Costermongers’ Corner

I was going to try and place the title’s apostrophe in an ironic manner, but then realised any position was potentially feasible.  Also, given the slightly archaic nature of the term costermonger, it is rather less associated in the public mind with imaginative use of the apostrophe than the more modern greengrocer.

Following last weeks’ news that M&S had developed exciting new packaging to prevent fruit and vegetables from ageing, I had planned to purchase some suitable comestibles and then wrap myself in their packaging whilst I slept at night.  I am, after all, ripe enough already and, as is often quoted, share a worrying proportion of my genetic material with the strawberry or lettuce.  I fondly imagined my wrinkles being smoothed whilst I, nonetheless, retained the ability to produce facial expressions.  Alas, it was not to be.  Further reading showed that the packaging only contained a trap for ethene (or ethylene for older readers), a gas released by plants affecting germination of seeds, ripening of fruit and senescence of flowers.  Despite intensive research, I can find no evidence that ethene has any effect on middle-aged men – and so its night-time sequestration is unlikely to share any common ground with the fountain of youth (though it would reduce the risk of an explosion).  Looks like it’s back to the alchemy for me – the pesky Philosophers’ Stone cannot elude me much longer…

At the weekend, I purchased a bag of small apples from Waitrose.  The packaging offered no indication that it would retard local entropy, but did describe the contents as being “weather blemished”.  The contents were in fact “russeted”, and this was only right and proper as they were Egremont Russets in their natural attire.  There are a whole family of russet apples, my personal favourite being the Princess Russet – though this particular member of apple royalty is hard to find.  Late frosts in South Cambs have denied me its crisp delights for the last two years: wiping out most of the crop from the heritage orchards of Cam Valley Orchards, who are suppliers of most of my apple (and plum) based needs.

However, other recent news reminds us that frost is not always our enemy.  The lack of frosts is having a terrible effect on the forced rhubarb crop from the Rhubarb Triangle.  Despite lying within a frost pocket, the current mild winter means the crop has not received the invigorating frosts the roots need.  Unlike the perfidious Dutch, the fine folk of Yorkshire refuse to dump acid onto the roots – which leads to anaemic, tasteless stems – but rely on the tried and tested powers of old Jack Frost.  So, in the hope that it is not too late, all right-thinking readers of GofaDM should pray for Wakefield, and its environs, to be heavily frosted and soon!

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