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Patrick Stevens

Former mathematics student at the University of Cambridge; now a software engineer.

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Martin was walking through the farmers’ market. He had scored off nearly everything on his shopping list, but one item stubbornly remained: he needed some kaki fruit for a new sorbet recipe he wanted to try out.

High and low he searched, weaving in and out of the stalls, but his mission proved… well, let us say that it was not successful.

Finally, he thought to give up and place his problem into better hands than his own. He forged towards the market’s finest attraction, the Personal Shopper (“Guaranteed to find your stuff!”). Her name was Posy, and she had been a fixture here for the last twenty years: that was when she first noticed the curious way that no-one could ever find quite what they wanted at the weirdly inefficient market. Posy was uncannily good at navigating the cobbled rows between the stalls, and had an unerring eye for picking out exactly what the customer required.

Martin poured out his problems. “Please! I need your help to find a kaki fruit. The recipe will be ruined without it.”

Posy smiled, assumed a look of determination, and forged off, leaving Martin to scurry behind her as she ducked first left, then left again, then (for some reason) a third and a fourth time. After what had to be the eighth or ninth left turn through the higgledy-piggledy stalls, with Martin hopelessly lost, she stopped in front of a little tent whose sign read “Children educated and tutored in etiquette: inquire within”. She raised the entrance flap, and an elderly lady emerged.

Angry, baffled and confused, Martin raised his voice, ignoring the proper-and-prim-looking lady from the tent. “Why haven’t you found me a kaki fruit? I thought you knew this market like the back of your hand!”

“Haven’t you heard?” said Posy incredulously. “It’s better to ask for a governess than seek persimmons.”