Talking Shop #5

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, 3.32 a.m. Jim 62, works in a secondhand electricals shop, Paul 59, shop assistant, Assi (Ahsan) owner 45, Anka 22, works in a potato processing factory.

Assi carries two very large boxes from his van which is parked on the pavement outside the shop. They are so large that he cannot fit through the door so he gets wedged in it.

Paul: Oh look busy. Here comes India’s answer to Alan Sugar.

Assi is struggling furiously in the doorway: Anyone gonna’ give me hand here or what?

Neither Paul nor Jim move a muscle. Jim is leaning on the counter and rolling a cigarette. He glances at Paul. Paul is meticulously rearranging boxes of cigarette papers on the counter so that they are all stacked neatly. He glances at Jim. They both glance at me.

After wrestling the boxes through the doorway they are placed in front of the counter. Assi sits down on one of them and dabs his brow with a handkerchief. He is of indeterminate age but on one of his birth certificates it says that he was born in 1969.

Assi: Got some quality stuff to go out Paul.

Paul: Did you get any mouse traps off that guy?

Assi: No. No mouse traps.

Paul: Tsk! I told you Assi. There’s an infestation of mice down here at the moment. People are coming in every day asking for mouse traps. I promised that woman with the three legged cat that I’d get her some.

Assi: Who was that?

Paul: That woman whose cat had to have it’s back leg amputated. It can’t keep up with the mice anymore.

Assi: Oh her! Yeah, she’s been coming in everyday asking about mouse traps. Mouse traps this mouse traps bloody that.

Paul: But you didn’t get any?

Assi: No, I didn’t get any today cos the thing is the guy who I know who gets me the mouse traps was in Leeds today so I’ve phoned him but then he didn’t phone me back but I spoke to his brother but his brother works out at Huddersfield but he’s in Leeds so you know, so you know… so no. but I got these instead:

He opens one of the boxes with a pen – knife and folds back the lid.

Assi: Thomas the Tank Engine innit?!

He hands around boxes containing models of small, blue plastic trains. The trains are blue but that is their only resemblance to Thomas the Tank Engine. It’s face looks more like someone has painted a picture of Edwina Curry on the front of a train.

Paul: Well that’s not gonna kill a fucking mouse.

Assi: What? No, these is for the kids train sets you know? They love it all this Thomas and the Tank Engine and all that. My little niece, she’s always watchin’ it on the telly.

Jim: Here – have you seen this? What does that say?

He hands one of the boxes to Assi and indicates the writing on it.

Assi: (squinting) I ain’t got no glasses with me today. Had to drive back from Goole at about ten mile an hour ‘cos I couldn’t see the friggin’ road. Track train or something… here Paul… read this.

Paul: (sighing loudly) ‘This happy little track – train is coming in your tunnel!’

Jim: Say what?

Paul: (Puts his glasses on) That’s what is says – ‘This happy little track – train is coming in your tunnel.’ Are you sure these are Thomas the Tank Assi?

Assi: Polish version innit? It’s the Polish version of Thomas, that’s why they were cheap. Got em off a Polish guy who has a stall on the Saturday market. He couldn’t sell ’em so…

Paul shakes his head: We needed mouse traps and dusters and wire brushes and stuff like that – things people have been asking for. All the stuff I put on that list for you.

Assi: Alright, alright… fucking hell Paul. Keep your hair on innit? I don’t know what’s got into you at the moment. Menopause or something.

Paul: What’s in that other box?

Assi: Freddy Mercury statues.

Paul: What?! Just what we need… How much are you putting them out for?

Assi: Tenner?

Paul: (incredulous) A tenner? More like two – fifty.

Assi: Two – fifty! Don’t be ridiculous Paul. That’s bloody ridiculous man. People round here haven’t got two hundred and fifty quid in their back pocket. Not unless they’ve ram – raided Natwest.

Paul: I meant two pound fifty!

Jim: (singing) I want to break free…

Paul: Well the door’s over there. Fuck off and break free out of it.

Anka enters the shop. Jim directs his singing at her and she hurries out of his way.

Assi opens the second box and pulls out a statuette of a man with black hair and a thick mustache. The figure is wearing a dinner jacket and bow tie. There is nothing to indicate that it is a statue of Freddy Mercury. It could be any man with black hair and a mustache.

Assi: (to me) Ludo, can we clear a space for these? Somewhere prominent you know? Maybe clear out some of these dog foods and stuff and have them here near the counter innit, where people can see them?

