Today, as I roamed the aisles of Marks and Spencer’s food hall , basket in hand and indecision in mind, a young man drifted past me, murmuring soto voce ‘Swede, swede, swede …….’.
Why, I wondered.
As a wonder it was more interesting than the one about which has the least calories, pain au chocolat or salad – I know the answer to that.
What was it about the swede that brought on this incantation? What magic power did the vegetable assert to force its name from between his lips beside the yoghurts in M&S?
‘Pale swedes I loved beside the yoghurt aisle’.
I imagined a family at breakfast:
Demanding wife ‘When you’re in Marks, don’t forget the swede.’
Forgetful husband, ‘I must not forget the swede, swede, swede….’
Or perhaps he was a foreigner committing a classic English word to memory.
Our circulation round the aisles brought us together again by the desserts and I had another earful of his invocation.
‘Sweeeede……’ he was still murmuring. His accent was English and he didn’t seem to be in danger of forgetting the vegetable he fixated on.
His tone had a questioning rise to it: ‘Sweeeede?’. It was full of doubt.
He doubts! He doubts swede! A man who can doubt swede will question anything, from the healthfulness of apples to the rightness of democracy. Is he headed down the path to anarchy – or does he just like saying ‘Sweeeede?’.