I was reading in bed last night when a panic overtook me. It wasn’t an existential worry, a desperate regret or a fear of illness. I suddenly realised that I don’t have a gravy boat. The book I was reading mentioned a gravy boat and I felt a cold sweat as I realised I do not possess one. OK, I rarely eat meals with gravy; I’m a vegetarian. Who knows though? I’d hate to be caught out without one.
I find shopping a chore but am actually very good at it. I’m almost an oracle. You want to know where to buy a spotted neckerchief in mauve? A coffee table in the shape of Russia? A globe shaped drinks cabinet? An Art Deco dollhouse? I’m your man. Just ask. I’ll try my best. I suppose it’s my memory. I have a very good memory for some things (trivia mainly) and I spot stuff on my travels. They wedge in the murky recesses of my brain only to float back up when demanded.
I have a strange sense of needing to prepare. I should have been a Boy Scout. Their motto is “Be Prepared”. Unfortunately that’s the only Scout thing I liked. Hanging about with other children and doing outdoorsy stuff didn’t appeal at all as a child. I do feel a need to have things in the house in case of need. I have a cupboard full of picnic ware, various candles, kitchen implements galore. I have a latte maker (never used), a blender and a set of serving and casserole dishes which is unrivalled in the Western world. I have a nutmeg grater, a selection of cards for every occasion (birth, death, defeat, amputation, house move) and at least 40 mugs. You never know when you might be called upon to host a massive coffee morning.
My pill collection is quite impressive. Come to me with colic, diarrhoea, migraine, nausea or travel sickness and we’re good to go. My bag weight contributes to my sore neck. I have a vintage satchel which groans on my shoulder with the weight of items. Pens, novels, notebooks, tissues, pills, umbrellas, Swiss Army knife etc. You never know when you might need that handy little implement for getting a stone out of a horse’s hoof or might need to make a vital list. I suppose it relates to anxiety and control. If I’m prepared I can be in control. Sudden death or disaster will surely be less traumatic if I have a pack of Handy Andys in my bag.
The household paraphernalia is all the fault of Ikea. Entering Ikea, a mystical force comes down upon you and invades your brain. I suspect they drug the food or air. You enter that strange hinterland, a normal person, and leave a dribbling wreck. For a starter, you’re cut off from all sensible influence as you can never get phone reception in their giant shed. You then shuffle round following the prescribed route of arrows and woe betide anyone who deviates. It invokes small riots. Suddenly, at the peak of exhaustion, you enter “The Market Place”. A strange mindset comes upon you and you forget everything you ever knew.
Browsing through the goods you decide you need a set of Mason jars for your dried foods, a baking set for baking day, a jug for Pimms, a cocktail shaker for those lazy afternoons on the sun lounger. You desperately need a cake stand, a cheese board and a tea light holder. In short, you believe in a life you don’t have. You lose the ability of reason; the ability to think: I don’t cook, am teetotal, never sunbathe and lighting tea lights is a total ball ache. I still buy them
I think I’ll go and look at my griddle pan now. It’s just a shame I forgot to buy any food to cook on it. Food is a frippery, you can do without that. It’s good to have pristine never used cookware though.