Paul: I thought you said these were Freddy Mercury? Looks more like Cliff Thorburn.

Jim: Who the snooker player? (Taking the figure from Assi and inspecting it) it’s got some writing on the bottom but it’s in foreign.

Paul: You couldn’t read it if it was in English!

Jim: That’s true… Looks more like Magnum P.I. though than Freddy Mercury.

Paul: Tom Selleck…

 

Jim: No, he was a cop in America, called Magnum. Don’t know what the P. and the I stood for. Phil or Pat probably… I mean, we’re going back a bit…

Paul: He was played by Tom Selleck! (Under his breath): God this is like working in a fucking old folks home.

Assi: Nah, the guy who sold me ’em told me it was Freddy Mercury. Looks a bit like Tom Selleck but it’s actually Freddy Mercury. Says so on the bottom innit?

Paul: But it’s written in Polish or something…

Assi: Yeah, it says Freddy Mercury statue. The guy told me.

Anka approaches the counter. She looks at the statue and points at it. She says something in a foreign language.

Jim: My sentiments entirely my darling. What beautiful eyes you have.

Anka says something to Jim.

Jim: You Polish?

Anka nods.

He shows her the base of the statue. She nods and laughs.

Anka (holding up one figure): One.

Assi: One of these? (To Jim and Paul): see what did I tell you? The Polish love Freddy Mercury.

Paul: Do they?

Assi: What are you talking about? Queen! One of the biggest bands in Poland! Wait ’till she tells her friends about these. They’ll all be putting them on the… what’s that thing called above the fire…

Paul: They’ll be putting them on the fire.

Jim: The mantelpiece.

Assi: They’ll all have them on the mantelpiece! (To Anka he exclaims loudly) No Polish home is complete without a statue of Freddy Mercury. Isn’t that right lovie?

She is a bit startled but shows him the base of the statue and says something in Polish.

Assi: Speaking very slowly and a bit too loudly): Top quality. Royal Dolchester – top brand. Royal! By appointment to the royalty. Prince Charles has got a couple of these. Do you know Prince Charles? (He puts his fingers behind his ears so that they stick out).

Anka looks very puzzled.

After much sign language and use of google translator it is determined that the statues are actually of a Nobel Prize winning Polish politician called Lech Wałęsa. 

Image result for lech walesa

 

Anka says of her purchase: I will give it to my husband as a joke. It is so bad.

Says Assi: We can just put a sticker over the bottom innit? People won’t know any different. Just say it’s Freddy Mercury. Or Cliff Thorburn. Depends which one sells better. Some people are into snooker. Some people like music. Some people like both! They’ll probably buy two innit?

Overheard anything funny lately? Please share it with us below. It’s more fun when you play along at home!

If you liked this, or even if you didn’t, you can read more from Hull’s finest at:

Talking Shop #1

Talking Shop #2

Talking Shop #3

Talking Shop #4

 

 

Charity Shopper #4

Charity shopper is a weekly blog post. The rules are that I have to visit a charity shop every week and purchase something from it. I cannot leave the shop without making a purchase and I must use the purchase at least once. I will report every week on what I buy.

It’s more fun if you play at home: this week you have the opportunity to win all of the items I purchased. This is partly to spread the word about the Charity Shopper blog and partly because my wife has threatened divorce if I bring anymore stuff home from charity shops.  To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is contact me on twitter @TmhoLudek or email: themagichappinessof@gmail.com and I’ll enter you into the prize draw. If your name is pulled out of the hat then you win: Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, Once upon a Potty by Alana Frankel and The Husband, A Ladybird Book by J. A. Hazely and J. P. Morris.

Last week’s winner was the unfathomably talented @RebekaLord. You should definitely check out her website: www.rebekalord.com and if you are in West Yorkshire over the next few weeks pop along to see her paintings as part of the Turps Correspond Exhibition at the Artworks 1830 Gallery between February 21st and March 20th.

Date: Mon 19.02.2016 

Shop: Dove House Hospice, 7 High St, Market Weighton, East Yorkshire YO43 3AQ

Purchase: Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, Once upon a Potty by Alona Frankel and The Husband, A Ladybird Book by J. A. Hazely and J. P. Morris.

Cost: £1.48

You’ve been quiet this week. A bit tardy with this post, it normally comes out on a Sunday!

I’ve been busy reading.

So I see. A book about potty training?

Once Upon a Potty is a book by Alona Frankel to help parents introduce the potty to their youngsters.

