Sunday 29 August 2010

Real men use their fingers...

A camping shop in Cornwall. I am drifting up and down the aisle, brow furrowed in concentration. The shop is full of serious outdoor-living men, who are all shopping for serious outdoor-living equipment: tents that can survive a force 7 storm, rucksacks that can save your back from breaking in the event of a cliff fall, hermetically sealed bio-nutrient bars that will allow you to survive for days in the desert - that kind of thing.
I really feel quite out of place. I am not a serious outdoor-living type. I am not, in fact, any kind of  'outdoor living type'. I dislike mud and rain and nature; I much prefer the comforts of home: books, Nintendo, the Internet, ready access to Salt'n'vinegar Hula Hoops and a nice cheeseboard, soft toilet paper, etc etc.
Nonetheless, I am browsing in the camping shop, because it looks like it may be the only place for miles that has what I need: I am shopping for a knife.
I am also hoping I can find one with minimal fuss, quickly purchase it and then leave with no questions being asked: I really do not want to have to explain what I am doing in there in front of all the survivalist types. Sadly, the shop assistant has other ideas...
"Can I help you sir?" she asks. She is, as you may expect, also a serious-outdoor living type. She is broad and strong and tattooed - almost fearfully so. I suspect she may have been suckled by wolves.
"Um, no, that's all right..." I say.
"It's just that it can be bit hard to find things in here", she adds with cheerful persistence. "We carry so much stock.."
What the hell, I think, if I keep my query general enough it might speed things up...
"Where do you keep your knives?" I ask.
Her eyes light up. "Fishing or camping? she asks. I notice that some of the various survivalist types in the shop have overheard and are now taking a passing interest: I suspect that they all have a knife on them - they look the type. In fact, some of them look like they always sleep with a knife close to hand, and perhaps have even given that knife a pet name and like to talk to it at night.
"Um, camping? I think..." I manage to say.
She begins to lead me towards the display of lethal weapons I noticed beneath the glass counter when I first walk in. Sadly, I know this is not what I am looking for.
"Ah, no, I don't really need a sharp-bladed knife.." I say
The shop assistant pauses, confused. This obviously sounds like nonsense - why would I want a knife without a sharp blade? "What do you need a knife for, then,?" she asks.
Here it comes, I think. I clear my throat.
"I need it to spread houmos on bread," I say.
She looks at me blankly. I hasten to explain further:
"You see, my wife and children are outside - we are having a picnic. And my wife has brought this houmus, and also some nice brie, but forget to pack a knife. So I can't spread either of them on the bread she brought..."
The shop assistant continues to look at me as if I am raving mad.
"Of course, I can just tear the bread," I say, as if that somehow demonstrates my outdoor survival skills. "But you can't really spread houmos with your fingers...well, I don't think you can, anyway. My wife says I'm being fussy, but your shop was just here, and..."
"You want a picnic knife," the assistant says flatly, though the faint note of disdain in her voice is unmistakable.
"This way please..."
A few minutes later, I rejoin my wife outside. I notice that most of the houmos has already been eaten, as has a large proportion of the bread. My wife looks up at me expectantly, so I hold up my purchase: a large pack of bright yellow picnic cutlery which has cost me about three times what I was hoping to spend.
"What have you brought all that for?" she asks, puzzled.
"It was all they had. I figured we might use them again.On other picnics..."
She shrugs. "Normally I just bring our standard knifes if we need one."
"Yes," I agree, pointedly. "Normally you do..."

PS: Apparently that really is how you spell 'houmos' (or at least, one of the ways).  I still think it looks wrong, but then (and now you should brace yourself for some comedy gold)'s all Greek to me.


Kate Snape said...

Oh dear Bum Clown! My dear aunty is quite right, you are too picky!
Lots of love,
Your fellow Bum Clown,
Kate xxx

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you're thinking of quitting the blogosphere. Many thanks for the giggles you have provided over the last couple of years.

Antique ART Garden said...

Quite funny, all the trouble and humiliation and they have already eaten most of the bread. Such is life, Gina