Is it just me or is the world that we live in so soaked in double meanings that it is hard to believe what is actually happening? I try to explain to a young Japanese student how the self-service kiosk works: ‘touch the screen here and tap your finger in that little box… you must put your finger inside the little box.’ Simple instructions are beyond me and slip out of my control into a zone of glandular disquiet. Yes, it must be me I tell myself as an elderly heiress who appears to have the hots for me (a combination of bad weather and boredom) asks me where I have been. ‘I suppose,’ she says, ‘they must move you around a fair bit…’ What is she getting at? Who is moving me around and to what ends?
Later, there are midwives giving a talk in the Robert Mugabe Community Space and I’ve been sent in to beef up the audience and ask some questions to get the discussion going. I ask a young midwife if she was ‘vaginally born’ and then sink back in my vinyl chair while she tells me what a great start it is. I nod furiously. She can’t stop. She goes on about how she enjoyed a healthy maternal relationship based on plenty of breast-feeding and delicious night feeds. My stomach churns sympathetically with her lactation rhythms. Even stranger than the fact that she is answering my question, twenty men from the reference library (the usual loonies clogging up the desks with letters they will never send to politicians who died fifty years ago) all applaud.I try to leave the building before the panic sets in and bump into my tattooed manager on the stairs. ‘After lunch we need to weed the non-fic. Help me pull some stuff off?’
In Waitrose I feel safe hovering by the soup section. A nice carton of Covent Garden soup will put me to rights and then I can get stuck into my book on metaphysical poetry. I grab the soup without thinking and read the description: Pulled Pork with Nigella Beans — it beggars belief. I lower my face into the refrigerated units to breathe in cool hygienic air.