A new friend of mine - we had recently moved to the Loire area - said one Tuesday morning, hey do you fancy an orgasmic ten minutes. I think I said something like, okay, as long as it's not dangerous or doesn't cost too much. We'd driven to Saumur - the local big town where said friend had to visit a cash and carry, the mysterious ten minute thing to be undertaken first. She parked and pointed to a blue and white fronted building embellished with the word (?) NOZ. Come on you'll love it! It's total chaos.
I'm not sure if I'd term the experience exactly orgasmic, more mind-bogglingly weird and certainly satisfying to those who love finding a bargain. NOZ, or at least our local one, is a random, ramshackle shop full of stuff that is dangerously near, or just over sell buy dates; stuff that never should have made it beyond the fevered imagination of a marketing bod, and over-surplus goods in general. As appose to places like 'everything's a pound' shops or Action - a more organised and rather clinical version of NOZ - the joy is in the chaos. Failed packets of terrible desserts jostle next to bottles of tomato juice, shampoo, job lots of too-spicy-for-the French-market chili paste, wine, out of season Christmas biscuits, towels, dog snacks, vegan products that never should have pushed in this meat-hefty country; toys, bizarre Spanish cakes, giant plastic tubs of mayonnaise . . . and so on and so on.
You never know what will be in there. Sometimes we have found amazingly useful things like excellent quality tinned tomatoes, darjeeling loose tea, watercolour sketch books, and once, a very nice white wine which retailed at about ten times the NOZ price when checked online, and with a greyhound on the label -what more could we wish for!
And what about the name? Or more to the point, the bizarre emblem of a man either screaming or laughing hysterically which looks like it was most certainly a drunken lunch napkin drawing. I love it.
- Alors, que-ce que on va faire - so, what we gonna do about this image, eh?
. . . What about this?
Uh? an electrocuted posh bastard? Or is it a terrified hedgehog - with a bow tie?
Oh, I don't know but this biro's run out and the meeting's in seven minutes, s'fine . . . Waiter - two cognacs and the bill.