Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I can’t wait for Christmas to be over. I live in the West End of London, which gets unbearably busy at this point with shoppers and drunks hunting presents and/or each other in packs. (Just why shoppers feel the need to travel to the West End I have no idea. We have EXACTLY the same shops as any major high street – it’s just that our prices are higher! Long gone are the days when the West End had lovely little boutiques and individual shops, the major chains priced out the independents years ago.)

Anyway, I picked up my 18-month-old daughter Maisy from nursery and went into the ever so slightly cheaper than normal book shop opposite as my almost-brother-in-law wants a “film book” for Christmas. (As another aside, he’s also getting a subscription to a chess magazine for 35 quid, some special shampoo he wanted and now he also wants this fucking book, at least another tenner. Do I sound mean? Well he said he’s going to spend a fiver on me. Cool fscking beans.)

So, I’m in the shop with a happily talkative Maisy in the pram being just about as cute as it is possible for a toddler to be; merrily chirping away, and I ask ever so politely for a “Helliwells or something like that”. In response I get a snide, over there under the sign and the Virgin is on the floor.” So, I wheel the pushchair through the shop, performing complex three point turns around other browsers and avoiding piles of crap art books, and get to the place where the shop assistant waved. I can’t see a sign for the Film Books, or the Helliwells, or indeed the Virgin book on the floor, but I must be in the right area as there are books on film noir, various actors and what-have-you. So I browse around a bit, check out the adjoining racks, and can’t find a thing. At this point Maisy has gotten as bored as me and starts to cry just a little bit. I keep looking over at the assistant, who watched me the whole way over - like I’m going to grab for a paperback and run for my life - but now he’s pointedly ignoring me. So after a while I just call across the shop for some help and he huffs across, pints and says “over there where I said, under the sign”. So this sign turns out to be the shop sign, the one pointing outside, not one saying film. Anyway, I had a brief look at the books, made a few disparaging remarks to another ‘shopper’, and left. Is it me? I don’t think so, he was deliberately rude, vague and relished taking out a little of his “man old enough to have a proper job but just working in a bargain book shop” frustration on me.

So anyway, I head home and as we cross over the main junction to get to the flat we have to bypass one of the busy corners with meandering tourists/shoppers/drunks milling about and this women pulling a suitcase and trying to edit a SMS text message on a mobile phone is weaving around the pavement in front of me, obviously walking a little slowly as she tries to do two things at once. I nip around her and am a little way down the street when the fscker steps on the back of my heals! She’s actually sped up, just to give me a little kick! And recall here that I’m pushing a child in a pram. So I turn to see who it was and by then I’m at my entrance to the flat anyway, so as she pasts I say something sarcastic about apology accepted, or whatever – then she actually says, well you cut me up! So the fucker really had deliberately stepped on the back of my heal because I had the temerity to walk in front of her. Argh!

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