Till the end of time

John Ward of Moulton Seas End.  Photo supplied.
John Ward of Moulton Seas End. Photo supplied.
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WARD’S WORLD: By madcap inventor John Ward

Listening to somebody the other day, or can I put it another way as I think the process is called eavesdropping but in my case not by choice but being stuck behind somebody in a queue at a store check-out, who was telling a.n.other in front, of her nearly whole family history or rather their buying habits and I must admit some of it sounded rather familiar in some respects as most of it was entertaining and if you are sitting comfortably I will share this with you otherwise now’s the time to look away.

It would appear that this dear megaphone on legs –it’s more than possible she thinks the word ‘discreet’ is some sort of foreign food but its cheaper in so and so’s as a ready meal plus it’s on offer in a ‘Buy one and sling the other one away because you don’t like it after all’ deal – it seems had recently brought a dress in a sale and although it was in ‘a sort of red colour’ but her ‘fave colour’ is yellow, she just HAD to buy it, as you do, and although it don’t really fit all that well as ‘her Roge’ says, its worth giving it wardrobe space until it’s dragged out at some point to see if it will fit, assuming it meets with Roge’s approval or then again, his set of eyeballs.

This trend among woman-folk – or it could be an aliment and if caught in time, there is treatment in the form of having one’s purse or handbag sewn up to prevent payment being handed over – seems quite widespread as the battle cry of “How can I go there? – I have NOTHING to wear?!” although two or three wardrobes are full to bursting point and the doors held on with elastic bungee cords to keep ’em shut.

There is a written warning on all doors to moths as it being a ‘no go’ area to them.

Meanwhile the men-folk twist their heads round to see all their clobber hanging on the back of a chair with an internal information warning being muttered: “Those trousers you spilt ketchup on are still in the wash, for a second time as well, if you’re looking for ’em”.

It’s felt prudent not to mention that the ketchup is blood after the screwdriver slipped while trying to convert the broom cupboard in order to hang their clobber up in, as the desire is to sit on the aforementioned chair without their jumpers and T-shirts sliding on the floor and getting fluff all over ’em - or worse if the dog gets to them first...

By now the end of the queue I am standing in, behind Miss Megaphone and Miss ‘You Don’t Say?’ her personal audience, is getting longer behind me as word has passed along the line – there are five in front of me – that ‘the till is playing up again’ but quite what it’s playing is undefined so we wait patiently, some grinding their teeth and those taking them out to check on their being all present and correct no doubt.

It’s a thankless job being a customer.

You arrive full of hope and expectation or in some cases its called indigestion, looking for that item or items that you really want but are sidetracked by all the wonderful offers that have sprung up inviting you to ‘Buy while stocks last!’ or ‘Not to be repeated’ (look up under ‘indigestion’ as above) or my favourite to date, ‘For a limited time only’ (unspecified so best to get in quick and buy it now although you neither need, want or know what it is as it’s in new brighter packaging) which shares level pegging with ‘Sale must end on Tuesday!’ before the signs are taken down and the ones with ‘Sale now on!’ go back up on Thursday morning.

Help has arrived at the check-out in the form of a supervisor who narrates the situation to all those within a thirty customer range thus: “This happened the other week, for the second time – did you know that, as you don’t normally go on this till do you?”.

Till operator stares into the ceiling with a look of “I should be home as it’s my day off”. This is followed by Soop asking Till if she knows why it’s ‘suddenly’ just done it – again, least we forget as it happened the other week, twice – and Till utters the only answer she can as in: “No, not a clue”

Tension is growing – its in the potted plant section by the main door – among us that are represented by both those training and fully skilled customers about us either being served or allowing somebody to nip off on our behalf and get those packs of plastic wrapped sandwiches and a cup of something hot for us in the waiting section while this extended version of ‘Bottom Gear’ unfolds before our very wallets and purses..

Just then, a breakthrough is announced as Soop has sorted the problem it seems as she announces to us, and those in outlying areas, that all is well and “sorry for the inconvenience” and the lady behind me says she wants one as she “needs to go and quickly what with all this hanging about malarkey”.

As we slowly advance to Check-Out One, Miss Megaphone adds more to her personal social history dossier as she gets her mobile device out, titivates her eyebrows, hair and adjusts the curtain ring in her bottom lip and speaks to the device: “I have just been through a mega, mega and terrible and horrendous time while waiting to be served in XXXXXXX and I hope to have recovered and be over this trauma by the time of my next broadcast”.

Meanwhile all, or perhaps the bulk, of her followers have perhaps lit candles, recharged their batteries in their devices to await fresh developments or just ordered flowers. Years ago, you just carried on or sucked a barley sugar sweetie.

I was with my mum, she of the people for the people, some years ago when a similar event took place. The manager of the store came to sort the till out and all was well but he was silly enough to say to mum on seeing her basic look of displeasure on her face at all the messing about: “I suppose my dear in your day it was just a slide out drawer under the counter and not the electronic devices we have of today!” and mum asked him how old he was and he said a ‘Oh, a youthful fifty seven and many comment on my youthful appearance (?) and mum being mum enquired thus: “Are we talking Centigrade or Fahrenheit here?..”

Progress as I am just behind Miss Megaphone now. As her items are scanned through there is a sigh, so sudden she does not get her tablet device out to reach her followers. “Do you know, I don’ think I need that bit anyway.. Hang on and I’ll go and put it back..”

At times like these, I want my mum.