I’m in a cafe that’s trying to strike a balance between casual and chic; it’s lit well, by both light from a large window and an unfussy chandelier. A raspberry and almond square sits on my plate, next to my mug of white tea, but my thoughts are with the raspberries that grace your shelves. I’m going to walk out of here and buy some to accompany tomorrow morning’s cereal, but that isn’t until half an hour later. This feels like leading the raspberry and almond square on, but I think the soft slice of cake knows it will always come second.
The blackberries I bought the week after Christmas nursed all my hangovers well. You’re thoughtful of not just what I want, but also what I need. It’s what keeps me faithful and coming back to you, despite the allure of Waitrose when you’re too far away.
Right next to the blackberries—your salad section—makes me go so weak in the knees that I have to stow my heels away in my handbag for that trip to the pub later in the evening. Now you know it isn’t because I’m not trying to look good for you. Further in my defense, I’ve always got lipstick on, and my hair is bouncy and fragrant. Noodles seductively curled under vibrant broccoli, or wild rice settled calmly under lush rocket leaves and voluptuous feta with juicy beetroot are very intimidating when I’m not feeling coquettish myself.
Every time I trail through “food on the move” and reach the readymade dinners, my heart and mind are caught in unendurable conflict: Thai curry with translucent flat noodles, or stodgy but satisfying mince pie? That elaborate aisle with twenty types of cheese does nothing to make decision-making easier.
The Leicester red and boxed shreds of parmigiano reggiano make me want to glide over to the wine section, and I almost always give in. As I run my fingers over the labels, I think and wish to myself that I had the strength to carry a dozen home at once. At times like these, I can sense you smiling, pleased with yourself for having silently defeated me.
I know I always jolt myself into thinking about tea biscuits at an intimate moment such as this one, but it’s only because I don’t want to end up forgetting about them. It wouldn’t be right to neglect the empty tin that sits expectantly inside the kitchen cupboard above the toaster.
As I pay up and realise I've made my bags heavier than I can manage to carry, which has become a very common practice despite my best efforts, I never really feel buyers' remorse. I leave the trolley in the common area and cast one last, loving glance your way, hoping to return the next week, and the week after.
It’s 4.12pm now. Time to pick up my coat and leave.