I see. Sounds…

Well, admittedly it’s not exactly…

No, I suppose not. Is it any good?

Erm well, it’s maybe not in the same category as some of Dostoevsky’s stuff but you know. It’s… different…

How so?

Well it’s got this picture in it:

A bottom for sitting and in it a little hole for making Poo - Poo. Once upon a Potty by Alana Fra
A bottom for sitting and in it a little hole for making Poo – Poo. Once upon a Potty by Alana Frankel

Oh! I see what you mean. That’s a little awkward.

The book is regarded as a classic by some and you can buy it on Amazon. For $50.

Say what?

That’s right. Original hardback copies from the 1980s change hands for $50 or more. There are 3 on sale at Amazon.com at the moment. Here’s another odd picture. Is it just me or does the poo look like angel delight?

Later on she made Wee-Wee and Poo-Poo but not exactly into the potty.
Later on she made Wee-Wee and Poo-Poo but not exactly into the potty.

This reviewer from Goodreads.com won’t be buying it though:

“The ugliest, nastiest potty book ever written. What moronic parent would actually WANT to read this one to a kid. “Wee-Wee” and “Poo-Poo”? FEH!
(And please don’t tell me it trained your kid […]. Your kid trained because they were READY!)

There are TONS of good potty books if you insist on reading them to your kids. But don’t expect them to magically train your child–it ain’t gonna happen. Better still, relax and stop obsessing over potty training. Is it going to get them into college someday?”

Oh dear. Alright shouty! Well, it might be a bit difficult to survive at college if you haven’t learnt to use the toilet by that stage. Surely you’re potty trained though?

It’s not for me. I’ve been potty training my daughter.

Our daughter.

Sorry?

Our daughter. Because I am you and you are me. You’re interviewing yourself, remember?

Oh yes.

Why is that?

What?

That you’re interviewing yourself?

Erm… well I don’t know really. I don’t really have any friends to talk to about this stuff… Why do you ask? Do you think I need more friends?

Do you think you need more friends?

Umm, well I’m married and I have children. Do  I still need friends? None of my friends seem to have friends. Well I mean, Rob has lots of friends. He’s divorced though. Lots of his friends come from a website that he’s on… does that count? Rob seems to be very happy.

Why do you think that?

He gets to go to the pub a fair bit and sometimes he rings me up during the early hours of the morning after he’s been to the pub to tell me about how happy he is. I don’t know if I’m as happy as Rob. I feel a bit worried about that. Do you think I should get divorced?

Perhaps you should read the ‘How it works’ book from Ladybird about The Husband before you make and rash decisions.

Ah yes, this is one of those  Ladybird books for adults. I remember reading these as a child…

Ladybird for adults books: How it works - The Husband A Ladybird book.
Ladybird for adults books: How it works – The Husband A Ladybird book.

Brings back happy memories doesn’t it?

Ha ha, yes it does.

Kind of.

Feels and looks exactly like the originals, just funnier…

This is what the inside of Tim's head looks like.
This is what the inside of Tim’s head looks like.
Adrian's wife sometimes cries herself to sleep
The husband likes things to be in order.

 

That’s because the authors, Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris, have taken the original Ladybird pictures and put satirical little barbs with them to fit the images.

I’m not sure it’s helping with my anxious feeling though. All the women in the book seem fairly unhappy. So do the men too.

If you’re feeling anxious then maybe you need to read Alain de Boton’s Status Anxiety.

I have been. That’s what made me feel anxious. Having read his incisive study of modern social mores I realise that not having any friends means I lack social status – the world doesn’t love me in the same way that it loves Beyonce and… and… Joe Pasquale. Do you think I should tell my friends about how I’m feeling?

I wouldn’t if I were you.

You are me.

Don’t be facetious. That could be why you haven’t got any friends. You should definitely not mention how you’re feeling to your friends. 

Really?

Absolutely. De Botton says that you are craving the love and admiration of your friends and ‘the quest for love from the world is a […] secret and shameful tale.’

My head is hurting a bit…

De Boton says, ‘to feel that we are taken no notice of necessarily disappoints the most ardent desires of human nature.’

My most ardent desire is to be noticed.

Is that why you’re talking to yourself at the kitchen table at 1.00am and writing down what you say as though it’s an interview?

Umm, I think so…

I thought so too.

God this is confusing!

My head is hurting a bit.

 

The Charity Shopper returns on Monday. 

