I have some more, recent, “you know when you’re ….. when…..” examples to share with you today. The first was when I awoke to a news article and the presenter was saying “later on we will be speaking to a games industry expert” I honestly wondered what he wants to be when he grows up. As I walked back past the TV I was fully expecting to see a scruffy schoolboy and not the adult who was being interviewed. Having considered that this was a moment of ‘you know when you’re old when’ I consoled myself with the fact that he was obese so at least one of my assumptions was correct.
Checking in at the hotel I walked into some of the management and this gave another example. Having exchanged pleasantries I was told “we have to arrange drinks soon so that you can meet the new GM General Manager)”.That has to be an example of ‘you know when you have been in a hotel too long’. The manager that I spoke to mentionioned that a lot of our team has now moved on and she was eager to ‘replace us’. I wondered off wondering if she really did think that we could just rustle up a few hundred room nights for the benefit of the hotel. Do they think that we are like lemmings, you lose some so you breed some more? I shall have to explain to her that we are a unique and rare breed and simply irreplaceable.
In other observations it is funny how the licensed trade is so insidious in one’s life, but at the same time comforting. I got out of the shower last night to find the tail end of a soap opera playing on the TV. In the soap someone was standing gloomily in a pub cellar and I noticed that behind him, close to the cellar door, were cards of peanuts. The thing that caught my eye was that there were packets missing from both cards indicating that they were in retail use. The bar in this soap is open enough to allow the cards to be displayed and the cellar location is such that having the snacks just inside the door would make no sense. The thing is that I don’t particularly watch soaps and I certainly have no interest in them, but I sat and contemplated this for a few minutes as if it was important.
My conclusion was, of course, that this is simply a trade-off for the purpose of television. In real life the bar is the sales space that attracts a premium and its use is maximised. But in the world of television this would present a cluttered and confusing back drop and detract from the characters. So I guess I must congratulate the continuity experts for ensuring that peanuts were presented for sale somewhere. To all the directors out there, remember we are checking, well I am anyway.
I think that the darker mornings have helped to develop another aspect of my aspirations plans. I have often pondered adapting to a static rural life from the frantic city/country/continent hopping that my life so often involves. I live in a place where many people rarely get as far as the next big town; the Isle has many more of the same. My morning walk through the dark city, the air heavy with diesel from the station, is comfortable and routine. I am at home in the sprawling manufacturing complex that is my office and the myriad interchanges of the metros of so many countries are second nature. The intention is to settle into a small village environment and the licensed trade ensures that I will rarely leave. In time there will be holidays but not the exploratory last-minute visits to unfamiliar countries and strange cities.
Will I miss the world that I currently inhabit, yes I probably will. But I am looking forward to cities being memories and to the quirks of local life. The thing that keeps me going, despite the soul-destroying delays and lack of progression, is the thought that carries me along the dark morning walks. I will consider that I have moved forwards when a visit to ‘serious shops’ ends standing on the gangplank at Portsmouth and boarding the cat to get back home. It may only be the first step but when all of my return tickets end on the Isle and when a trip to a big town involves crossing water then I will know that I am on the right path.
I would like to share a secret with the security team at Westfield. It doesn’t matter if they read this, they don’t trust me and so won’t believe a word I say. The thing is people, I’m not a shop lifter. I know its hard to believe when I meet all of the stereotypes that they taught you in store guard school, but its true. Not only am I not a shoplifter I have never been one, I am neither a reformed nor an ex shop lifter. I would go so far as to say that I have never lifted a shop in my life and furthermore I have no intention of ever doing so.
If you want to protect the revenues of the store that you guard then you should associate me with a voice in your ear saying “he’s behind you”. I am not suggesting that there is always a thief behind you when you are looking at me but, when you’re looking at me, you are certainly looking the wrong way. There is another problem with you presuming that I have criminal intentions in your store. Your attention is directed at a 40-year-old mischievous child. I entered the chemist today and attracted the attention of a store guard. I watched as he went through his mental checklist and ticked ‘baseball cap’ and ‘rucksack’. Of course he stopped here and didn’t go on to conclude that the bag was in fact already full and that I am pretty much an old cripple.
Having hit his headlines I believe that I have two choices I can declare my honest intentions or toy with him. I have heard talk of another way, some say that you can simply go about your business but frankly I think it’s just rumours. Having realised I had his attention I ducked down an aisle whilst adjusting my cap. I didn’t actually move my cap but movement of the hand to the peak symbolises a wish to cover one’s eyes and avoid eye contact which is a classic guilty move. A brief queue allowed me to enquire of the pharmacist and discover that the product that I required was not in stock. This exchange also meant that the store guard had to break off and circle an adjacent aisle. Departing the pharmacist I made a quick inspection of something on a lower shelf before heading for the exit. The lower shelf inspection actually allowed me to duck below the top of the display and thus meant my head was not visible to the store guard for a crucial few seconds.
The store guard knew his patch well and picked up behind me midway to the exit. By this time the store guard is close behind in order to tackle me when the alarm goes off. It is as critical moment because he has a short window between the alarm and my potential ‘escape’. A quick tack left at the very edge of the store gives the impression that I am trying to avoid the RFID loops and adds spice to the exit. Then, like an innocent shopper, I am through the exit, no noise, no alarm and a store guard left to slowly stew in his adrenalin. I don’t even need to turn and view him, my knowledge is confirmed by the two mall guards outside looking deflated at not having a pursuit.
To me this is as entertaining as wearing a suit when people expect a T-shirt or indeed a T-shirt when they expect a suit. It is only a fool who judges by appearances it is an extremely inefficient way of viewing the world.
Occasionally you overhear a conversation that immediately and totally recalls the wonder of childhood. Today, on the train, was one of those days. A young girl sat on the train with mum and nan, surrounded by suitcases. The family were travelling to the coast and set about recounting holidays and memories.
There was some confusion over one trip, could nan remember that trip?, she wasn’t sure. Mum mentioned the hotel, the trip and days out but nan couldn’t place it. During this conversation the little girl was getting more and more excited, she clearly knew how top describe it. Her opportunity arrived and, having taken a deep breath, she embarked on her own description.
There was this arcade nan, on the right hand side of the pier. When you went past the penny slots and the change booth, towards the back. There was some bowling lanes and a big crane machine with pink teddies in. It wasn’t with the other crane machines it was hidden next to the motorbike game,where you could smell the chips remember?
Nan was none the wiser, the little girl was not crestfallen though. Now the little girl was back by the amazing machine that simply plucked teddies out of a pile and delivered them to happy children. Mum commented that the trip was 5 years ago, I estimate that would have made her 4 or 5 years old.
That for me sums up the delight of childhood and the coast in one easy chapter. When your most important memories of a trip are the smell of chips and a machine in the back of the arcade. That, people, is when your priorities are right!