Thursday, December 29, 2011

Don’t ignore life’s modest glories: let’s hear it for toast!

It isn’t often that I can report encouraging developments in my life given that a regular pastime at my age is deciding what hymns I should like sung at my funeral, the order of service, that kind of thing. But there has been one which has cheered my up enormously. Incidentally, don’t laugh at my preoccupation with my funeral – these things are important. The thought that Abide With Me might be sung when they put me to rest/burn me up – I haven’t yet decided – sends a shiver down my spine. Broadly, it will run something like this: Lacrimosa from Mozart Requiem in D minor once they have taken their places, followed by whoever is in charge telling everyone what a lovely, darling, darling chap I was (although, of course, remorselessly heterosexual), then Scarlatti’s sonata in F minor, and then as the coffin disappears to the furnace or everyone files out the last movement of Mozart’s very last symphony, No 41. After that everyone can bugger off and get pissed at my expense.

As for the latest, most marvelous development in my life, it started like this. For several months now, I’ve noticed that sitting on the fridge next to the desk where Suzie, the features execs’ secretary, works is a toaster. And I had always assumed it was for the sole use of the execs, although to be honest I had never actually see any of them eating a piece of toast. But one day, chancing my arm (or so I thought, as the execs are a clannish bunch and, for example are very proprietorial about their TV so that it is wisest and most certainly diplomatic to ‘ask permission’ when I want to switch it onto a Champions League match. Even if it is switched on, the set is often turned towards their desk so that I can’t see it, and to add injury to insult, the execs will not even glance at the screen for the whole match) I asked Suzie whether there were any restrictions on the use of the toaster or whether it was subject to an open access policy. Oh, she said, use it if you like. And then she added something which strengthened my arm a great deal. ‘It’s not very fast, anyway.’ And there was my chance: I told her that in that case I would donate a new toaster to the department, and there and then I scooted of to Robert Dyas just up the road and bought one.

Don’t run away with the idea that I was in some way being rather generous and community spirited. None of it. As it is, in a sense, ‘my toaster’, I can use it whenever I like and avoid any silly scenes about access had I been using they former toaster ‘as a favour’. But the beauty of it is that had I decided that I should like to eat buttered toast whenever I wanted to and had brought the toaster into work, I would have been regarded as rather eccentric. But now I can eat buttered toast whenever I want. Why doesn’t the chap simply go down to the canteen in the morning and get his toast there? I hear you ask. Simple: the bread they use is bloody awful sliced bread which tastes of nothing very much, and if the ‘butter’ available is actually butter, I’m a Dutchman. Not only does it taste bloody awful but it has an odd artificial yellow colour which would put you off even if the taste hadn’t previously put you off.

So I now go downstairs to the Health Food shop in the former Barker’s building (where most things are ridiculously overpriced, although not everything is), and invest in a loaf of bread. Then it is off to Tesco for a quarter pound of REAL butter (I prefer unsalted) and a jar of ginger preserve. And this bunny is very happy indeed. It is the small things in life which can make it all so pleasant. And a slice or four of hot buttered toast with ginger preserve hits the button every time.

Two pieces of buttered toast rather like the toast I am now regularly enjoying eating at my desk at work. Aren’t some people very, very lucky

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