on meercats, Marmite and other matters

I ran out of Marmite this morning. This has no precedent. No one runs out of Marmite. Jars sit on kitchen shelves for years, thin layers scraped onto toast in such minuscule quantities that they get passed on from generation to generation. The emptied jar may well have been full on my first visit to Manuel House in 1977. I went to Sainsbury's immediately. I needed butter and orange juice as well, but the Marmite was paramount. Like the ravens of the tower, I was convinced the kitchen would collapse without any yeast extract.

I hate supermarkets. Loathe them. My hypocrisy and myself quarrel endlessly about the situation and in the end my hypocrisy wins and I wind up in Sainsbury's. There's not much else Linlithgow has to offer.

I grabbed a basket and wondered over to the organic section and saw red.

Well, pink actually. My least favourite so-called-holiday arrived early. It was a stand of Valentine's Day cards. There were no nearby staff to throttle and harass for having such a heinous and garish display next to organic fruit, so I fumed inwardly. Not before staring at it for a moment, opening and closing my mouth in silence, somewhat like a guppy. A braver, more antisocial individual would have pulled it down in rage, but I'm a big wuss. And getting barred from Sainsbury's is a bit juvenile. Aldi yes, Sainsbury's no.

Recovering from the shock and muttering terrible words under my breath I picked up my shopping.

My thoughts had been drifting around the harmony of the universe and the future of the human race. Like a Christmas carol in October, the pink monstrosity ripped me from any optimism I had regarding human and planetary advancement and left me spitting bile at how shallow, dreadful and awful our species is and the sooner as an asteroid takes out Hallmark and all else the better. Hopefully whatever species survived and achieved sentience in our wake would have better sense than to celebrate a bullshit faux romantic holiday with the same initials as venereal disease (a joyous irony, nes pas?).

This sense of disgruntlement abated with the joys of posting a couple of letters. The girl who works at the local post office is quite possibly one of the most beautiful women on the planet. I'm not kidding. This is not hyperbole. She is. What on earth she's doing running the shit-hole post office in Whitecross is beyond me.

Once, I had a terrible crush on a barmaid in Ogston's in St Andrews (now the Gin House and lacking any character). It was one of those amazing crushes that reverts the bearer of it to the stammering stupidity of a schoolboy in a playground. One fine afternoon I bought a pint from this aphrodite of the beer pumps and was delighted that I had exact change as, in our limited relationship of customer and server, it was the greatest courtesy I could bestow. I felt gallant. I acted, however, like a gibbering idiot, waiting for change. She stared at me for a second as I beamed with an open palm. "You gave me exact change."

My demeanour with the pretty girl at the post office is far more cool and collected. I can order stamps and everything.

Last night I paid for my complacency with nature documentaries. UKTV History spoiled me with hours upon hours of Attenborough at his finest explorations of life on earth. Blue Planet, Planet Earth, The Life of Birds - nature at its most beautiful, narrated with composure and authority. The man is an institution.

Flicking the channels last night I stumbled upon Meercat Manor. If Blue Planet and Planet Earth are the pre-Murdoch Times of nature docs then Meercat Manor is The Sunday Sport. Bill Nighy narrates as though telling a dirty joke. It's hysterical. He actually uses the line "He's not coming to make war... he's coming to make love!" about a meercat. I laughed so hard I scared the cats. I almost expected him to scream "Yeah baby!" as the meercats mated.


This duck deserved to live.