IT is a strange sensation to find one’s self looking at an onion and thinking: well, that’s it, game over, the whole world really has gone to Hell in a hand cart.
It is a strange sensation, let us be honest, to find one’s self looking at an onion and thinking much at all, other than perhaps being aware of a vague sense of both repulsion and predilection.
A bit like when you see a Big Mac, perhaps, or a picture of Geri Halliwell.
But, there I was, lost in the supermarket, beholding this root vegetable convinced that here lay proof humanity had plummeted to perilous depths.
First things first, though, allow me to excuse myself for being in Tesco when Castle Market is so close.
Allow me, indeed, to stress my love for Castle Market – undoubtedly one of the greatest places, if not on Earth, at least on Waingate.
I love its sights, its smells and... well, maybe not its sounds because mostly all you can hear is one woman chanting that two bags of bananas cost a pound.
But even that has a certain old-fashioned charm. And, hey, two bags of bananas for a pound?
Worth shouting about.
I love the butcher who listens to my incoherent ramblings then gives me exactly the right amount of meat; and the green grocer who checks to make sure I know it’s a sweet potato in my basket and not a regular spud. I didn’t. Can I change it? Of course you can, sweetheart.
Not often you get called that by a bloke with tattoos. But I love that too.
And yet sometimes – mainly, say, 8pm when you find you’ve run out of some essential; you know, toilet roll or tea bags – sometimes you have to go to the local mega-money-sucker.
And so, there I was, staring at this onion...
Reader, it was pre-packed, pre-washed, pre-peeled and pre-chopped.
A sliced symbol of the most spectacular sloth I have ever seen – and I see people catch the elevator to the first floor daily.
“I fancy a salad,” someone presumably once declared, “but, by Christ, the 30 seconds it takes me to lop an onion is 30 seconds I’d rather be on the sofa.”
And so someone, in America (obvs), did it for them. And now they’ve brought it here so we too can become a clinically obese nation.
What next? Premasticated burgers for fatties who resent chewing?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for labour-saving devices.
I understand why my Nana did a little dance and had a large sherry when she got a washing machine; and why my Mother greeted the arrival of a dishwasher like some might greet the Second Coming.
But pre-chopped onions?
Too much, too far, too bone-bloody-idle.
Did we really crawl out the primordial soup so someone could cut a root veg for us?
Yes, I know there are greater global concerns right now: lost generations, economic Armageddon, revolutionary bloodshed.
But, in some small way, don’t those problems pale compared with the slow devolution of the species into a soft, flabby, sofa-bound blob demanding biscuits come pre-dipped in tea?
Well no, obviously they don’t. But, still, I can’t help thinking the world would be better off if only we all chopped our own salad ingredients; did it the old-fashioned way like they do down Castle Market.
“Pre-chopped onions, here?” said that grocer when I asked.
“Don’t be daft sweetheart.”