Sunday, February 08, 2009
sarcocca, oil, ballet
Snow on Sarcocca buxacaea, the odoriferous shrub which I mentioned the other day. It smells of horses, and you smell it before you see it. The little white flowers are, apart from their scent, not very impressive. Because the shrub originates in the Himalayas it is hardy in our winter and flowers about now. The flowers appear at the same time as the plant's single, black berries.
The price of crude oil is often in the news. Not so much cooking oil - corn oil and the like. For people who take shopping seriously, in hard times such as these, however, the price of corn oil can still matter. "The branded oil is cheaper than the own-brand," says a woman to me out of the blue in the supermarket. " Strange !""Strange indeed," say I, because I love the word "strange". Strange interests me. In the present parlance, I do strange. "It's only 4p difference, but it's the principle," she says, and places a litre of Mazola corn oil in her trolley.
As I wait on the far side of the check-outs for the friends, who give me a lift to Sainsbury's on Sundays, I reflect, on the extraordinary dance being performed. Customers unload their purchases on to conveyors at top speed, pressed on by the queues behind them; the cashiers check the goods and back go the goods to the customer to be bagged and returned to the trolleys. And off the trolleys trundle, some loaded with children as well as shopping bags, off to the car park.The dance is continuous and repetitive. The performance is helped by the random orchestration of cash machines, which acknowledge, with rapid, mindless bleeps, the speed and efficiency of money and goods changing hands. It is all chillingly hypnotic: a ballet for the 21 st century
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The check-out is a good place for observing whether or not a customer has grasped the supermarket imperative: in and out in the shortest possible time. A branch of what the French call la manutention. And what we called it, for that matter.
Love your description of the 21st ballet... the everyday act as an art form.
All that is needed is a composer and choreographer. The name of the ballet? La Manutention, sounds avant garde enough. A chorus or troupe of chariots a fourche would add colour.
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