Basket cases ...
Last night, during dinner, I had a brainwave. We were discussing, with as little stress as possible, the best means of receiving food bought, as was needed today, from the Fish Van. Usually, the van arrives from Inveraray, parks along the road, orderly queue forms behind open rear doors, each person in turn steps forward, examines fish (and vegetables), makes choice, waits beside Paul the Fish Man as he selects and bags said fish, takes it and pays. All this now seemed fraught with risk. What to do ...
You see, the problem is modern shopping bags. We all use them, these big Bags for Life. They hold plenty and keep the rain out. But if you put one down, on the floor or - in the case of buying fish in the street, on the road - the top flops over and you can't put anything in it without touching the handles. Successfully to manage this manoeuvre - bear with me - you need something solid.
That's when I remembered the basket. I don't know where it came from, but I suspect I found it in a cupboard in this house when I moved into it all of 45 years ago. I can't remember if I ever used it for shopping; I have a feeling it simply held things. Where was it now?
This is where it became slightly ridiculous. Dinner over, I armed myself with the magnetic torch and the key and marched off down the soggy garden, in the drizzle, to the shed. The shed is fairly lethal, especially in the dark: the scarifier left me in no doubt of that the moment I stepped too close with a bare ankle (I was wearing Crocs). The grass rake menaced the other foot. I pressed on, heaving aside garden rubbish bags, buckets of trowels ... there was a crash as I knocked over some vital equipment and had to rescue it ... and then I saw it. Tucked into the very back corner of the shed, against the damp wooden wall, was The Basket. It had several strange items in it - old seed packets, some small flower pots, a bag of long shiny nails (why? why the nails?) I removed them all carefully and retreated indoors, stopping only to flush out a large spider and wash off the worst of the cobwebs under the outside tap.
This morning, before breakfast, I attacked it again. I found an old-fashioned wooden scrubbing-brush (the shed, again) and some all-purpose floor cleaner, and I scrubbed that basket till all the white blobs - mould? rot? - had vanished and the dark grey colour of the basket-work was ... well, not dark grey. I dried it beside the gas fire while I had breakfast, and Mr PB bore it off to buy the fish, with minimal contact. You can picture the scene. Don't forget the rain.
Oh - and lest you wonder: he paid later, by bank transfer. Cool, huh?