In the supermarket carrying my two jars of honey, because it’s been nonstop chai masala weather, I fetched up queuing behind a guy in a vinyl blouson jacket who had just unloaded his entire cart. He turned his back on me to demonstrate that there was no way he would be letting me in front of him with my measly two items, just in case I was getting any ideas, and so I turned to the man behind me. There is nothing else to look at in this vast discounter warehouse, next door to the bottle shop which offers tiny toddlers’ shopping carts to educate your kid into alcoholism, a local outlet which sells everything unfresh and also, inexplicably, organic honey.
So there I was with my organic honey and he started unloading onto the belt long, fresh, green bottles of wine. They looked like stalks of grass, their lovely labelling, and on each the promising word ‘Bio.” Bio in German is pronounced bee-ohh and it means organic. “Wow,” I said, “Biowein. Bei einem solchen Supermarkt ist’s schön, so was zu finden.”
I think I said, Wow, organic wine. Nice thing to find in a supermarket like this. My German is riddled with infealties and infelicities but I live oblivious, above all that, smiling. He looked rather startled. Unloaded five bottles of wine and one flask of apple juice and now some random stranger has commented on his shopping! I tried again. “Ich bin Australierin. In Australien findet man Biowaren nicht so leicht.” In Australia you don’t find organic products this easily; I’m Australian. A look of compunction crossed his face, streaked with humour. He leaned in. Conspiratorily,
“Es steck noch Alkohol drin.” There’s still alcohol in it. Ah yes, I said: and also, though – vitamins. I mean… it’s made from fruit.