No matter how carefully I inspect them in the shop, the lemons that I finally choose to buy and bring home are the ones that have already decided to go mouldy…and soon. They seduce me, with their taught dimpled skins and pert nipples, into believing that they are sweet young lemons, full of life and juice, but in truth they are tired old citric courtesans just waiting for a likely punter to take them home, to a warm kitchen, where they can live out their days in comfort, rotting in a sun bathed bowl on the window ledge with other like minded lemons. As with all clever practitioners of cosmetic artifice, they are adept at hiding the signs of ageing. The lemon, lacking any means of locomotion, must rely on stealth. To this end there is a rule in the lemon world which demands that the first manifestations of decomposition must make themselves evident only in the areas that are hidden from plain view. At this masquerade they are past mistresses ( not post mistresses, although there is a precedent for that), which means that, during my daily and perfunctory scrutiny of the resident fruit and veg, they cunningly display a bright and unblemished yellow face to my gaze, so concealing the state of their sordid, rotting nether regions……that is, until I pick one of them up and my tactile senses let me know that all is not well long before I my eyes have grasped the enormity of the deception. On seeing the green mildewed skin my first impulse has traditionally been to throw the offending fruit into the bin, but a lemon grows in value when you realise that they they don’t grow on trees…or something critical doesn’t grow on trees. The end result of this manifestation of penury is that I now cut off the offending bit revealing a truncated but perfectly good lemon. But it’s a hard habit to break. How simple it would be to only buy one or two lemons at a time, as I do with heads of garlic, but it’s a discipline I have yet to master. Lemons, being amongst my favourite flavour enhancers, are always in demand yet, so often, it is only half a lemon that I need. This means that the fridge has a small array of half lemons that are there because I forget that they are there, so, when I reach for a lemon I go to the bowl of lemons rather than use the forgotten half lemons. Let’s be frank, I just can’t manage my lemons. I must remember that a lemon is not just for Christmas, nor is it forever…..it’s for today.
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