To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is contact me on twitter @TmhoLudek or email: themagichappinessof@gmail.com and I’ll enter you into the prize draw.

If you’ve enjoyed this week’s foray into secondhand land then check out the previous blog posts here:

Charity Shopper #1

Charity Shopper #2

Charity Shopper #3

Talking shop #1

Talking shop #2

Talking shop #3

Talking shop #4

 

Talking Shop #4

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 13th February 2016, 11.12 a.m. Jim 62, works in a secondhand electricals shop, Paul 59, shop assistant, Trish 34 Housewife, Aaron 15 Trish’s son.

Trish: You got any better razors than these?

Paul: Those are good ones. I use those. You can’t go wrong for a pound with those.

Trish: I’ve had these before, to do my legs. Cut me to ribbons they did. I looked like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre betime I’d finished. Still, they’re not for me – they’re for him (jabbing a thumb at Aaron).

Paul: Oh right.

Trish: Yeah. He needs to sort his hair out, don’t you?

Aaron is dressed in a track suit. He is much taller than Trish. At about 6ft tall he towers over his mother who approaches the height of her son’s shoulder. He is wearing a beanie hat and has his hood up so we can’t see what’s wrong with his hair.

Aaron: Grunts and gazes up at the ceiling.

Trish: I said don’t you?

Aaron: Ignores her and carries on staring at the ceiling.

Trish: (Shouting) Honestly, I have had it up to here with him. He’s been suspended from school haven’t you? I said haven’t you? Tell the man why.

Before giving Aaron a chance to respond she continues…

Because of his hair cut, that’s why! Monday, I gets a phone call from the school. Can I go and pick him up? Can I hell like. What’s up I say? He’s got an extreme hair cut. I says, what the hell are you talking about? I mean, I don’t call a short back and sides extreme. I mean, he puts gel in it but what lad his age doesn’t these days?

Jim: They look like Elvis with these quiffs these young lads that I see around. That’s a throw back to when I was young. If I still had hair… (he motions to Aaron) … I say, if I still had hair…

Aaron completely ignores him and Trish takes up the baton again…

Trish: Well this assistant head, I’ve spoken to him before – last time he got suspended – Oh, it’s not the first time, is it? I said is it?

Aaron ignores her.

Trish: No it’s not (she answers here own question). Tell them what you got suspended for last time. Go on.

Aaron ignores her.

Trish: Well I’ll tell them. It was that, what was it?

Aaron: Jesus Army…

Trish: What? What did you say? You are a SARKY. LITTLE. BASTARD.

Aaron: You asked me!

Trish: It was this religious thing that they were having in assembly. What was it?

Aaron: (Infuriated)I just said! The Jesus Army.

Trish: Don’t you give me any of that backchat you SARCASTIC. LITTLE… you are a sarcastic little bastard and one day that tongue of yours is going to… Anyway, what was it? This religious organisation, I’ve no idea who they are. I mean, me and Aaron, we’re not particularly religious are we? I mean, I believe in God but I don’t particularly want it shoved down my throat and I don’t want it shoved down my son’s either so I’m happy for him to express his opinion but, tell them what you said.

She doesn’t wait

Trish: I’ll tell them. Well one of them, these

Aaron: Jesus Army

Trish: Blokes is up there on stage talking away in front of the whole school…

Aaron: Year 10

Trish: Or whatever, talking about God and what not, and the Assistant Head, the one I spoke to, he did tell me on the phone that this fella had a look of Jesus but I mean, that’s no excuse, and our Aaron’s got up – stood up, in front of the whole school…

Aaron: Year 10.

Trish: And shouted – ‘Get back on the cross Jesus!’

There is a stunned silence.

Paul: What did he get suspended for this time?

Trish: Well, let me get back to where I am… Where was I?

Jim: His hair, you were on the phone to the Head.

Trish: (causticaly) It was the Assistant Head. The Head won’t speak to me. Anyway… yeah, he’s said, (adopts a ‘posh’ voice) ‘well Mrs Rankin, he might have left home with a short back and sides but that is most definitely not what he has turned up at the school gates with.’

Pauses for effect. Now everyone is staring at Aaron who is smirking ever so slightly.

Trish: Well, when he got home… tell them… tell them what you’ve got…He’s only gone and got the German flag shaved into his head. The German bloody flag!

Jim: It’s all this Dutch Land ’93. They’re all into. My daughter is. It’s one of these foreign things on telly.

