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Monday, 11 March 2013

Balanced diet

"Have you noticed there's more mist on the moors these days?" my son asks, as we shop in Tesco's deserted aisles, late at night.

"I have," I say. "I blame climate change."

"I blame zombies," he says, grabbing two packs of broccoli and tossing them in the trolley.  "Good stuff that," he says. "Bright, fresh and green. You can feel it zapping you with vitamins as you eat it."

"Zombies?" I say.


"You blame zombies for the mists on the moors?"

"Sure," he says. "They hide inside it till you wander along, then jump out and eat your brains."

"Bastards," I say.

"Yeah," he says.

We leave the vegetables behind and head towards the centre of the store, sidestepping a surly member of staff. "Do you always shop here?" I ask. "I used to but the shelf-stackers are rude. They shove you aside and never apologise."

"I've noticed that," he says. "But it's big and it's handy for me. Now what else do I need? I've got broccoli, tomatoes, cheese and chick peas. That's all I live on these days. You're a vegetarian too. What do you eat?"

"Pasta, beans, salad."

"Doesn't sound like a balanced diet," he says. "You sure being veggie is good for you?"

"Been one for 40 years," I say, and he looks me up and down but makes no comment. The lighting in the store has started to flicker.

"Ten years for me," he says. "But I'm not convinced it's healthy."

"You look well on it," I say. "Even if I don't."

"That's the training. But it must be easier for a body to make muscles and organs if that's what you're putting into it. Stands to reason."

"Not necessarily. It's biochemistry. It's complicated."

"But how can you build biceps out of macaroni and lettuce leaves?" he says. "I wouldn't know where to start if I was a human metabolism."

"Just as well you're not then," I say.

The faulty lighting has settled now into a slow oscillation, bright to gloomy and back again, accompanied by an electrical buzz that peaks in the darkness. The rows of red flesh in the meat aisle look painless and sterile in their tight cellophane wrappers. It's no place for veggies so we push on, headed for the drinks aisle.

"On that logic you should eat human flesh all the time," I say. "And zombies would be the healthiest people around."

"If they weren't dead," he says, stopping abruptly and looking along the length of the aisle. "See if I was a zombie, I wouldn't be out on those cold, hard moors at night. I'd be hanging around places like this, picking off sad people like us."

A vaguely human shape comes shambling towards us. "Could you tell the difference between a zombie and a shelf-stacker in this light?" I ask my son anxiously.

"One moves slow, smells bad and treats you rough," he says. "The other's a zombie."

"Twats," the stacker says and walks on.

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