and far less painful than actually writing, especially for a commitment-phobic procrastinator of a novelist.

The cove we visited was particularly pretty and welcoming, even if it was accessed by an extremely steep descent; this is challenging at the best of times, and almost foolish while carrying two folding chairs, an easel, a paint box, a canvas and…well enough about the Artist. I had to carry a whole bottle of water AND my laptop. Sigh.

Because of this natural wonder, the only conveniences were at the top of the cove, so people generally ignored the course of nature until they were really quite desperate before climbing back up the Megaslope. Now, we lasted for ages. I do not tell you this to boast of bladder capacity; I wouldn’t be that vulgar and you should know me better… however suffice to say, having hung on for as long as possible and feeling it was time to probably give in and attempt the ascent, we felt the first drops of rain. As a result, a large proportion of sea bathers decided to make tracks at the same time. How silly, I thought, as they were already wet…

The queue for the lavatory was as long as one for Immigration at JFK International Airport. As I waited, I wondered why I had always scoffed at the idea of a Shewee, however novel. At length, I was third in line and wondered why the cubicle on either side of the middle one were vacated after reasonable periods of time, but the central lavatory was firmly closed with the occupant’s feet strangely close to the door. Outrageous woman; while we were all hopping from foot to foot, the selfish madam was getting dressed!

Incensed, I said loudly; “Lavatories are for performing natural bodily functions. We are all waiting outside to do exactly that. Occasionally, for the desperate or the deviant, they provide a semblance of privacy for illicit sex and or for taking drugs. However, they are unsuitable for anything else and they are specifically not changing rooms!”

I got a little cheer from my fellow ladies in the queue, and even a high five, and felt quite pleased I had at least provided some entertainment while we all tested the tolerance of our bladders versus our tempers. The woman emerged, red faced and rather disheveled, then scurried away in shame. She had totally missed the point. Half the fun on a Cornish beach is watching lobster coloured sunbathers help their pale spouses in and out of wetsuits. It provides hours of harmless fun and charming entertainment.

There now. I think that’s everything. Phew. Apart from a polite, if slightly embarrassing, request. I have a charming metal replica of it hanging on the door of my guest cloakroom. It was originally used in the conveniences provided in the waiting rooms of the Victorian Southern Railways. It would seem that the advice is still necessary. The sign reads; “Gentlemen, please adjust your dress before leaving.” Guys, you know what I’m saying…

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