Paul: (Lets out a sigh and rolls his eyes) Deutschland ’83. 1983, not ’93.

Jim: It’s quite good actually. A fair bit of shagging in it.

Aaron: Let’s out a suppressed laugh.

Trish: (exploding at her son. This provocation is more than her nerves can take.) YOU LOOK – LIKE A. FUCKING. IDIOT!

Aaron: Alright…

Trish: No! It is very much not alright! And you are going to shave that stupid bloody thing off your head as soon as we get home.

Aaron: I’m allowed to express an opinion.

Jim: Oh aye? Which opinion are you expressing at the moment. You look like a Rastafarian with that hat on. Show us what you got…

Trish: NO! Do not encourage him… it’s more than my nerves…

Aaron whips off the hat defiantly and glares, shaking with rage, at his mother. His head is shaved to the skin apart from where he has left unshaven, standing proud, in thick, jet – black hair, the shape of an enormous swastika.

Jim and Paul burst into hysterical laughter, falling around on the counter. There are tears rolling down their cheeks.

Aaron storms out of the shop and shouts, ‘fuck off!’ after him.

Says Trish of her purchase: I’m still buying these. I’ll hold him down and shave his fucking head myself if I’ve got to. ‘Cos I tell you. I will not tolerate it. I will not tolerate him lying in bed at home for another week fiddling with his bits while he’s watching Jeremy Kyle. He can get his head shaved and fuck off from under my feet back to that bloody school where he belongs.

Overheard anything funny lately? Please share it with us below. It’s more fun when you play along at home!

Read more from Hull’s finest at:

Talking Shop #1

Talking Shop #2

Talking Shop #3

 

Charity Shopper #3

Charity shopper is a weekly blog post. The rules are that I have to visit a charity shop every week and purchase something from it. I cannot leave the shop without making a purchase and I must use the purchase at least once. I will report every week on what I buy.

It’s more fun if you play at home: this week you have the opportunity to win all of the items I purchased. This is partly to spread the word about the Charity Shopper blog and partly because my wife has threatened divorce if I bring anymore stuff home from charity shops.  To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is contact me on twitter @TmhoLudek or email: themagichappinessof@gmail.com and I’ll enter you into the prize draw. If your name is pulled out of the hat then you win: 3 vinyl records by the incomparably smooth Sacha Distel, a bizarre book about a nose by Nikolai Gogol and 2 lovely postcards that you can send to friends (if you have any) or turn into decorative features to stick on your bedroom wall. Or the fridge. Or anywhere else…

Date: Mon 15.02.2016 

Shop: Oxfam, Unit 3, 2 Railway Street, , Pocklington , YO42 2QZ

Purchase: 3 Vinyl Records by Sacha Distel, 2 postcards, 1 book – The Nose by Nikolai Gogol

Cost: £4.46

 

You brought home three records by someone called Sacha Distel. Some kind of German techno DJ?

Hmm, not quite.

Swedish house?

Erm…

Serbian trance?

Distel was one of France’s greatest cultural exports.

Along with Bridget Bardot and camembert…

He was an internationally recognised crooner in the Tony Bennet/Dean Martin mould. Interestingly Distel and Bridget Bardot were an item towards the end of the 1950s.

It didn’t work out?

He went on to marry a downhill skier.

Bardot was a bit piste off?

Hmm. She went on to…

Do you get what I did there?

Yes. She went on to…

Piste off! Ha ha ha. Because he married a skier…

Well, au contraire actually…

A little early for a drink isn’t it?

It means on the contrary. Distel apparently learned of their break up in a press release issued by Bardot in 1959, so if anyone was, ahem, piste off, it was him. Bardot has had a turbulent personal life: married four times and a string of public affairs with high profile celebrities. Says her biographer Marie-Dominique Lelièvre: “She is the first woman to have publicly displayed her sexual freedom. Before Bardot, a woman who changed lover at the slightest whim was called a bitch, a salope. After Bardot, such a woman was simply seen as libérée.’

They make a handsome couple…

Hmmm.Sacha Distel and Bridget Bardot

Hmmmm.

What?

Sorry… erm…

You were saying?

Weren’t we talking about Sacha Distel? What became of him?

Well he went on to score numerous international hits as well as a staring role in the West End stage production of Chicago but is probably most famous for his rendition of Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, his cover of the song from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Shall we talk about The Nose?

Do we have to?

Well you bought it. You didn’t enjoy it?

Erm… well, it will certainly stick in the memory…

How so?

