So here it is. Merry Christmas. Everybody’s…

Fun will definitely be had. If eating is fun, I’ve got it sorted. A last minute trip to Waitrose yielded 36 blinis, smoked salmon, lumpfish caviar and cream cheese to add to my hoard. But no Vacherin, dammit.

I’ve got this thing going on for unpasteurised cheese at Christmas. I really do like to have a Mont D’Or, darling. Two years ago I accidentally left one in the corner of my centrally heated bedroom for two weeks and then baked it anyway. It took months to get the smell out of the oven and it almost made me sick. You have to be careful with unpasteurised cheese. But I’m not selling it to you very well. It’s great when fresh. Just don’t let it die.

I try to leave buying it until just before Christmas now so it’s still good even if I forget to put it in the fridge – when it’s good it’s very very good. Likely down to the wonders of Brexit, it’s slightly harder to find regional seasonal French unpasteurised cheese in London this year…

What an incredible world we live in, that it’s possible at all. We are so spoilt, guzzling African coffee with South American sugar and Jersey milk without even thinking about the distances. No wonder we are reflexively making things harder for ourselves. We don’t deserve this convenience. It’s kind of too amazing how we so can thoughtlessly have French cheese on Spanish meat with Belgian beer, Swiss chocolate with Italian Prosecco…

Hey ho. We’ll still have good old cheddar and spam, kitcats and Newcastle Brown, chips and gravy… And this year it is still possible to get Vacherin in London on Christmas Eve for just over a tenner.

I went on the most middle class mission you can imagine. Waitrose. Marks and Spencers. Partridges! Nothing. Hmmm. I live in same postcode as Harrods. I can park there for free. I have an Audi. Why the hell not?

Harrods is only open for cosmetics and food right now. This huge Temple of Mammon was still pulling in crowds though, eager to load up on expensive things. The food hall usually feels luxurious and spacious. We were elbow to knee in there today. I had to follow the flow past small packets of sugared almonds – 3 for the price of 2 at £16 each. Eventually I sensed it – right there, calling me with its soft cheesy voice – the stinky cry of one of the final two Mont D’Ors in all of London town – and “only” £11 each.

“Hooray! There are some left,” I mumble to myself as I seize the penultimate cheesey wheel in triumph. Immediately, just at my right shoulder, a woman takes sharp notice: “Did you look elsewhere?” I tell her of my search. “Well done. Thank you,” she says with a busy degree of sincerity as she reaches across me and yoinks the last one.

That’s when I should have left. The energy of that place is sharp at making you spend. Looking for a place to pay, I come across a man with a box of snowglobes. They’re two for a tenner. Baby’s first snowglobe. It plays an upbeat version of silent night and if you shake it a bunch of plastic stars swirl around the horrid dogs for about a second and a half before disappointingly falling back out of sight. I’ve got two of them.

One is going to a poor friend who will have thought she liked snowglobes right up until she sees this one – this disappointing little memento of Christmas 2020, marketed as baby’s first in order to get round the fact that any adult will know how bad it is. Still, it’ll last longer than the Vacherin. It’s all I can do not to open that tasty cheese tonight. It’s half eleven… But everything in its proper time…

Merry merry merry merry my lovelies. Look to the future. It’s only just begun.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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