Viewers of the television detective series Endeavour will know about Inspector Thursday’s sandwiches. Sitting in a pub at lunchtime each day, Morse quickly works out the sequence of the fillings and each day can tell his superior what Mrs Thursday has put in her husband’s sandwiches for that day.
A colleague in Cheltenham used to similarly tell me what was in my sandwiches. ‘Cheese and pickle, Ian.’
Of course, he was right. The sandwiches were always cheese and pickle.
‘Ian, why do you always have cheese and pickle sandwiches?’
‘I like cheese and pickle sandwiches.’
‘They taste just as nice every day.’
It was good to be making cheese and pickle sandwiches this evening.
I have had no work since the summer. More than forty applications, four interviews, and nothing. Then a phone call on Monday evening offering me a job, no interview. ‘When can you start?’
Undoubtedly an offer attributable to my previous principal, it wrought a complete change in my mood. I would be earning money again, but more importantly I would have a routine.
So I made my lunch this evening and put it into a Tupperware box. Two slices of brown bread spread with butter, something more healthy than the chemical alternatives. Two pieces of mature cheddar, the type that has the maturity to crumble when it is cut.
Having put on a stone since last year, the Tunnock’s caramel wafer, that was always part of my lunch, has had to be forsaken. It is a breach with a family tradition from my grandmother’s time of eating a large proportion of the Scottish company’s output.
It is too early for Cox’s apples, so Braeburns will have to suffice. No other apple compares with Cox’s for taste, except a Russet, and they are almost impossible to find.
With great ceremony, I placed into the box three tomatoes, in memory of Bob Mortimer’s mum. It was Bob Mortimer on his fishing programme who talked about his mother going to the shop every day to buy three tomatoes as a way of having routine in her life. It has become a routine I deliberately repeat.
The lunchbox is placed into my grey canvas schoolbag and the bag is set ready to be taken to the car.
The job is in Athboy in Co Meath, some sixty kilometres away. I have already worked out a route that avoids the tolls on the M50 and the M3. It is seven minutes longer and is projected to last fifty-four minutes. I shall watch the clock for the exact duration.
Perhaps the routines are the product of an obsessive-compulsive tendency, but they are reassuring, they are a statement everything is organised, that everything has been done.