Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Pickles, schmickles.

Walking around Morrison’s last Sunday I was struck by a sudden fatigue. We had just been swimming, the youngest children were in the car being cared for by the eldest and Hubby had a face on him.
“You might like to adjust your hair”, he suggested as we walked into the shop. I glanced at my reflection and nearly jumped in fright. He had a point but what could I do now? It was scraped into some sort of pony tail, although more piggy than pony to be fair and dripping down the back of my shirt. My fringe was plastered like Bobby Charlton across the top of my head, and loose tendrils, hanging down either side of my face looked less Julie Christie and more orthodox Jew.
I attempted to rake my fingers through it to tidy it up but Hubby’s helpful comment of “I wouldn’t bother love” stopped me short.
So, sinking in shame over the trolley, I pushed whilst Hubby manfully hunted and gathered comestibles. The thing is Hubby does this once in a blue moon and, considering the fact that I cannot remember the last time I spotted a blue moon then, by implication, it’s been quite some time since Hubby has wandered around a supermarket and has no idea of not only the amount we need but ultimately the cost.
My choice of organic milk was over-ruled in favour of gallons of ordinary semi-skimmed. The butter and yogurt were also ‘value’ as well as crisps and biscuits.
“See how much money we could save if only you didn’t buy brand names and poncy organic stuff?”
“Yes dear”. I decided to be acquiescent only because I always shop without him and he has no idea, generally speaking, of the luxury items that reside in my cupboards and so, with thanks to Rick Stein, I have saffron, harissa, preserved lemons, Noilly Prat and vanilla extract and pods to hand at any given moment.
“What else do we need?” he asked, clearly fed up now and wanting to go home.
“I have a list”, I said, drawing from my handbag with magician like flair, a scroll as long as your arm.
“Oh God”, moaned Hubby.
“This list contains all we need for my Christmas home baking” and with each kilo of sultanas, raisins, currants and mixed peel I chucked into the trolley, I ticked the list triumphantly.
“Right that’s the dry ingredients; we just need the booze now”
“What about pickled onions?”, he asked, as though pickled onions were somehow synonymous with festive home baking.
“What about them?”
“Ooh Boxing Day. Cold cuts, bubble and squeak, salad, cold bread sauce, chips, chutney and pickled onions.” He sounded like one of those pervy, ‘Suits You’ men from the Fast Show. Was the idea of a pickled bloody onion turning him on? It was a worry.
“But there are jars of them on these shelves in every vinegar, from Shiraz to Jerez. Why bother?”
“It won’t be the same unless they’re homemade” and he dashed off to find a bag of pickling onions before I had the chance to call after him ‘wife made’.
Just as I entered the booze aisle rooting for the cheapest French brandy, Mags came dashing around the corner looking as always, a million dollars.
“Jeeze Alice where have you been?”, she exclaimed.
“Swimming” I answered flatly.
“Swimming? You look as though you’ve been dragged by the hair though the filter system” and she laughed, only not very heartily as her Botox has yet to wear off and so any facial expression is a big effort for her.
“Well thanks for that”, I replied. Hubby returned from ‘Vegetables’ carrying a two kilo net bag of little onions, dropped them in the trolley and proceeded to drown himself in Mag’s lustrous hair and expensive perfume.
“Cor Mags, you smell gorgeous, better than municipal chlorine eh love?” he added, yanking my wet pig tail.
“Hm”, I smiled, grimly.
“So what are you doing here on a Sunday?” I asked, as it was unusual to see Mags waste a weekend day in a supermarket.
“I’ve just been to Pilates and dropped in for a bottle of wine on the way home, but there are a lot of bargains and I thought whilst I was here I’d get my Christmas Cake. Then I saw the puddings and all the mince pies and, as I’ve got so many people coming for Christmas I thought I’d buy them in. Saves me looking puce and harassed on Christmas day doesn’t it?”
“Alice favours the puce and harassed look, don’t you love? She even wears her pinny at the table”. For some reason this was hysterical to them both and I wanted to scream, “But I’m the one lugging pots and pans and stirring gravy and turning spuds, before calling everyone to the table.” The ‘everyone’ is either a bit tight having been at the sherry or brandy since dawn, or high as kites having been munching Quality Street from even earlier, consequently I don’t have time to look like Nigella, all radiant in cashmere just as dinner is served.
“You really ought to give yourself a break Alice”, said Mags, “Buy mass produced”.
“Ok. Shall I take the onions back?”, I suggested to Hubby. He looked crestfallen.
“Don’t be hasty. I like homemade”. Which is why, atop my shelves, I have a two pound cake waiting to be decorated, a pudding waiting to be re-steamed, chutney and six jars of pickled onions. My fingers are so brown from the skins that I look as though I have sixty a day habit and I cried for a full twenty minutes my eyes stung so. I did ponder on asking Hubby whether he’d prefer me hot and bothered on Christmas Day yet with everything homemade or, a glamorous, shiny wife who couldn’t give a damn that her Christmas food was produced ‘shoreside’. I chickened out. I know the truth and the truth hurts...


Lisa said...

Yikes! Well first, my husband hasn't been in the grocery store for ages either, and I'm just happy he has no clue as to the cost of my pantry!
LOL with the Botox not wearing off, I was picturing Patsy from AbFab!
You're much nicer than me, the onions would have ended up somewhere my husband may not get excited about!

Sally Lomax said...

My hubby only knows the way to the Bogoffs. Organic would give him a heart attack.

Nigella has paid staff.....

Mary Alice said...

"I like home made"...a telling comment. My husband won't eat a store-bought pie or cake, preferring mine. So I do all the cooking, and consequently look fairly awful when the dinner finally hits the table. My hair is all in a frizz, there is gravy on my sleeves and flour on my nose. But the food tastes good. It's one or the other I am afraid. Either Hotty McHott Hott wife or home-made. Having both are simply not possible on our salary, as it would require an extensive staff.

Domestically Challenged said...

Don't start me on this one -

.....darling, could you buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk on your way home...

.....he returns triumphant.....he's bought a dozen bottles of laundry liquid (on special offer), twenty packets of kettle chips (on special offer) and sixteen packets of loo roll (on special offer)....

...yes but where's the naffing milk? I scream.

Alice Band said...

Dearest Blog Friends,
I am heartened to hear that it is not only I who looks like a piece of shit when making dinner. I love all the Christmas mags with the perfect homes but it eludes me every year!!

Sally Lomax said...

Re the comment on my site.....
Don't feel abandoned AB!!!

We love you!

I think you probably have lots of readers. They just don't comment....

Leave some more comments on some blogs, and people will comment back...

And all those of you out there who are reading Alice but not speaking. Speak now!!

Lisa said...

I feel the same way! (About the comment on Sally's.)
Sometimes I look at my stats and only have 6 comments?! Huh. I guess I'm taking it a little too personal.

Anonymous said...

awwh alice! x x x

Anonymous said...


that was sally's ed btw!