Man has rights. Among these: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of icecream.
It was to exercise the latter right that I left my house not too long ago.
As usual when in pursuit of icecream, I crossed Woodford Avenue. I passed the bAr, Visage, and finally Faces - that magical place widely recognised as one of the worst nightclubs in the land. Soon, I had reached my goal and, suppressing the urge to wave my arms and shout "Open Sesame!", I walked through the automatic doors into Tesco acting like a normal person.
I maintained this pretence, walking in measured strides, neither too fast nor too slow, to the 'Frozen Goods' section. There I raised my eyes and was confronted with that one thing that is simultaneously every icecream purchaser's greatest desire and greatest fear: choice!
There was icecream to the right of me, icecream to the left of me, icecream in front of me! Struck dumb, I gazed in wonder at the cornucopia of dairy products before me. It was not long, however, before my eye settled on two items. First, the Strawberry Carte D'Or Frozen Yogurt I love; second, but not least, the last tub of Ben And Jerry's Phish Food (half price). Though once sceptical of it, as I am of all chocolate icecream, I had become a recent convert.
I opened the door, but fear gripped me and stayed my hand. The icecream, so tantalisingly close, was not yet mine. I had to pay for it! There was a problem. The Ben and Jerry's (half price) was a mere £1.99, a trifling sum, but the Carte D'Or I so desired fetched the princely sum of £3.06! Worse still, I had been sent out with only £4.90 in gold and silver! Disaster! Treachery! Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me!
I suppressed my laughter. There were times and places for Carry On jokes, and this was neither. A search had to be made, a search... of pockets! In this, I was lucky. I was wearing my DofE trousers, famed for their attractive dull green, sturdy construction and their ten individual pockets! Finding enough change in these trousers was quite an undertaking, but the chances of success were high. I steeled my nerves and set about the grim task.
Half a minute, half a pack of chewing gum, ten wrappers, my keys and, somewhat improbably, the Ace of Spades later, I had a collection of several copper and silver coins, more than enough to make up the sum required. As I congratulated myself on never using money-boxes, I noticed a slight movement in the corner of my eye.
Turning to my right I saw her, standing not two feet from me. A woman in black. She had approached from the rear, stealing up on me whilst my attention was focussed on my own legs. A foot shorter than me, she wore trousers of a similar construction to mine and a jacket of what appeared to be leather. She was staring at me. In her right hand, a basket of Alpro Soya and Alpen. Her left hand hung free, the fingers gently flexing.
She smiled at me, but I saw through her ploy. The mouth moved, but the eyes remained those of a fox, radiating pure cunning and malice. I did not smile and her grin vanished as quickly as it had appeared. As one, we gazed at the cabinet, looking through its frosted glass to the delicious, solitary, tub of Phish Food within. Suddenly, though the shelves fairly groaned with other delectables, only that one tub mattered.
Once again, we faced each other with grim expressions, our eyes locking. For two long seconds we coolly regarded each other, each testing our opponent's resolve. She cracked first, glancing down at her basket.
I seized the chance, my hand reaching for the door even before I told it to move, my entire body sensing the urgency of the action. But then, just as victory seemed assured, the Fates conspired against me once more. I had reached for the left side of the freezer, but my hand met only empty air. The handle, was on the right! Our eyes met once more, and a terrible satisfaction crept over her features as she opened the cabinet, snatched the Phish Food and was gone.
Standing there, my arm outstretched, I gazed at the spot where the Ben and Jerry's, so nearly mine, had once stood. There, in the bitter moments of defeat, I remembered that man has an unalienable right to the pursuit of icecream. Nobody said anything about finding it.