Friday, 11 September 2009

All That Glitters

I’ve run out of organic carrots. But, lucky for me, Portobello Wholefoods is only down the road. I’m in there every other day for selenium, resveratrol, Green & Black’s, almond milk, umeboshi vinegar, organic sweet potatoes, brown rice and so on. The list of expensive health foods and supplements that I choose to require is pretty long. A few weeks ago I offered the owner a second mortgage on my flat, just to be done with it. But she declined so I continually have to come up with cash to feed my habit.

My advice to you, if you’re in a position to invest, is to buy futures in organic almond milk. The price jumps by about 7% a month (upward, of course). It’s a better bet than crude oil.

I tuck £20 into my purse for carrots and set off into the sunshine.

Two blocks down the road is a notorious haberdasher’s called Temptation Alley. For years it was like a junkyard, piled not with hub caps and rusty springs but with ribbons and frills. It was a place where old sequins went to die. But no more. The proprietors have cleaned up their act. Over many months they have systematically disassembled and restructured thirty years worth of passementerie pandemonium. Where once was a riot of multi-hued trimmings now one can find disciplined ranks of ric-rac and phials of beads organised in colour coded rows.

As I pass, the girl who works there on the weekends pops her head out. “Psst,’ she mouths, “They found a box of sequinned patches in the garage. Nobody else has seen them yet.” She may be young but she’s already developed the persuasive patter of the seasoned dope dealer. I waver for a moment on the doorstep and then, in one stride, I’ve crossed the line.

Sure enough, at the bottom of an up-to-the-ceiling pile of blue plastic bins lies the blue plastic bin containing the mother-lode. There are emerald green sequinned roses, fuchsia and turquoise parrots, sky-blue beaded leaves. I begin systematically working my way through the blue bin, pulling out every piece that takes my fancy and organising them on the bin lid in neat rows and piles – according to colour, what works with what, which could go on jumpers, which on skirts and so on. I pull out a beaded spray of chrysanthemums and lay it next to a glittering golden eagle. I have soon amassed an empire of sequinned patches. I’m completely absorbed in the hunt. If a passer-by were to look in right now they would observe a woman with the mad staring eyes of a prospector who has endured one too many winters in the bleak Klondike.

I fix the weekend girl with my mad staring eyes. “How many can you do for twenty quid?” I croak.

There will always be carrots tomorrow.