I would rather navigate spiteful whitewater rapids, I think, as I embark on a journey that terrifies me more. I would sooner scale mountains thick with snow and peril. I would, instead, fight through rainforests with only a compass and the threat of snakebite for companions. Yes, I would choose any - all - of these, rather than launch myself on this journey.
I am travelling, nudging, millimetre by millimetre, from the back to the front of the Saturday morning queue at Tesco.
No, there are no killer beasts here, except for unpredictable wayward trolleys, untamed in the inexpert grasp of Marjorie, who normally shops online, or Derek, who hasn't shopped alone since 1972 and is only here because of his wife's broken ankle. And her Stare of Death.
There are no crocodiles here, no lions, tigers, hornets or spiders. But there is the fierce bite, the deep sting of knowing that ahead stretches a queue of seventeen others. Each, like me, has a trolley piled to perdition with pizza and pastries and packets of peas. My quest up this queue of stultification will delete forty-five minutes from my life that I will never see again.
And nor would I want to see those minutes again, any more than I would offer myself a second time to a grizzly bear that had just wrenched off my foot with its teeth or denuded me of an arm with a swipe of its concrete slab of a paw.
And, no, here there aren't snarls and hissings from a rainforest's hidden beast-life that can cool the blood faster than the Grim Reaper himself. But, in front of me, there is a Small Child. A Small Child who wants Haribo. Small children who want Haribo - but aren't getting it - have screams that could slice into the soul of the Archbishop of Canterbury and divide him cleanly from every moral and compassionate instinct. This here is not a child. This is a monstrous wailing boy-creature that any midnight wolf would be proud to call 'brother'.
The queue shifts. Another millimetre of ground conquered.
But my journey - perhaps my last journey - has only begun.
|Having detached his own tongue in his fury, Bobby was never going to enjoy Haribo again|