Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fishing for strawberries

What I like about you, Jo, one of my friends said recently-ish, is that you're a constant in a changing world.

I considered how to take this, and decided that it was a compliment. I wouldn't say I don't change, but it's true that I evolve slowly. I think about things long and hard before I decide where I stand on them, and when I've decided where I stand, I stand firm until convinced otherwise. 

I prefer to wear things out than to throw them away. I have a pair of socks that I've had since I was 11. My lucky pants are 23 years old (and still lucky!), and I still wear a Lynx T-shirt ("it takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat, but only one to wear it") that was a 21st birthday present. I bought my green vegetarian Doc Martens in 1993 and they're still going strong.

I'm ridiculously brand loyal. I've had one mobile phone provider and three handsets (all Nokia) since 1995. I've never changed utility or landline provider, though that might change since the bastards have started charging me for the privilege of receiving a bill in the post. All my butter is Lurpak, all my washing powder is Ecover, all my lip balm is Blistex. I do my research, and when I find something I like, I stick with it. I had a minor panic on Tuesday when I tried to go to the Body Shop to buy some perfume (White Musk, since 1984 -- I've tried a few others but always go back) and it wasn't there any more (the shop, not the perfume -- but fortunately it's just moved round the corner).

I don't like waste and I try to see things through. I had my first car for 14 years. I generally finish books, and bottles of shampoo. I remember more than I let on. I never forget a favour, but I can hold a grudge forever. (The safest thing is not to meet me at all). The mainstays of my personal politics -- feminism, vegetarianism, socialism -- have changed very little in the last 20 years. When I was 17, I knew I would never get married, I knew I would never vote Tory, and I knew I would never eat steak. And I haven't.

That's not because I *wouldn't*, if that was the right thing for me to do. But it never has been. I think I was lucky, in that I more or less knew who I was a long time ago. I've grown older and grown up a lot, been more places, done more things, met more people, had more thoughts, tried more products, gained things, lost things, but nothing fundamental has changed. I don't see myself as a fixed point of reference, but I guess I can still be a place from which to take bearings. I think this is probably a good thing,

I learnt about a summer fruit thing you can do this weekend, but I've forgotten what it's called. You start it off with early season soft fruit, like strawberries: put them in a big pot, soak them in alcohol, like grappa, and put a weighted plate on top to squash them down. As the summer progresses, you add other fruit, in layers -- raspberries, cherries, plums etc, with more alcohol, and keep the plate on. By the end of summer you've added the blackcurrants, and you've got something that will give you boozy fruit all winter.

Maybe that's what I'm like. Maybe that's what we're all like -- the blackcurrants are the most visible bits, but the strawberries are still there underneath. 

joella

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