Wikipedia is my BFF, at its bestest during dinnertime conversations when I wish I was a walking-talking Trivial Pursuit. One Christmas, a few years back, we (as in real human friends) deliberated over the difference between clementines, mandarins and tangerines. A surreptitious tap on my Iphone’s W button and – voila! – I became a master in fruitology. Quandary solved, we all slept easy.
Clusterfuck. Once again, I confide in my loveable Wiki, only on this count it doesn’t really satisfy. He or she – really I should know by now – tells me Clusterfuck is a ‘chaotic situation where everything seems to go wrong.’ It is a word from the 60s, a product of the Vietnam War and, for me, an apt description for a not-so-innocent sandwich shop.
Fast forward to Saturday. I tap Pret a Manger into the Apple Maps app. For some time now, I have watched that familiar mauve and white star logo spread like the Milky Way across London, taking stock of abandoned spaces, blithely occupying every corner of every street and seemingly clueless of the fact another has opened barely a hundred metres away. Apple Maps confirms my fear. The screen lights up in a sea of pins. I have actually lost count of how many Prets are within walking distance of my home. There is no comfort in knowing that at any time of the day I can pop out for a fix of an Italian Prosciutto on Artisan baguette. I will never be deprived of the crunchy familiarity of its loaf.
So I go for a walk. Here is the one at the top of St John’s.
And another at the bottom …
Or it could be on Cowcross Lane. Nevermind, there’s one here as well …
It’s a tough walk up Treadmills to Clerkenwell Road. Thank goodness salvation is at hand.
And barely two hundred metres further into Bloomsbury (also on Clerkenwell Road):
And just as Clerkenwell Road becomes Theobalds Road …
And so it comes to pass. I have barely scratched the surface.