Janet (j4) wrote,

Recommended intake of shopahol

I often go to the Sidney Street Sainsburys for my lunch: it's enough of a walk to get me out of the office for most of my lunch-hour; I can come back with a Sainsburys bag, which signifies Necessary Food Shopping even if the contents consist entirely of snack-food and Blue Bolt (the half-price alternative to Red Bull); and there's a chance that they will stock my favourite sandwich, the Green Thai Prawn Wrap. (An acceptable substitute for this rare delicacy is the Green Thai Chicken Wrap.) There's also the temptation of sushi, which allows me to feel smugly cosmopolitan for wanting to buy sushi at all and simultaneously to feel smugly virtuous for resisting the unnecessary expense.

However, in recent weeks the availability of Green Thai Anything At All Wrap has been tending towards zero, and I've been forced to vary my menu. I've tried the ham, cheese and pickle wrap (a little too dense), the pasta, mushroom and pesto salad (a little too vinegary), the Peking Duck wrap (a little too bland, yet also somehow managing to leave a persistent aftertaste of hoisin sauce) and a variety of other lunch-related nonentities. I've even given in and bought the overpriced sushi, mostly (it must be admitted) for the sake of the dainty rituals it affords: dispensing soy sauce from the miniature plastic fish-shaped bottle, squeezing a sadly-inadequate quantity of wasabi from the tiny sealed sachet, and extracting the pieces of pink ginger (which somehow look more viscerally flesh-like than the carefully-opened prawn or the sliver of smoked salmon) from their pickling juices. The fallback lunch option, however, is always the excellent self-service salad-bar, where one can feel that one is not only choosing the Healthy Option but also getting Value For Money by cramming as much salad as possible into a tiny plastic container.

But not today. Today I arrived later than usual, around 1:40, only to find myself in a Mother Hubbard situation: the cupboard, or rather the refrigerated cabinet which normally contains sandwiches and salads, was well and truly bare. All that remained were a few small sushi selections, my habitual smugness concerning which felt a little hollow in the circumstances. Even the salad bar had been subject to this relentless resource-stripping, and while the rice-shaped-pasta salad to which I eventually resigned myself was quite pleasant, and well complemented by a tiny scraping of carrot, sultana and cumin salad, I would have liked a little more choice.

Food considerations aside, the length of the walk to Sainsburys also has the effect of taking me past a large number of tempting shops while not really allowing me sufficient time to browse them, thus satisfying window-shopping impulses but preventing excessive spending. Admittedly the likelihood of me actually spending money in Karen Millen is minimal (however stylishly tempting those herringbone trousers are, they will not flatter my stumpy legs and I couldn't afford them without remortgaging my kidneys), but the market's second-hand clothes stall (with its marvellous mixture of vaudeville and beigewear, retro and no-go) is an eternal temptation, and the adjacent book stall likewise; Claire's Accessories and Superdrug wave their cheap and cheerful tat so temptingly; there's always the risk of a dangerous detour into Borders (and while I can usually resist buying full-priced new books or CDs, the various bargain baskets and multi-buys and one-day-only offers on their frighteningly comprehensive stock may weaken my resolve; and even if I turn a blind eye to those, the shiny colours of Paperchase will almost certainly catch my eye); and then in the final moments of the walk, when willpower is wavering, there is the deadly double-whammy of Oxfam Books and Galloway & Porter.

Today I ran the retail gauntlet and resisted spending money anywhere except Sainsburys (and even there, I was restrained in my purchases). I did, however, receive email notification that the Richard Thompson CD I had ordered from eil.com (via Gemm) yesterday evening had just been dispatched, and that I had won the eBay auction for a book entitled "A Lifetime of Badgers". Sometimes online shopping is just too easy... and it doesn't even provide the opportunity for a walk.

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