LEMON ENTRY, MY DEAR WATSON
There’s a well-known rude joke I won’t repeat here involving Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr Watson, the punchline being the title of this post. Were Sherlock and the good Doctor actually real, and gracing the streets of 21st Century London, they might employ themselves usefully by investigating The Case of the Disappearing Lemons.
I have friends staying with me this week: my lovely girlfriend Ludmilla, and her bright young teenage son, Alexei, over from Nice for half term. Ludmilla is Russian, and grew up enduring various deprivations (which experience she could fall back on, as luck would have it, when she last paid me a visit in the summer of 2011, thanks to my fridge deciding to take the very same two weeks off fridging). But times have moved on, brand names now abound all over the globe, and most things can be acquired at the click of a mouse. Apart from lemons, that is, in the centre of London. In 2012. (Do I sound bitter? Or just sour?)
We were enjoying a lovely day yesterday – an amble around Harrod’s, a delicious lunch, shoe-shopping for Alexei, even the sun came out in the afternoon. Naturally, the teenager was eager to appreciate the real attractions of the capital city, and asked for an hour in a certain electronic gadget store (they don’t need the publicity, but we’re talking another fruit here – tsk, not pomegranate, think again), so Ludmilla and I repaired next door to one of those coffee shops identified by its chunky brown furniture and complete lack of charm. We queued for the requisite three days while the two hapless employees behind the counter were endeavouring to deal with the requests of the 143 people in front of us, each demanding one of the 17,975 slightly different concoctions of coffee beans and cow juice the management have come up with.
At last it was our turn. I asked for an Earl Grey tea with lemon. To be told they ‘don’t have lemons’.
They don’t have lemons? Well, it’s not as if they grow on trees, is it?
I shouldn’t have been surprised, for as I was sipping my lemon tea without the lemon (the taste was lacking something, can’t quite put my finger on it) I remembered having the same experience a few years ago in another branch of the same coffee house (is ‘cafe’ a four-letter word these days?), which was actually located in a supermarket. I’ll have a lemon tea please, I’d said. ‘Sorry’, came the sorry reply, ‘we don’t have lemons’. We’re in a supermarket, I pointed out helpfully. They’re just over there. And I waved my hand in the direction of a paltry display of twelve tons of the things: waxed, unwaxed, otherwise depilated, cleansed, moisturized and toned. He looked at me as if I was bananas (see what I did there?) and another lemonless beverage was had.
Didn’t another famous fictional detective, Hercule Poirot, have a secretary by the name of Miss Lemon? Her business cards would have to be somewhat larger in current times, wide enough to accommodate the monica Miss Wedonthavelemons.
I’d be grateful if someone could solve this modern day citrus mystery for me. To put it another way, I’ll have a large glass of lemon aid, please.