I've lived in a village for a year now. I'm getting the hang of it. My sister and her husband were coming for coffee so I took a wander up to the Farm Shop to buy a better class of biscuit. Not quite as bad as my friend who cleans under the floorboards before his mother visits but you know, standards. I went on a circular ramble starting with the Inconvenience Store (it's not their chosen name but it is how they make customers feel if we interrupt their phone calls) to get a paper.
On the way I catch up with a guy I know who is taking his dog for a walk. They were going slowly so I had to work out how I was going to greet them as I overtook. This is the sort of thing that bothers people who have dreadful social skills.
I know where the dog walker lives and so we chatted about the weather (forecast rubbish; local knowledge good) for the fifty yards before his turn off. I then made my apologies and picked speed up again towards the shop. He didn't turn off.
At the shop I pulled the door which looks like a puller but you should push and getting it wrong makes a crash. I get it wrong about every third time. There is no helpful information written on the door. I said Good Morning to Mr Inconvenience, a man who seems to enjoy his customer's distress. I got my paper, spent twenty seconds working out how much washing liquid costs in a small village shop (extortionate, cheaper to drive to Waitrose) and then heard my dog-walking friend at the counter. I did what all social introverts would do and hid in the household products aisle until he had gone. Then I purchased my paper and asked:
Do you have any AA batteries?
(A pack of AA batteries is placed on the counter without word or gesture.)
I left the shop and adjusted my pace so as not to overtake dog-walker before he reached his road although I tried to get close enough to see what newspaper he had under his arm to aid future conversations. I always like saying 'You shouldn't believe everything you read in the Telegraph' to Telegraph readers who are invariably amazed I know what they read. Sadly, he had it rolled too tightly under his arm. It was broadsheet and not pink though. I think I know.
On to the Farm Shop for the biscuits. Also some mozzarella for tonight's supper dish. I quickly find the biscuits but the lovely K rescues me from running my eye down the cheese selection for a third time. She greets me by name and asks what I am looking for. This is how a convenience store should work.
I tell K that I haven't seen her for a while. Apparently she has changed her days to Tuesdays and Wednesdays so it must be Tuesday or Wednesday today. It's not something I need to know these days.
Turns out she had just taken all the mozzarella off the shelves because it was past its display by. I say I don't mind and she pops to get it. Turns out she, and the shop, would get in big trouble if a bolshy customer reported them for selling stock beyond its display by date so, even though she knows I am not bolshy (I'm not, don't listen to my friends), she insists on giving it to me for nothing. Maybe it makes up for all the times I have popped to the Farm Shop for some milk and come back with £20 worth of baked goods and cooked breakfast items. A man's gotta do.
I put some cash in the charity boxes to deal with my guilt. Also, I now see it is smoked mozzarella which is not what I want but by this time I cannot decline.
Later that evening I discover that smoked mozzarella risotto is delicious.
Village life. We have a system for reporting escaped livestock you know. You phone Tom.