Matt Chorley: I'll buy fruit in laybys when it starts raining cream

Share
Related Topics

Every strawberry must dream of passing away at Wimbledon.

Drowning in a slick of double cream, gobbled by a tanned tennis lovely, washed down with champagne. Strawberry heaven. Other strawberries would remark: "What a way to go. It's what he would have wanted." Others would settle for bowing out on top of a spectacular pavlova or, at a push, whizzed into a milkshake. But no self-respecting soft fruit wants their final moments to see spent battered, bruised and swelteringly hot in a boot of an uninsured car, hoping some weary driver will stop and buy a punnet from a layby.

Last weekend every few miles on the A303 there were roadside hawkers hoping for a motorist with the munchies. Who does that? Who is happily driving along one minute, wishing Steve Wright would stop saying "love the show" while racing against the satnav's predicted arrival time, and suddenly decides: what I really want to do is stop here, in the middle of nowhere, and pay a complete stranger £3 for a pot of strawberries covered in exhaust fumes. How bad must the strawberries be that they cannot be sold at supermarkets or greengrocers, carefully dissected for pub grub or blended into a Fruit Corner, but can only be sold from the back of an M-reg Sierra in a layby?

Nothing good ever happened in a layby. The only people you see there normally are trying to persuade a toddler to wee.

People who obsess about washing fruit put me on edge. It's hard to know what grizzlies they think could lurk on a nectarine that will be killed with a quick splash under the kitchen sink. But strawberries from a layby would need a wash. A real deep clean. Cillit Bang at a bare minimum. I would call in the team who blast MRSA from hospital cubicles.

But who knows where these strawberries have come from? If they've fallen off the back of a lorry they'll be badly bruised. They're not easy to transport. It's not even clear why it is strawberry outlets, of all fruits, that spring up on Britain's A-roads. It can't simply be that people buy them because they are there. The ultimate impulse purchase. Would the same people buy grapes at a bus stop? Would swimmers in a public baths tread water to buy a watermelon from the poolside?

There are foods which are good for driving – jelly babies, Mini Cheddars, apples. And there are things which should never be consumed in a moving vehicle – sushi, soup, spaghetti bolognese. Anyone who has tried eating a BLT at the wheel will know a roundabout is guaranteed to spill the L and the T all over your trousers.

But strawberries? There is no way you could fit a chocolate fountain for dipping on the dashboard. And where to put the stems?

As with so many things, including the reason so many A-roads are straight, we may well have to thank the Romans for the phenomenon of roadside strawberries. Caesar and his pals apparently thought strawberries had medicinal properties, capable of relieving bad breath, throat infections and feelings of melancholy. And we've all had a car journey like that.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project