Posted by: Catherine Weston | June 7, 2013

Someone nicked my strawberries and other stories

As you’ve not heard from me in a while, here are several stories to think about.  What do you think they tell us about the human condition?


On the day after a famous Paralympian gave his testimony to a South African magistrates court, a man with a gun walked into our bedroom.  We were staying temporarily in a friend’s holiday home on the sunshine coast of Eastern Cape, unpacking after our long flight from London.  The man with a gun was a helpful security guard who turned up within two minutes of our having set off the alarm by accident for the second time in a row. He spent a few minutes resetting the control panel and then explained how the security system worked. When I told this story later to South African friends they agreed how reassuring it was for the security guard to arrive so promptly.  That hadn’t actually been the thought uppermost in my mind.  I am not used to having men with guns in my bedroom.

Yesterday I visited a fruit farm with a friend to pick strawberries.  It was a perfect, sunny June day; the strawberries were fat, ripe and delicious. I picked two full punnets and we returned to the farm shop to pay. There were other goodies on sale so we placed our trays of produce down on the counter and said to the girl behind the checkout that we’d be back after picking up a few other things in the shop. A few asparagus spears later we returned to have our strawberries weighed and paid for.  It was only after I returned to the car that I realised something was wrong.  One of my punnets contained strawberries that were cold – as if they’d just come from the chiller cabinet.  I returned to the shop and the young woman agreed that it was a ready picked punnet from the shop. She’d noticed the strawberries were in a marginally different design of plastic punnet and charged me more accordingly.  While my back was turned (and her attention was elsewhere too) someone had removed my freshly picked strawberries, substituted a punnet from the shop and got mine for the cheaper ‘self picked’ rate.

A few weeks ago we were strolling along the seafront at Cannes.  We were not there for the film festival – that was a few weeks away – but rather visiting a former student friend who had got a job in nearby Antibes. All the world and his wife were out walking their dogs, roller skating along the promenade or just enjoying the spring sunshine, the blue sea and perhaps, like us, the frisson of being in a place where very rich and famous people come to stay. We explored the marina with its super yachts and reflected on the millions of Euros needed to add a custom-made helipad, if you should happen to want one. As we surveyed these floating pleasure palaces it struck me how gleaming and unsullied they looked.  Did anyone actually take them out to sea? Or were they simply used as the ‘must have’ location for exclusive parties?  Part of me hoped to see a villainous henchman emerge and tip James Bond into the water, but the crew members we saw were only polishing the already sparkling paintwork.

We human beings love to show off, whether it’s the billionaire playboys with their flashy boats or me having my photo taken on the red carpet at Cannes.


Red carpet

Red carpet


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