To summarise the plot: a man wakes up without his nose and realises it has been cut off. His nose is at large around town (literally – it has grown to the same size as an adult human) and attains the status of a minor celebrity…

This sounds bonkers!

That’s putting it mildly. At various points in the book the narrator interrupts and during the closing paragraph admits that not even he/she (what do you call the omnipresent narrator in a book – it?) can make sense of what’s going on.

This chap’s first attempt at writing something was it?

Hardly. The Encyclopedia Britannica says ‘his part in Russian literature was enormous.[…] Gogol was among the first authors to have revealed Russia to itself.’ The Nose is a satirical work about… erm… something.

Sounds absurd. Why would anyone pay money for such clap – trap?

Well indeed. The narrator of The Nose ponders exactly the same point. Interestingly, the copy I bought from The Oxfam Shop in Pocklington had the corner of page 17 turned down, as though whoever owned it had got that far through the book and given up. The entire thing is only 35 very short pages long!

Gone for a lie down no doubt.

Perhaps.

And the postcards? 

They were just on the counter by the till so I bought them on a whim.

Shall we finish on a quote from The Nose?

‘Strangely enough, I mistook it for a gentleman at first. Fortunately I had my spectacles with me so I could see it was really a nose.’

I think that says all we need to know about that.

To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is contact me on twitter @TmhoLudek or email: themagichappinessof@gmail.com and I’ll enter you into the prize draw.

If you’ve enjoyed this week’s foray into secondhand land then check out the previous blog posts here:

Charity Shopper #1

Charity Shopper #2

Talking shop #1

Talking shop #2

 

Talking Shop #3

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 13th February 2016, 11.12 a.m. Jim 62, works in a secondhand electricals shop, Jennifer 38, single mother and Paul 59, shop assistant

Paul alerts my attention to a car that has pulled up to the kerb opposite the shop. The driver is wearing a crash helmet! Jennifer gets out of the car and enters the shop, still wearing the crash helmet.

Jennifer: (muffled because she can’t be heard due to the helmet): do you sell sanitary towels?

Paul: Look out, it’s The Stig. Is this a robbery?

Jennifer: what? Oh this? (She wrestles the crash helmet off with some difficulty).

Jim: (to Paul) She could pull my helmet off.

Jennifer: I always wear a crash helmet in the car now since I got shunted up the back end last year.

Jim laughs at this and repeats: shunted up the back end!

Jennifer: Yes. It was at the roundabout near the Humber Bridge. I was waiting and then I set off to go and then I stopped and then… it just all went wrong. A Mercedes drove straight into me! Bang! Whiplash. And I cut my head open on the steering wheel. I was in hospital for a week.

Jim: my wife’s in hospital at the moment with a bad back.

Jennifer: Is she really? Oh the poor woman. Oh it’s a terrible place, honestly, it’s… the food is horrendous. But a bad back. That must be simply awful (makes sad face).

Paul: my ex wife was in hospital once with that – a bad back.

Jim: They call it sciatica. That’s what the doc says it is, sciatica.

Jennifer: Oh god! My Nan had that! She was really in quite a bad way and she got taken into hospital. I went to visit her on the ward but it was a very disturbing experience.

Jim: Oh?

Jennifer: Yes, one of the women on the ward was shouting out constantly. Just shouting and shouting, she was really distressed. And then she took her clothes off and bit one of the nurses!

Jim: A sciatica ward?

Paul: Are you sure that wasn’t a psychiatric ward?

Jennifer: Oh yes. That was it. A sciatictra ward.

Jennifer bought a pack of sanitary towels. Jennifer says: I know a lot of people think I’m slightly eccentric but I’m just me. I’m just a bit different and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was checking my make up the day that guy drove into the back of me so I suppose it was my fault but since the accident I’ve suffered with anxiety. I won’t drive anywhere without my helmet on now. I think it should be made mandatory. I honestly do. You wouldn’t be able to ride a motorbike without a crash helmet. A car’s no different. Apart from you’re inside the vehicle rather than sat on it.

If you liked this week’s you’ll love the last two in the series! You can read them here:

Talking shop #1

Talking shop #2

Talking shop - it's grin up north!

 

I’ve Never Kissed Jacob Rees – Mogg

I’ve never kissed Jacob Rees – Mogg. This is a matter of public record. And as an avowed socialist (well, I like to socialise) and a heterosexual man, there’s no shame in that.

