Agrumes, Americano, Arborio, cashed up bogans, chamois, Citric acid, Dorothy Wordsworth, George Formby, Jane Austen, Kirstie Allsopp, Madeleine Morris, Mocha, quantitative easing, scurvy, Tesco Express, urban rednecks, Vitamin C
What on earth will I cook tonight? I thought, rushing up
the road to Tesco Express. Let’s see, we have had lamb,
pork, fish, beef.. Oh, I know: prawns! A nice risotto with
Arborio rice. What ingredients do I need to buy? Ah, a
What! Thirty five pence for that tiny green agrume!
Well, I am not the only one to moan about the price of
citrus. Madeleine Morris, the BBC’s Australia correspondent
was griping that a lime in the Antipodes will set you back the
equivalent of £1.50.
No doubt, on paying for it, you would have a face that would look
as if you had sucked its larger yellow relation.
Morris said that Australians didn’t know that they had
it so good, as there has been no recession Down Under and
the drives of urban rednecks, or cashed up bogans are often
full of boys’ toys which demonstrate this particular species’
Unfortunately she felt that being able to afford garnishes for
their gin and tonics and Margaritas did not always go hand in
hand with a display of common sense. She considered that the
moneyed do not always have a wealth of education to match.
Note that she said that, not me!
Anyway, with no sunshine here, I have got to stump up, or
I will probably succumb to some kind of deficiency. However,
I once read that a lemon has about 75% more Vitamin C than
a lime, so maybe I should just buy an unripe lemon, or a plastic
one and squirt the liquid into the risotto when no one is looking.
I was recounting my experience of rising prices with Carrie in
Costamuchamoulah café. We are not cutting back on caffeine yet.
She was moaning about the price of having her windows cleaned.
You could just clean them yourself with newspaper and vinegar, I
She looked at me as if I was mad. Vinegar smells, she said.
Well, use lemon, but don’t clean them in sunlight.
You’ve just told me the price of citrus, so how many would I need?
Okay, I see your point. My chap has put up his prices too and
when he said that he couldn’t clean some of the panes at the rear
of the house as it was too slippery to put up the ladder, I deducted
a percentage of the cost.
That was bold of you, she remarked, but what did he say?
He said he wanted a cup of coffee then, with four sugars.
They all are, I agreed. Different if you offer. Then I thought
that as coffee is expensive, I’d charge him £2.50 for every cup
that he wheedles out of me.
Good idea, she said. That’s quite cheap compared to here.
You could sprinkle some cocoa powder over it and call it a
Mocha and charge him one pound more. Or, –now she was
becoming excited – you could put a few mini-marshmallows
on top and have your windows done for free. Unless we have
more quantitative easing, we will all be going back to barter.
Imagine Kirstie Allsopp’s next programme. She is capable of
showcasing herself as a kind of expert on haggling: ‘If I give you
a crotcheted egg warmer, will you replace the tile on my
There have already been quite a few programmes where
so-called celebrities try to hassle people to give away their
goods for next to nothing, I observed.
Yes, and apparently, when the shop owners and dealers see the
television cameras coming now, they lock their premises, or flee.
Hmm..I replied. I don’t think barter would work somehow. Even
for Kirstie. I think it would alienate my window cleaner. He told me
he could get £40 per hour elsewhere if I didn’t want him to come any
more. I replied that qualified and experienced invigilators of public
exams with multiple degrees and years of teaching experience earn
less per hour than a Suttonford dog walker. I was trying to get him
to be reasonable.
So did it have an impact?
I don’t know, but I felt better when I only put three spoonfuls
of the old Demerara into his mug.
Do you think that you are becoming bitter? she asked, sipping
at her Americano.
No, I have just reached the age when I could teach my grandmother
to suck eggs and, if I look as if I have sucked a lime, well, it may be
the last opportunity I have had before I eschew the little blighters for
Well, be careful, Carrie advised. Remember George Formby. In his
song he made the point that window cleaners get to see a lot. They
could blackmail people. Here, for instance, neighbours would
love to know if you hadn’t made the beds by ten o’clock.
Do you make yours by then? I asked.
Don’t be silly, she said. My cleaner makes ours.
Don’t you worry that she will gossip about all your business?
Of course not. We pay her protection money.
So, maybe my coffee bribe is a good idea?
I’d say so. And, if you want to be kept out of the town limelight,
a Christmas bonus would be a good idea too. Make a tangible
commemoration of the anniversary of his first visit and offer to
carry his buckets and chamois to the van.
Maybe I will just do them myself from now on. Then I can afford
the odd spurt of acidic. In fact, I feel a large G and T coming on
at the very thought.
Anyway, if you think about it, it rains so much nowadays, that
there’s little point in doing them at all, mused Carrie.
I’ll drink to that! I said. After all, Jane Austen and Dorothy
Wordsworth weren’t known for their sparkling windows.
They weren’t known for wasting their time, writing silly