I’m a chatty type-: a dander down the Ormeau Road near where I live can take an hour longer than expected if I don’t have a word with myself. Sometimes though, a chat can open all sorts of possibilities, and with my ‘Do One Thing’ this month, I’ve been even chattier than ever. Today at lunch time I took a stroll round the Christmas Market at the City Hall with my friend Fiona. If you haven’t been yet, scurry along soon, because it’s just gorgeous. A few years ago I visited the Czech Republic at Christmas time and it smelt the same, with the rich scents of coffee and mulled wine and wood smoke. I was particularly taken with the French stall, with Provençal produce that had me reminiscing of foreign climes with soaps of lavender, vetivert and rose.
We followed our noses to the steaming vat of chowder at the Mourne Seafood Van, and what a friendly bunch they were. However, as soon as I spied the polystyrene boxes for their lobster burgers I was off on one of course, which did not appear to perturb them in the least. ‘We’ll pass that on to the big lads,’ they said, nodding away, not looking in the least aggrieved.
‘Individual sachets for sauces, that’s another disaster,’ I added. ‘You need to look into that.’
‘Aye, right enough. We just need one of those big jobbos for ketchup.’
You see? These poor lads, accosted by me before the lunch time rush, and still managing to be ever so pleasant. I was very taken with them. ‘Is she one of them un’s who’s saving the planet?’ one asked my friend, who nodded vigorously.
A couple of years ago, when I mentioned recycling or suggested alternatives to plastic, people often looked at me with barely concealed contempt. ‘Away off and stop being so bothersome,’ their eyes said, even if they managed to be civil. It’s great that attitudes are changing.
Fiona’s husband is French and she told me stories he’d shared of weddings back in his native Brittany when his parents were young. Instead of an expensive or elaborate reception, the whole village attended the ceremony, then gathered to sup stew or soup in a hall or field. Each guest brought a ‘wedding spoon’ so they could tuck in and no one had to wash up. As I trotted round the market today I chided myself for not having brought my keep-cup or cutlery with me. (As it was, I ate my fish taco with my hands, which was slightly messy but entirely do-able, and I held off on having a drink until later).
‘If I had brought my own container would you have filled it?’ I asked the Mourne Seafood chap. ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ he replied.
And there we are. I have a sizeable handbag, so from now on, should I visit a market, I’ll have my cup and eating implements with me. The more we do this, the more it will be the norm, and after the conversation with the lads earlier, they won’t be surprised. The transition towards sustainable living is afoot, and the more of us who embrace it, the quicker change will happen.