The reason I bring it to your attention is on account of a non – story that broke across media outlets yesterday. You may have seen pictures of this T – Shirt in the paper or on social media:

I hope if you did see it you were sensible enough to turn over the page to search out a proper news story about something that matters like a humanitarian crisis or a war. There are a few to choose from at the moment but if not then you would have been regaled with statistics from a recent YouGov poll.

It has unearthed  fascinating evidence that UK voters are becoming increasingly politically polarised. 28% of Labour supporters said they would be unhappy if their offspring were to marry a Conservative and the number who said they would be ‘very upset’ is up from 4% to 10% since 8 years ago.So that’s less than half. Presumably the rest couldn’t give a toss.

Similarly, 19% of Tories would be moved to despair if their child brought home someone with leftist sympathies and a further 6% would be again, very upset.

This raises several interesting questions for me:

  1. Where do these pollsters find their respondents? If someone turned up on my doorstep with a clip board wondering how I would react in 10 years time or so to the political leanings of my now 8 year old daughter’s imagined lover, I would struggle to find the words to answer. Particularly if it was during the daytime. I mean, if they interrupted Doctors or Homes Under the Hammer  I’d be livid.
  2. How do you define ‘very upset’? If I was very upset I would start to cry and surely the spectacle of a parent crying at your new BF’s mention of the junior doctor’s strike or HS2 would be awkward enough to ruin any potential romantic entanglement?
  3. We are British. No one is ever going to bring up politics at the dinner table. And anyway, the turn out for the last general election was only 66%. Even if you did air your views, a third of the people dining with you couldn’t give two shits whether you admire Jeremy Corbyn or not and the other two thirds would be too embarrassed at your transgression to say anything. Cue the awkward scuffle of cutlery on dinnerware and someone commenting on how good the beef is to disperse the tension.

Enter ‘The Mogg’ into the debate. Rees – Mogg was one of only two actual MPs who seem to have responded to requests for quotes about this ‘issue’.  The other was Labour’s Stephen Pound. I say only two. It could be more but in my ‘research’ for this blog post I’ve read two articles both with exactly the same quotes from the same MPs.

Rees – Mogg is a politician whose back story reads like that of a character from a PG Wodehouse novel. Educated at Eton he went on to Trinity College Oxford and then into finance. Almost immediately upon his entry into the Commons he earned the status of a cult figure.

Rees – Mogg would take a fairly sanguine line where his daughter to bring home a Labour supporter, saying: “My eldest is eight but if they were to grow up and marry a socialist I should be absolutely fine with that. Of course during dinner discussions it is very unlikely they would ever be right, but you might convert them.”

For whatever bizarre reason I cannot tell you but this made me imagine what it would be like if I took Rees – Mogg home to meet my parents. As I’ve already indicated, I’m not gay, but I will admit to having a small ‘man – crush’ on the MP for North East Somerset.There’s something about Jacob’s penchant for three – piece tweed suits and double breasted jackets that I just find ineffably stylish. It’s not that he looks good in them. If anything the way the Mogg’s jackets are cut makes him look a bit like he’s wearing a smock of some sort – it’s just that Jacob doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. He likes what he likes and if that’s a cut that was popular in the 1920s then so be it.

 

I found the picture below on his website.

 

 

Jacob Rees - Mogg and a chicken farmer
Jacob Rees – Mogg and a chicken farmer

 

I will admit to being a little bit jealous of the chicken farmer. So it’s not wholly inconceivable that I might invite him over to ours for a chicken dinner – Jacob Rees-Mogg that is, not the chicken farmer. But how would things go?

For one thing, there would be no ‘during dinner discussions’. Tea would be served on a tray in front of the telly and woe – betide the man who talks over Sarah Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare. Particularly if it’s to elucidate a finer point about European Parliamentary bureaucracy. I imagine Jacob crouching awkwardly on the edge of our shapeless sofa trying to balance a tray slopping over with gravy on his knee.

Secondly, Jacob would never be right. Neither am I ever right. Nor is my sister. My mother is seldom right either. The only person who is right in our house is my Dad. Dad is right about many subjects that he has no knowledge of: the wage structures of major sports clubs, the workings of all automobiles, women, how best to use social media (not at all), gardening, engineering – with a particular interest in large scale civil engineering projects, other cultures, foreign travel and of course politics.

