Well, hi there. It’s been a while. (About 205 days, I think, if I’ve been counting right.) Let’s get straight on, shall we. I’ve got another little tale to tell. And this time it’s not very funny . . .
The focus on writing about daily life in a record shop has always been to highlight how people who are a little different from the norm can be amusing and entertaining – that makes them worth writing about, right? There have also been plenty who can touch the sensibilities (if you tittered at that, you have a filthy (and imaginative) mind). It’s work, a job, but it’s also a sociable place to meet interesting people – as well as being pinned to the canvas by plenty of boring people and morons, it’s true. On occasion, a customer can really give you things to think about. It really is a parade of all walks of life. It’s a high street shop and everyone is welcome.
Or are they?
Ponder this little dilemmatic example. There is a perfectly pleasant character, about 30 years old, who for a long while has regularly visited the shop. We’ve always got along well, even if it can get a bit irritating when he prattles on about Dr Who. Whovians tend to. (See, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t even know that’s what they call themselves. Regular readers will recall that Whovians have been the object of my vexation before now.) And I really have absolutely zero interest. In fact, to my mind it is well established that we don’t have common interests – he likes to play video games and watch superhero movies; I’m really not certain that I could care less. I like watching Gardners’ World and being out in the fresh air. I’m sure that he couldn’t care less, about which I couldn’t care less. I learn from Monty and I love nature.
Anyway, he’s inoffensive and likeable. So imagine how shocking it is when a local news headline pops up: LOCAL MAN ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING CHILDREN. Namely, young boys. Beneath, there’s a mug shot of this particular Whovian.
So, what do you do? Shocking as it was, it was not a huge surprise, can’t lie. Furthermore, this is a man who has been accused, not convicted. There has to be civil reasonable doubt. And then I learned that this is the second time that he has been accused of such vile acts (you do not want to know the published details, and I don’t wanna share them). On the first occasion, in a different county, he was convicted. Okay, so moral certainty. Anyway, surely someone who has had their face in the local paper, accused of detestable offences, wouldn’t been seen in public straight afterwards. Surely.
Oh yep, there he is at the counter.
I felt that I had to consider banning him from the shop, and discussed it with a few people whose opinions I trust. But he was not convicted for a second time. Clearly, with moral certainty, he was not reformed by his time in jail. However, the consensus we agreed upon was that he couldn’t be banned by virtue of a news article, without knowing – or saving oneself of knowing – all of the details. The bigger debate really is: Should he have been released from prison the first time? The reality is: He served 20 months. There will be a day when he can no longer go high street shopping for media or for lollipops, of that I am certainly certain. If he wasn’t a predatory sexual pervert, I’m sure that we’d get along fine.
And we did before all this came to light. Yet sometimes you can just tell from the look someone that they are not a nice human being. Before discussing that, probably the most bizarre thing that I have ever witnessed . . .
Another “perfectly pleasant character” visited one day, wearing a suit and bowtie on a hot summer’s afternoon (Whovian?), asking for directions to a local venue.
Oh, what’s going on there today?
“There’s a designer’s convention. I’m late.”
Sounds good. You want to go thataway. Five minutes, max.
“I’m not called Max.”
Well, you do kind of look like you could be.
And he was on his way to the moderately posh local venue. Later that day, in this small market town, there was a proper ruckus. A. Proper. Ruckus.
The central town car park, directly opposite the shop, was suddenly full of people. In a mass brawl. About a dozen of them were dressed in black, scarves covering their faces, fighting a group of twenty to thirty well-dressed men and women, who looked better prepared to dance the lindy hop than street fight. It spilled into the street. The Feds turned up. There were some very naughty words colouring the very middle class skies. And there’s the moderately posh guy who had earlier visited the shop wading right in. Of course he was.
One little fella, dressed as if ready for a prom, was wandering around, hollering in a voice like whatever the love child of John Major and Edwina Currie would have sounded like, “People of S–, there are Nazis in the car park. There are Nazis in the car park. Your town has been taken over by Nazis.” Repeatedly. That’s not a great to thing that anyone would like to hear in any town, so we watched this bewildering scrap escalate and unfold, as you do. It was . . . really weird, surreal, and insanely violent.
It turned out that the lindy hoppers were from a growing far-right “identitarian [sic] movement”; the group in black an anti-fascist group who track down the hipster supremacists and disrupt their conventions and gatherings. And they had chosen a small town in the countryside for what was one of their first meetings. Of course they did.
So, appropos the not nice human being . . .
This is another customer who has been a long-term visitor. He likes his 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ roll music, as well as being fond of old films. That is fine. Of course it is. But he is grim; very grim: Missing a few teeth, through which gaps he sprays alcoholic spittle; not a pleasant aura lingering about him. In fact, even his aura smells dirty. He wears a big jacket on the hottest of days. It smells. He smells. And he always wants to shake hands when he comes in . . . and then again when he leaves. I don’t really want to shake his filthy hands. And really, there is just no affinity. He orders things and then takes months to collect them – even after I started insisting on upfront payment. There are two ends to my list of customers, with my favourites at the top. He’s on it, but he ain’t at the top.
So I took the payment upfront for a DVD that he ordered. It’s called Triumph of the Will. It sounds just like another of the old fashioned films that he likes. Fine. When it arrived, I was suddenly holding a Nazi propaganda film. I say this with reticence, but it probably is quite fascinating . . . from a historical point of view. But it’s not the sort of thing that you forget someone ordering.
One day, he wasn’t wearing his big old smelly jacket. Even though I had my hands in my pockets, he still held out his hand for a good old chummy shake. And then I saw an image like this tattooed on his forearm
Yes indeed. Sometimes impressions of people can be right first time. And the particularly astute among you will notice that not only is this individual detestable, he’s also chosen not to have the image of the Swastica at a 45° angle. Perhaps it is intended as an ancient symbol of spirituality and divinity – its historic origin, before being adopted to symbolise authoritarian evil – and just happens to be depicted inside a helmet of the imperial army, beneath the initials of the Schutzstaffel. I don’t know. But I definitely would much rather not shake his grimy hand.
Because this has been a rather heavier topic than usual, allow me to finish on a joke:
I’ve been performing under pressure at work.
Now I just need to find someone to do the Bowie part.
Ah, well I like it anyway, even if big K doesn’t. And it segues nicely into what will be my final TFaRS blog.
Until then, stay cool . . .