It's the time of year when our cars/vans etc all seem to be due their annual M.O.T.s (roadworthiness tests, for those not resident in Britain). Today was the turn of the Ford Transit so, having had it checked out by our local garage man, I duly trundled it down to the Kendal industrial estate and sat reading newspapers and doing crosswords for an hour before the hostages (the pass certificate and keys) were returned to me in exchange for my fantastic plastic. £50 quid lighter, but glad I didn't have to arrange for a re-test, I trundled back homewards via the supermarket. Gleefully I occupied four parking bays ... well, two and two quarters, to be precise ... surrendered a pound coin to the release thingy on a trolley and off I went.
I shop only rarely in Kendal (it is 15 miles south and I work 40 miles north of my home) and it seems that every time I go into Morrisons they have moved the things I want to somewhere else. This makes shopping more akin to foraging. I start off with a list, and end up with a headache. Fish and flowers are no trouble as they are always near the entrance. Fruit and veg ditto, except that I get mine from my friend Mr "No-Relation-To-Del-Boy" Trotter, where we conduct our business in civilised fashion over a mug of coffee, a ginger biscuit, and a discussion of the weather, horses and whatever is showing on TV when I call.
It's after bakery that I begin to fall down. What used to be tights and knickers is now toothpaste and baby food. Jams and tinned fruit have turned into household maintenance and car polishes. And what has happened to raspberry yogurt? I haven't seen a raspberry yogurt since January. I've been told that raspberry yogurt costs more to make. I don't understand why this should cause a shortage since here it is, another good raspberry season, and when I finally ran the dairy section to ground there was no lack of strawberry or other soft-fruit flavours.
Worryingly, Red Leicester cheese was also playing hard to get. Foreign cheeses I could find in abundance: Brie, in French or Somerset varieties, Emmenthal, Lierdammer, Gruyere, Camembert, Danish Blue, and plenty of chunks of bulk-buy Cheddars with full fat or reduced fat content; but the local makes, Cheshire, Stilton, Leicester, Double Gloucester, Caerphilly, were doing the equivalent of panto audience interaction: hiding coyly in opaque, one-size-fits-all packaging, or else "be'ind yer!" in the deli section.
By the home baking shelves, a lady was having the same "oh no it isn't" problem; she was looking for syrup and treacle, a reasonable brace of sticky ingredients to expect alongside sugar and flour, dried fruit and marzipan.
"Perhaps they're in the jam section?" I suggested. "I'm looking for cocoa myself."
"Ah no," she said, "dark chocolate and white chocolate and milk chocolate, you'll find them here, but cocoa's over that way, with tea and coffee."
I'd been there. I went and looked again, but I never did find it. Clearly the Genie of the Lamp had been there before me. It can't POSSIBLY be my age.