I bought fish from the market and chatted to Matt, the fishmonger for a few minutes. I said I’d forgotten it was Thursday, so was glad I’d happened to come into town in time to see him – he usually starts to pack up about midday. I went and fetched fruit and veg from Al and then, as I packed it all in the panniers, he called again “Was it you who asked me for bloaters* a while ago?” No, it wasn’t, but I’d have some if he’d got them, I replied. I love bloaters, they remind me of my Lowestoft childhood – although bloaters are most associated with Great Yarmouth.
He took a pair and started to wrap them. I reached for my wallet. “No, that’s all right, have them on me.” He was adamant and I could only thank him.
Next, I cycled up to the bike shop as my bicycle needed some adjustments. The back mudguard was catching the wheel slightly, as I had one heavy item to take home the other day and a weight in one pannier only must have shifted things a bit. The back wheel needed a tweak too. Matt in the cycle shop opened the door to me. I’d expected to leave the bike while I went to my meeting, but he said he’d see to it straight away. Ten minutes, and he was done, having also oiled the chain and pumped up the front tyre. He put the panniers back on. “Blimey, they’re heavy.” I explained that that was a normal day’s food shopping – we eat a lot of vegetables…” I took out my wallet – “No, that’s all right, no trouble” he said. “Are you sure,” I asked, feeling embarrassed, “it took you some while.” He wouldn’t take anything and, again, all I could do was say thank you.
I trust their generosity doesn’t send them out of business, I’d feel awfully guilty.
*I suspect few of you young people have ever tasted a bloater. They are smoked herrings but, whilst kippers are split and gutted and smoked, bloaters are smoked whole, and the guts give them a more gamey flavour. I’m sure my mother used to cook them whole too, but I take the innards out before I cook them. They are very bony, but delicious. Buckling are also smoked herring, but they have received a hot smoke, so can be eaten without further cooking.