Tag Archives: Parma Violets

A World of Tears

29 Oct

In this day and age, it’s difficult for small businesses to survive. Everyday a small shop or local service closes down because large corporations are taking over. Upsettingly, in the US, corporation personhood exists, where essential corporations have “rights,” and if Trump has anything to do with it, those who aren’t millionaires will find life even harder. This is crazy. When I was a child, we were taught to respect those people who set up their own little businesses—we bought our produce from a farmers’ market, we bought our dresses from a local seamstress and the very first cocktail I ever drank was produced by a neighbourhood bootlegger. Small businesses were at the heart of economy and the community, and I stand behind any campaign that supports them during this difficult time.

That said, if the man who runs the news agent’s at the end of my road does not change his attitude sharpish, I will do everything in my power to have his shop shuttered for good.

I am a reasonable woman and a reasonable consumer. I do not make ridiculous demands, and I accept that accidents do happen. I have visited the shop when his stock of Parma Violets was low. Occasionally, the clerk has given me imprecise change. Once, I had to wait nearly a quarter of an hour until the shop re-opened, even though the sign clearly said “Back in 10 minutes.” I have never complained about any of these things. Unfortunately, the owner has now taken things too far.

When I woke this morning, I came downstairs to enjoy my cup of tea, boiled eggs and wheat soldiers—lovingly prepared by Christopher—as I do every Sunday morning. As he had gone for a boys-only night out last evening, Christopher began to tell me of his adventures. I quickly grew bored and interrupted him to ask for my Sunday papers. This is when Christopher shared with me the devastating news: they had not been delivered. After recovering from the initial shock, I dressed and walked up to the news agent’s to see whatever could have been the problem. To be honest, I could only presume that some horrible disaster had occurred. What else could cause the man to have let down a loyal and lovely customer whom he knows relies so much on her daily newspapers?

A horrible disaster had occurred but it wasn’t a flood, fire or foul play, but an injustice beyond belief. I was told that the shopkeeper had not received my cheque; therefore, he told the paperboy to cease my delivery. Anyone with any sense knows that I always pay my debts. In fact, this man knows: I have been paying for newspaper delivery the 1st and 15th of every month for as long as I have lived in this village. However, despite my reputation of responsibility, when my payment was not there in his grubby little hands by the end of the day, he simply crossed my name off the list, as if I weren’t a person with hopes and dreams, as if I didn’t matter at all. And to add salt to the wound, I had visited the shop yesterday and had chatted with said man. Never once did he utter a word about the state of affairs. Had he done so, it would have taken just a matter of moments to explain that when I realised that I was out of sealing wax, I put a note on the table asking Christopher to purchase some when he dropped by the news agent’s to settle my account.  When he found out that they did not carry my preferred shade, he went on to another store, neglecting to pay the man.

Perhaps one could argue that Christopher was in the wrong. However, could one not also argue that the shopkeeper’s poor selection of sealing wax was ultimately to blame? Regardless, if this man’s conduct is indicative of the way other small businesses are run, it’s no wonder the world’s gone to hell in a handbasket.

Campaign for Real Taste

14 Feb

You’ve undoubtedly read about the brouhaha this week over a new “taste” being available for purchase in British supermarkets. It’s called umami,which apparently means “deliciousness” in some language or another.  A refined palette such as my own, of course, did not need Mr Waitrose to introduce me to this flavour: I’ve been familiar with it since Master Satõ Matsumoto and I first gorged ourselves on gherkins in that German beer garden oh so many years ago.  I do find the brand name and promotional material visually pleasing and have therefore sent Christopher out to purchase a tube, but primarily to display as an aesthetically gorgeous trinket, rather than as some breakthrough culinary ingredient.

For I do not accept that this so-called umami deserves to be championed as a “new taste.” (Friends, remember, just because Sky News reports something does not make it so.) Previously, our tastes were sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness.  Quite a bit of variety in there already, and despite its similar suffix, I just don’t think “deliciousness” fits in with the four classics. Personally, I believe we should stick with the originals and if you find yourself aching for a word to describe that olive-like, anchovy-ish, seaweedy flavour that this “new” taste supposedly embodies, may I suggest you simply use olive-like, anchovy-ish or seaweedy. They may not be found in the OED (yet), but you knew what I meant, and let’s just leave it at that.

However, if I were to propose a new taste, a true “No. 5,” I feel most strongly it should be Parma Violets. Think about it: now there’s a taste that is truly like no other.