Dad is the kind of man who would sport one of these T -Shirts:

Right wrong t shirt
Yorkshire Right. The rest of the country wrong.
the power of stupid people in large groups
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
Nye bevin quote
Nye Bevan rats quote
liberals_-_taking_part_-_yel_mens_4_1
The Liberals: it’s not the winning. It’s the taking part.
labour I prefer their early work
Labour: I prefer their early work

Tea at ours would be an intensely uncomfortable affair for Jacob Rees – Mogg. Thankfully, for both of us, it will never happen. We move in different circles and I don’t think we share any friends on Facebook. Still, if you’re reading Jacob, the offer’s always there…

 

Charity Shopper #2

Charity shopper is a weekly blog post. The rules are that I have to visit a charity shop every week and purchase something from it. I cannot leave the shop without making a purchase and I must use the purchase at least once. I will report every week on what I buy.

It’s more fun if you play at home: if you would like to be next week’s Charity Shopper all you have to do is contact me on twitter @TmhoLudek or email: themagichappinessof@gmail.com with details of what you’ve purchased and be able to answer some simple questions about why you bought it (otherwise I’ll just do it again!).

Date: Sun 7.02.2016 

Shop: Age UK, 15 Market Place, Pocklington, East Yorkshire YO42 2AS

Purchase: 1 book: How to Be a Brit by George Mikes and a CD: Shall We Dance? Elegant Classics from the 30s.

Cost: £1.98

 

Lets start with the CD; what motivated you to buy a collection of Jazz standards from the 30s?

I thought it had ‘Cheek to Cheek,’ on it – the song Fred Astaire sings to Ginger Rogers in the film Top Hat.

fred and ginger

So romantic!

Indeed.

And does it?

No.

The cheek!

Though I believe the answer to the question, ‘shall we dance,’ should always be ‘yes’ so I bought it anyway.

And the book? How to Be a Brit?

Correct.

Sounds like a pamphlet from a right leaning think tank. Nothing to do with the government’s ‘British Values’ agenda is it?

Hardly. George Mikes was a Hungarian immigrant. It’s his take on British manners. Regarding English attitudes he has this to say: ‘In England it is bad manners to be clever, to assert something confidently. It may be your own personal view that two and two make four, but you must not state it in a self-assured way, because this is a democratic country and others may be of a different opinion.’

A clever dick by the sounds of it.

Umm… possibly, though I didn’t buy it for the witty analysis of the famed British stiff upper lip.

Well why did you buy it?

The cover design caught my eye. I thought it would look good on my bookshelf. Or on the coffee table.

Tsk! Shakespeare and Milton will be spinning in their graves. Don’t you know you should never judge a book by it’s cover?

Not true. How to Be a Brit is published as a Penguin Classic. The minimal, two tone design with large blocks of colour has represented quality since its’ inception in 1935.

Some of the cover designs are as lauded as the books inside them. There are Pinterest boards dedicated to them. You can buy your favourite cover on a T -Shirt, as a Penguin Classics deck chair, tote bags… the list is endless.

What were you saying about quality? Wasn’t Morrisey’s debut novel published last year as a Penguin Classic?

You mean List of the Lost? Ah, it’s not in the Classics imprint. It’s merely a Penguin book. His memoir Autobiography, however, was slotted straight in the Penguin Classics stable.

Have you read List of the Lost?

Umm… I try not to.

Mmm. Didn’t get great reviews did it?

Michael Hann called it ‘an unpolished turd’ in The Guardian.

Yes, he did didn’t he?

And the Telegraph published a list of the 10 most embarrassing lines from the book.

Including: “Preciously kneeling on the upper-crust carpeting, the boys were inexpressive and almost beloved…”

And, ‘Tracey finds the manly central issue too slight to grip…’ Snigger.

Now that’s going too far…

‘Bulbous salutation…’

Enough.

Sorry. Talking of Penguin book covers and The Smiths, have you seen the work of Chris Thornley?

Eh, sorry, what? I was just mopping my brow. I’ve come over all florid…

Chris Thornley has taken a number of Smiths lyrics and turned them into Penguin inspired book covers. They’re really rather good.

Ah. One thing though – if you click on the link above and look carefully you’ll see that Chris, although a very good graphic artist, should be careful what he wishes for!

chris thorley

The charity shopper will be back next week. If you have any particular items you would like to see me discussing (with myself) or if you would like to have a go at being the charity shopper yourself then comment below, Tweet me @TmhoLudek or email: themagichappinessof@gmail.com. 

In the meantime, if you can’t wait until next week, have a browse of last week’s Charity Shopper and the other fabulous content on http://www.themagichappinessof.com