Loon Fung supermarket is insanely crowded on a Saturday afternoon. I jostle along cramped aisles in search of hor fun and spinach noodles and chrysanthemum tea and ginger, listen in the queue to conversations I can’t understand, except for the shopper asking for Ayam brand curry in distinctly Singaporean accented English.
The cashier is harried but efficient with snatches of automated courtesy. She tells me the price in Cantonese, I thank her in English. We exchange the quick grimaces that pass for smiles in other parts of the world, and I stagger out with my bags feeling appropriately chinkified for the next while.
It’s pouring down. At first my gaze is inexorably drawn to the heels of the person in front of me as I walk head down through the rain. It was wonderfully sunny earlier and many people were tempted outside in khakis and cropped trousers. Now I see mudspots and rain beaded on leg hairs.
By the time I get to the Sainsbury’s on Tottenham Court Road the rain is dripping off my soaked head into my mouth and down my neck and I’m past caring. I walk leisurely, head up as if it were summer, swinging my multiple kg bag of rice as much as I dare.
Before stepping into the hall I vaguely remember a similarly soaked occasion when I was a child, where I tried to shake like a dog and my mother said it addled the brain. I go in and meet Elaine, who twitters “Oh, is it raining? I didn’t notice.”