I work Saturdays in a shop on H____ Road in Hull. Let’s call the shop Oddbury’s. Every Saturday I write down the funny things I hear. These are real conversations with real people about the things they’re buying and what they mean to them. Names have been changed to protect people’s identities. Paul is my co – worker.
Saturday 27th February 2016, 4.45 p.m. Paul 59, shop assistant, Assi (Ahsan) owner 45, Amanda 39, works in a livery yard.
Assi is having a cup of tea at the counter. He has recently acquired a stock of paperback books which he has arranged on a carousel next to the counter.
Amanda: Are these modern?
Assi: What? The books? Latest ones out love. These is our Best – Sellers range; blockbusters, new releases onto the market. That’s what we specialise in see?
Amanda: [Glancing around the shop] Really?
Assi: For sure. What kind of thing you in the market for?
Amanda: Well, I’m just looking… These books…
Amanda: Do they have sex scenes in them?
Assi: No… No not at all. We don’t deal in that kind of… you know… we don’t sell porno.
Amanda: Oh, I see.
Amanda: Well, the thing is, I buy them for reading in the bath you see…
Assi: Oh…right? [Looking a bit uncertain about this turn in the conversation] Well… [Not sure how to proceed – Assi has never read any of these books. Indeed, it is likely that, other than the people who wrote them, no one has ever read any of these books]… Well, see this one… [he picks up a random book with a with a picture of a doctor on the front of it]… This one’s about a doctor who has sex [pointing to the picture of the doctor]… with his patients…
Amanda: [Looks horrified]
Paul: Isn’t that illegal?
Amanda: I would have thought so. I mean, isn’t that abuse?
Assi: [Hurriedly]… It is set in France though…
Paul: Oh well!
Amanda: That explains it…
Assi: Did I say his patients? [Turning over the book and looking at the back] I meant… his nurses.
Amanda: Oh right! Has it got lesbian stuff in it?
Assi: Definitely not!
Amanda: Ah right, I’m not bothered then…
Assi: Well, some of the nurses are… you know… they think about each other in that way.
Amanda: [Shaking her head] Nah.
Assi: Erm… this one [he picks up a book called ‘Ranch Girl’] – this is a lesbian thing…[looking to Paul for help…]
[Paul hurriedly turns away and starts inspecting a display of fillers and sealants as though it were the roof of the Sistine Chapel.]
Amanda: Yeah? What’s it about?
Assi: Erm… lesbians.
Assi: Yeah… they live on a ranch near… [he taps the blurb on the back of the book]… where was it now? Near Scunthrope!
Amanda: What kind of ranch is it?
Assi: They farm poultry mainly, and some pigs…
Amanda: A chicken farm?
Assi: More of a chicken ranch really.
Amanda: Doesn’t sound very…
Assi: No, no, it’s a good one this… quality erm, you know… some quality scenes… if you’re reading in the bath…
Assi: Yeah. Read it myself this one. Not in the bath obviously. I have them next to the loo so when I’m taking a… when I’m sat down on the loo, I can just open a book and have a good old… read of it.
Amanda. I think I’ll leave it. You got any rawl plugs?
Paul: [Emphatically] Yes.
Amanda bought a pack of red rawl plugs. She was very happy with her purchase.
Says Assi: I don’t believe in reading, I mean, unless it’s an invoice or something – ‘cos – these cash and carry places, they’ll rip you off soon as look at you so you got to check what they charging you for, you know? See stories though, that people have made up – why would you read that stuff when there’s so much real – life stuff happening in the world? I don’t read the paper though to be fair. Too depressing.
Says Paul: The last book I bought was a Haynes manual for a Ford Cortina.
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