Waiting in the village shop and I'm buying the odd bits and bobs, swiss-roll, cumin powder, a plunger and clothes pegs, you know, the usual, when in walks Mrs Hoity-Toity. You can tell she's well known at the local shop as she has 'an account'. Parked conveniently outside the front doors on the pavement, she is prepared for the weather. An ice-cold December wind whistles through the front door of the store, muddy, damp cardboard boxes adorn the walkways, but twinset and pearls is as impervious to the bitter cold as Jack Frost. Cold from the inside out. Smart tweed skirt and thick woolen tights, de rigeur Barbour boots, waxed raincoat accessorized with waxed safari hat. Blue and white ice adorn fingers on both hands, and drip daintily from earlobes. Don't judge, Duncan!
'Oh, we're having a catastrophe, it's Christmas Eve and we're having Roasted Suckling Pig tonight and we have guests over. Do you not have any apple sauce? There is none on the shelf? Why do you not have any apple sauce?' This sounds like a job for the village fool. 'Excuse me Madam', doffs cap and bows slightly. 'I happen to have made some stewed apples that I've got in my freezer, I'm sure you'd be able to defrost them in time.'
'Oh, that would be Maaarvelous'.
'I'll run home now and get them for you and meet you at the top of the lane, ma'lady'. Well be quick with you Dunc Cratchit, the lady will have business to conclude with the proprietors of this fine emporium I'm sure, never one to disappoint in reading some human behaviour. 'That would be wooonderful, where will I meet you? I'm about to leave now.'
'Yes, ma'am, I'll be right back, I'll meet you at the bottom of the lane, if you don't mind getting your tyres wet driving through the ford?.'
We rendezvous; shuffling nervously from foot to foot, clutching my cloth cap in both hands, a handy Poundland carrier bag containing the plastic potted apple sauce, swinging from my wrist. No need to get out of the car, I'll pass the goods through to you, no point you making human contact. Like a tramp's drug dealer, I furtively pass each tub of frozen goodness through the window cracked open just enough that she can be heard and to prevent any inadvertent hand touching. 'Is this the apple sauce?'. My thoughts and words swirl as I drift in and out of a trance of festive goodwill, 'Yes it is. I only live just down there (but once you've finished with my very inexpensive and cheap Tupperware containers please just leave them at the local store, if you'd be so kind), if it's not too forward I've left my business card incase you wanted to drop them back to me once you're finished if that's okay, not that I need them back, (please just keep them and forget the business card, it was silly really thinking that you'd even bother to say thank you), after all, (you've got the apple sauce and) and it is Christmas...
The window closes, the driver spurs the car forward, trotting off into the distance, possibly towards crackling fires, indulgently rolling in the spoils of her labours, devouring the fat of the land.
Here's a delicious recipe for apple sauce, not my own, those often get served as an ingredient in humble pie.