Clean myself: 0
Monkey see, monkey do: 0
Believe in God? Y/N: invoked, therefore Y
Since when were contorni referred to as sides? Even Marks & Spencer do it now. It’s one of those words that someone in marketing brought back from their holidays in America and now every shitty business has adopted it and forced it into the shopper’s lexicon.
My last day of independence for a while, I was trying to buy a ready meal – is that what they’re called? – one where all the cooking’s done for you and you just heat it up. You get a starter, a main dish, a pudding and a bottle of wine for under six guineas. It’s made in Chad, and most of it is derived from the offal of reptiles but it’s jolly good value. Most of the options on display looked far worse than you could make at home, had you the know-how, technique, ingredients, and I cannot stress this part of it too strongly, the will to do so. I had chosen a lamb shank, universally acknowledged to be an awkward dish to do yourself on account of it not being seen on any TV shows – it’s a bit too Northern Casserole-ish sounding I suppose. Like Hot Pot. They don’t do that either. They must be perceived as a lower orders thing by TV executives – until earthy-bucolic comes back round in fashion again, of course.
I take my dignity in my hands and engage the assistant. ‘There is no vegetable dish to go with this.’
She replies, ‘have you looked through the sides?’ and I tell her that’s what I’ve been doing for the last half hour and that all of them are inappropriate. She helps me trawl through the options again but I can tell that she doesn’t know what they are and what they do.
‘What about this?’ she asks, showing me a Mediterranean vegetables with a basil dressing. I didn’t answer but I think I conveyed negativity.
‘The thing is,’ she says, ‘you won’t get the meal deal, if you don’t take a side.’
I thank her, and I turn to thank God that I am not made of what makes her.
Perhaps that is an answer, to know that. I could apply for a job to manage people like her. The enthusiasm evaporates before I reach the end of the thought. My CV does not describe the person that I know me to be. You need to forge opportunities from within, trade up on the back of jobs, one acting as currency and proof of competence for the next, and so on. A change of direction can only be countenanced with a straight-A record and I took my exams when straight-As were tough for the feckless. We lived before those times when you got a C for turning up, and an A for having a go at every question. I don’t even meet the minimum criteria to apply for a job as supermarket manager. I’ll be swept from the in-tray of a first-jobber human resources executive before she even considers my analytical skills and the ability to work well in a team whilst at the same time being a self starter.
I have invoked God, so today He gets a Yes. All hail St Peter, who is said to be looking after me.