…With a Cleaver in His Hand


I’m drinking a glass of the most delicious orange juice from one of the trees in our back garden. I’ve been doing this every winter since I came to Australia 12 years ago, and still I’m awed by it.

Where I lived in Scotland, stuff didn’t grow on trees, except for leaves, and maybe chestnuts in the autumn but that was an ‘English’ thing and even if we used them for games of conkers we’d never have had a clue about how to eat them. At one point, when I lived in Red Rd Court there wasn’t a shop that sold fresh fruit and veg closer than two suburbs away. There was a supermarket but they gradually stopped selling the fruit n veg in favour of getting more freezers in. If you wanted an orange you had to get on the number 8 bus to Springburn, which was once every 30 mins if it turned up, and take your chance there.

It wasn’t so bad when I moved to Govanhill. Allison Street was a long corridor of fruit and veg heaven. There was a huge population of Indian and Pakistani people in the suburb, and the women would shop daily for their cooking needs, which gave us residents the follow-on benefit of being able to walk into a shop at up to 9pm at night if you were longing for a banana.

And oh, the banana wars that went on! You’d see the signs go up ‘Bananas 6p a pound’, then the rival down the street would offer them at 4p, then someone would go to 2p.

My bestie, Linda, whose flat I shared, revelled in the banana wars and would report the latest to her dad, Jim, with the same enthusiasm a broker would have for the stock market. Her ultimate triumph came one day when she was able to proclaim ‘They’re giving them away for free!’.

There were also shops that sold all the cooking implements needed at very low prices. You’d see these yuppie folks on the telly with their latest chic item, like a mortar and pestle, that would have cost them a fortune. Stroll down Allison St and you’d get it for a fiver (I did). My one regret is not buying a chapati pan when I could. I’d actually really like one now so if anyone knows of where I can get a decent one in Adelaide, let me know.

They also had a few Halal butchers in Allison St. My main memory is when I was still dewy-eyed about the ex husband and wanted to take him to meet the parents. Called my mum who said ‘well, we’re having pork chops tonight but it’s a public holiday – can you get a few more down Allison St and bring them up with you?’. And so, quite unthinkingly, I sent the ex into the Halal butcher to ask for four pork chops while I sat in the car.

I knew something was up when I saw him bolting from the door shouting “Drive! Drive!”. Apparently its is something of a dangerous faux pas to ask for pork chops from a Halal butcher with a cleaver in his hand.

Have a lovely week!

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