Bananas, eggs, milk and trout.
Time was I didn’t need an excuse to leave the house and stroll up to The High Street, but just now I find myself dreading the prospect and putting it off for another day or until I have someone to walk with.
Why the sense of dread?
Well partly it’s the time of year; shortening days, the clocks going back and the low Autumnal sun that shines like an anglepoise lamp in the eyes.
But for the most part I’ve learned to live with these factors. No it’s a profusion of newer perils that make the 800-metre journey to the community market and back feel increasingly like a real-life game of Donkey Kong.
In general I wait for the school run traffic to clear. It’s not so much the procession of fat four-wheel drives blocking roads and walkways but the stream of wobbly toddlers on scooters hurtling down the pavements, distantly pursued by parents who will blame anyone but themselves for the inevitable accidents. It’s just too nerve-racking to contemplate.
And though the daylight is ticking away I’ll wait another hour for the dog-walkers to disperse into the nearby park. Better the occasional turd underfoot than being snapped at by Fido for carrying a stick I won’t throw.
So now the coast is clear….ish. I tap my way along my street alert for lamp-posts, which have the courtesy not to reposition themselves overnight and recycling bins, which, like Daleks, are evilly mobile and designed to cause maximum impediment to the human race. Talk about street litter!
At some point I’ll have to cross the road. Here the game changes and the stakes are higher. Electric cars – or silent death as I prefer to think of them – are an increasing feature of our streets and I know that my green heart should rejoice. But in a noisy urban environment they are inaudible, a fact their drivers all-too-often forget.
If I don’t get squashed and have counted my steps correctly I will have avoided the worst of the clutter on the High Street. If not I’ll have the tables and chairs of half a dozen pavement cafes to negotiate. Like the now ubiquitous sandwich boards outside practically every shop, this is a sign of how our pavements are being co-opted into retail space.
But there’s no time to worry about that now, I’m on the alert for Cybermen (and women). Those zombified individuals so hooked into their devices that they march down the street oblivious to anything not displayed on its screen or played through its headphones. That anyone should choose deliberately to blind and deafen themselves to the world around them amazes me. That, like some car drivers, this insulation often leaves them aggressively defensive of their right to proceed unimpeded, scares me.
Fortunately, today my Donkey Kong adventure has left me unscathed. At home, as I open the milk for a well-earned cup of tea, my heart sinks – I forgot to buy bananas.