Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Right trousers, wrong salesman
The place is strewn with the detritus of Christmas presents, and a miasma of Brussel-Sprout farts lingers in the air like the ghost of Christmas past. It is a shame that nobody smokes cigars these days - nothing brings back memories of childhood Christmases like the smell of stale cigar-smoke on Boxing Day morning.
Last night, Green-Eye's impoverished boyfriend gave her a brand new, pretty and shiny little iPad. Within five minutes of getting it out of the box, she was talking to and looking at his sister and her little boy in Canada - in such real-time clarity that it was like looking through a small serving-hatch which had been neatly cut through the wall into the creche of the room next door.
Then we settled down to two hours of Downton Abbey on a much bigger - five feet across - screen. Having never seen a single episode of this before, my abiding impression is that is was not as good as Gosford Park.
What excited me the most about the four hours of T.V. I watched yesterday (including the seasonally festive brutality of East Enders and the first half of 'Love Actually') was the trailer for the new series of 'Sherlock' - I can't wait! Two of the cameramen who shot it are mates of mine and go into my pub, but - for some reason - I have no desire to talk about the brilliant series with them. I just want to watch it, that's all.
On Monday, I braced myself against the wind and rain and set out to stand in the 100 yard-long queue to the butchers to pick up the bits of geese I had ordered about two weeks before. Within about half an hour, I was inside and dripping all over their floor as I handed the ticket to one of the jolly (but stressed) men behind the counter.
He rummaged around in various stainless steel cupboards, then stood up to examine one page of a ream of order-sheet details. After about ten more minutes of this, he admitted to me that he must have sold them to someone else, and I really think that I know who this was - a friend of ours who said that she was going to order exactly the same quantity as us, on our advice. I stayed remarkably calm, and I can only think that was because I had been broken down by the severe weather-exposure for the last three-quarters of an hour.
He told me to get back into the queue in around an hours time (he didn't use an apostrophe, so why should I?), as he was expecting a delivery of some more. I decided that I would go to the other end of town and get some new trousers from M & S while I was waiting, even though I could just as easily have spent the time in the queue again by walking to the back end of it.
About an hour later, I had got home and out of my wet clothes, and began cutting off all the labels to the woollen trousers, which fitted me perfectly. I stood there and asked H.I. what she thought of them, and she pointed to something which I had not previously noticed, stuck to the side of one leg. It was the electronic security tag which the idiot in the shop had forgotten to take off.
I don't know if any of you shoplifters out there have ever tried to remove one of these tags without the correct magnet, but let me assure you that short of cutting a one-inch hole through the fabric to which they are attached, it is pretty much impossible. The air turned blue.
So I put all my wet clothes back on again, and went out to make the quarter mile journey through wind and rain so that I could scream foul abuse at the man behind the counter as I waited for him to remove the tag. Then I remembered that Step-Daughter works in retail, and her clothes shop is a mere 200 yards away from our compact but adorable city apartment.
As I walked through the door of her shop, the alarm went off and she took one look at the M & S bag I was carrying, immediately and correctly assessing the situation. Not for one minute did she believe that I had stolen the trousers - I didn't even have to show her the receipt.
I had noticed that when I was leaving Marks and Spencer and standing between the theft-detectors buttoning up my coat against the storm outside, the alarm was bleeping and flashing, but thought nothing of it so I carried on my buttoning before casually walking through and down the street.
No store-detective came running up to detain me and inspect the contents of the bag - I wish they had.
It was so easy to walk out of the shop with the security tag setting off all the alarms, that I think I might make a future career from stealing clothes to order, with Step-Daughter as an accomplice to remove the tags later.
Then again, I may not. The amount of elderly people who shop-lift by accident in a confused state of mind that still get mercilessly prosecuted is a sobering statistic.