The Duke - June 10, 2015

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I’m not an impulse buyer.

In fact I’m so far from being an impulse buyer that on the rare occasion that I do see something I quite fancy I dither for so long that it is inevitably snapped up by someone who doesn’t interpret the word “impulse” as meaning “put off deciding about for as long as possible.”

It means The Manager long since gave up shopping with me. On the one hand that’s no bad thing (“yes, it really suits you – for goodness sake buy it before it goes out of fashion”) but on the other it’s dangerous (“what on earth is someone your age doing buying something like that?”).

So with clothes I’m pretty much a desperation buyer – wear something out then buy a replacement as near to the original one as possible. So jackets and trousers are bought separately on a needs must basis. Mostly it works but I do take some credit for inspiring the title (though not the content) of bestselling 50 Shades of Grey.

With groceries however I’m not quite so reserved. How else do I explain the large tin of vine leaves stuffed with rice which crawled out of the pantry last week begging “please eat me or bin me – my best-by date expired four years ago.”

As with an increasing number of things in my life I have no actual memory of why or when I purchased said vine leaves or indeed where I got them from.

They were followed by a tin of prunes waving a similar flag of surrender. Except when I’ve been beaten by everyone else to the good bits of a hotel buffet breakfast I never eat prunes. Let alone buy tins of them.

I think I was possibly preparing for the Nuclear Winter when I bought them (clearly vine leaves and prunes are a disaster must). It’s a habit I inherited from Mother Dearest who regularly stocked up on tinned goods in preparation for the Russian Invasion and subsequent Reds Under the Bed as the tabloid headlines warned.

It prompted my father to suggest we stand at the front door ready to pelt any potential invaders with our abundant supply of tinned Del Monte Fruit Cocktail. His idea clearly worked – we were never invaded by the pesky Ruskies and this was long before Eastern European immigration raised its controversial head (though MD presumably still has a few tins in reserve).

My Nuclear Winter is more realistic – though I have to admit hasn’t happened yet.

For the unenlightened it’s when things are so cold for so long that supplies can’t get through to shops and you have to rely on what’s in the cupboard - a bit like the day after Christmas when the supermarket shelves have been stripped by panic buyers.

Anyway, at the first promise of prolonged sunshine (aka the Saharan Summer) I traditionally take to trimming the pantry down to size.

I must have slackened in recent years because the latest seasonal clear-out revealed 10 tins and jars of various curry sauces, eight soups, half a dozen tins of plum tomatoes and a couple of cans of kidney beans.

Tucked behind more packets of cereal (most of them opened) than you’d find in a Kellogg’s warehouse was a 400g packet of coriander seeds alongside 300g of ground coriander. And behind them? Another 300g of coriander seeds. That, in case you hadn’t realised, is a lot of coriander.

I can’t even use the excuse that I’d bought two to get one free. And even though an offer like that would explain the nine tins of tuna (I don’t even like tuna) it doesn’t explain my apparent passion for a fairly limited cooking ingredient. Does anyone want some coriander?