Was it my fault for using a discount supermarket?
Where a shiny whole pound coin in the mechanism is power enough to stop the theft of large metal trolleys. Where large metal trolleys have anything but shiny whole pound coins shoved into their mechanism to enable their theft. The place where even good manners and vowels are on permanent reduction?
Yes. Yes it probably was.
But it was also CHRISSSTTTMMAAASSSSSS!!!!!!!!! as a young Noddy Holder would’ve written down before this supermarket permanently trapped him inside one of their tannoy’s. Where he was doomed to perform every December for eternity to a faceless audience of Ugg-booted, tracksuited, X Factor wanna-sees (other reality talent shows are available).
Now I’ve queued all over the world, or so it seems. In fact if I’ve learned anything from my fairly limited exploration of the worlds longest queues (Channel 4, Saturday 9pm) it is that they’re very much like an anal probe at the doctors, the more you wriggle and complain the longer it takes and the more painful it becomes. I was therefore lying back and thinking of England whilst standing in the queue of Netto’s this morning.
I am a regular visitor to this very convenient store, located ¼ mile from my home. You can smell the Parka Rabanne and hear the non-filtered expletives from my front door.
An old couple were being served in my line. A 20-something man and his mother, or possibly his MILF, were behind the old couple and directly in front of me. We were going nowhere fast yet this didn’t suit the 20-something man who managed, through great skill I thought, to time his tuts and f**ks with every beep of the till.
The old couple took their time packing their shopping back into the trolley which I was sure was filled with a real shiny whole pound coin. This irritated 20-something even more but not as much as when the old couple asked for a newspaper, then a packet of cigarettes, at the end of packing.
He erupted in a shower of swearing that soaked the old couple. In a packed supermarket everybody suddenly found something tremendously interesting that they’d never seen before located on the tips of their shoes. He continued, buoyed by everyone else’s shoe-gazing, taking it as a sign of obedience, acceptance or even a bow!
I don’t know why I interfered. God knows I don’t. He wasn’t harming me, I didn’t know the old couple and he wasn’t smaller than me or infirm! My shoes were crying out for attention but for some reason I failed to look down.
“Oi, dickhead”, I tried to snarl in best Northampton parlance, “Leave her alone, she’s a little old lady”.
I cannot write his response down as my heart had suddenly quadrupled in speed and all I could wonder was would my wife and children still be able to visit me on the ward on Christmas Day, do they liquefy Christmas dinner in hospital so you can suck it through a straw and please God don’t let Noel Edmonds still be doing the rounds!!
Suffice to say that some un-pleasantries were exchanged in the queue to the bafflement of the rest of the customers who could now tear theirselves away from their feet as somebody else had engaged the 20-something.
I was neither scared of his ranting nor sure of myself. In the films the wisecracks flow thick and fast - but I’m no Eddie Murphy. The only one I can recall was in response to his offer to “step outside” to which I replied I would have to as I didn’t live in the supermarket. This enraged what little sense and sensibilities he hadn’t worn away through thinking too hard.
His mother/lover approached me through all of this and started jabbing her finger to my chest and explaining how I “knew nuffink” and should “leaf it art” and other such gilded prose. I ignored her completely – something to which I was sure she was used to.
The 20-something left the store like a pantomime villain with his pantomime dame, threatening violence towards me if I stepped outside and informing me I was like an exploding Coke machine – bang, out of order!
Step outside I did but he was nowhere to be seen. His mother/lover was too large to be hiding anywhere and his jewellery would’ve rattled if he was within 20 feet of me.
Then I heard it – like Santa’s sleigh bells as he emerged from a car right next to the exit gate, my only exit gate. Right I thought, this is stupid and I’m cold. It’s Get Carter and High Noon time. So with my head held high I marched purposefully toward the gate with a steely stare and a shopping bag full of Peek Frean Assortments and Mackesons.
It worked a treat as he fumbled with the door lock, desperately trying to open it as I passed him by. All I could hear was a mumbled , “mum, open the door, the door mum, open it”. Oh, well that and a host of triumphant bugles!
So the moral of the story is that if you stand up to a bully you too can be Gary Cooper in High Noon. Then again if you stand up to a bully then you too can also be Michael Caine in Get Carter. As it’s Christmas I think I’ll open my biscuits and stout and just Get High.