My trip to the shops for milk.

Part one

I didn’t think such a trip could be so poignant, well it wasn’t really but it captured me enough to sit here and remember it.

I pulled up at the studio this morning to find it pretty much as I was expecting: locked, empty and deathly quiet. Coming in the front doors I had the usual pause as I contemplated my next steps – straight up to my studio space?, through into the kitchen? or stop by at the computer room? I contemplate it every time but actually everyday usually runs the same. Switch computer on, then through to the kitchen to make a cuppa while it’s starting up, but annoyingly, although not uncommonly I find no milk. What is very rare is the absence of the three days out of date, sickly sweet, and sends your throat into spasms as you take a whiff one. So my day begins refreshingly absent of the sniff test.

Following this, back in the computer room, spinning the stiff old chair into position I carry on with my next step, tea-less. User name, connect to internet….dial (should we still be ‘dialling’? Isn’t dial-up years old?) Anyway, waiting…50/50 chance, and no ‘error 507 port blah, blah, blah not detected, blah, blah, blah….redial?’ I know that from experience restart is my only option. Restart….whilst I sit and stare at it. Typically, I feel like this morning is going to be a non-starter, 10am already…….. ok check yahoo (no mail), check other email (no mail), check Facebook (one go on Scrabulous to take, so take)

Then my turning point comes…I decide to head for the shops at a leisurely pace, clear my head and start the whole morning again when I get back. Off I go…

The weather is perfect (or just how I like it). No wind or even a breeze, just warmth that is so light you can’t feel you’re outside. I could almost put my slippers on and be in my living room, perfect weather for taking my time and thinking. I trundle a long, there are a few people over at the park as I walk through, lady on the far side walking her dog, man at the far side just entering from the other side. As I pass him I pay particular attention to the dog. A grey hound-‘rescued I wonder’, then strangely think, I wonder if this man lives like a slob, I bet his house is a mess (maybe because of him being largely over weight) what an assumption?!!!

(continued on previous post)…


part two

…I then continue, ‘houses not actually as rough as I would of thought for this side of town.’ As I approach I scan the row of shops…hairdressers ‘Shall I just go in and get it all cut off?’, Tanning shop….’Oh I need a tan’, Haberdasheries, ‘I don’t believe it…I traipsed all over town the other week looking for a place that sells thread, well must remember for future’ and then nisa for my milk. Wander round, get my milk, bump into a lady, ‘Oh sorry’, she too says sorry like it was her fault but it was clearly mine. Wait at the till for a lady with a young boy to be served. Another woman chats to her just off from the till….’Does she know her?’ ‘Is she mad?’ They discuss having their kids at home for the summer…’what a pain’ the boy makes some brum noise, taking no notice of the fact that his pain in the arse presence is being discussed. The lady serving smiles a lot and shows agreement at the conversation. The other woman leaves…abruptly it seems. I see her walking away muttering to herself (definitely bit nuts!) The lady finishes and takes her stuff and off she goes. My turn… Asks me ‘would you like a bag?’ ‘No’ I feel a little sense of pride. I give the exact money and feel a little more pride. 51p…and I’ve got it exactly. (go me!) She calls me darling and seems so happy at her place in life. I reflect on this as I leave. ‘How are some people so content with what they have?’ I feel it’s admirable…is it? Heading back with a cold finger around the handle of my milk I feel something like achievement, yet don’t acknowledge it really. A man chats to a couple walking in front…’does he know them? Is he mad? He doesn’t look it.’ He gets nearer to passing me; I don’t know whether to say hello or not. ‘Will it make me feel good?’ He bounds by, looks and says ‘milky!, milky!’ I laugh and that’s it…I’m a bit stunned actually, but it genuinely makes me smile. I carry on down to the park. There’s the man with the grey hound coming back out. ‘Shall I smile at him?’ I half look, half not. Suddenly he blurts out…’All that way for milk, and you could of had it delivered to your door!’ I laugh and that’s it, thinking inside…’what? and miss all this?!’ ‘It’s not about the milk really is it?’ Isn’t it the journey? I reflect on something connected to the Jerwood Drawing prize and my failure to get in. ‘It’s not about getting in but the journey’

You find consolation in the strangest places if you really need to.