Actually, I had quite a nice time last weekend. I wasn't going to. But luckily the damsel on the radio, as she does, concluded her programme with
'Enjoy the rest of your weekend!'
and being so commanded I was obliged to feel perky and happy. I expect all Christchurch obediently did too, shovelling silt out of their drives -
'Why, alright, Radio! I'll have a delightful weekend! Pushing pink glassfibre batts back into place.'
Everyone's infected. Cyclists ask me how I am as we pass each other at a converging speed of forty miles per hour:
'How are y..?'
How am I? I lose the last word in the wind. Kind of him to enquire at speed - I turn and at 200 yards - 300 yards - 400 -
'I'M QUITE WELL THANK YOU FOR ASKING BUT MY RIGHT CALF HAD SOME CRAMP AND MY ACHILLES TENDONS ARE TIGHTENING UP AND I OUGHT TO BE DOING SOME WALKING INSTEAD OF ALL THIS CYCLING'. Has he got his hand cupped backwards round his ear? Fat chance.
It has to have its origins in the world of advertising. The egocentric conceit of some pompous Harvard MBA who imagines he has some great insight to bestow on the marketing world. I bet he tells his salesmen to engage their Customer Base and enhance the paradigmatic shift in the structuring principle of society from production to consumption, or something. They honestly think it works? A perfectly satisfactory visit to the greengrocers until the boy with curly hair hands me my purchases -
For *uck's sake. I hate being said Enjoy to. It's a bag of carrots and a cucumber. Enjoy. It isn't even a sentence. I drive my knee briskly into Curly's gonads and as he collapses writhing with unsought agony, I smile with a mouth full of teeth and muted hatred,
That horrid little wizened man at the filling station did it too, the one who told me I couldn't have 4c-a-litre-off because the coupon was out of date, and so was the next one and the one after that. He looked like he was a bit-part from Lord of the Rings. He was short and skinny and white-haired and wrinkly and I hated him for all of these things, but actually I only hated him because he wanted to know how my Friday had been so far.
'D'you take these coupons?'
'We certainly do. But not that one. It's out of date. You have to use them within a month. No that's out of date too. And that one. How's your Friday been so far?'
'Well it was *ucking great until some ghastly little Hobbit told me all my coupons were invalid.'
And yesterday I was fixing a Brooks Saddle. Never fix Brooks saddles. It requires more patience than an impatient person has got and I haven't even got as much patience as that. I'd bought three B73s when they were about to go extinct, and it was a bad lot. The springs have successively snapped - obv. untempered - , rivets have sprung loose, lock nuts have come adrift scattering shards of saddlebag loop over the Motueka bridge never to be seen again. Yesterday a rear frame fractured at the bolt-hole and the leather needed unriveting and unbolting and all the paint scraping off and a reinforcing bit of steel beating to shape and Mig-welding in place and wire brushing and undercoating and overcoating and re-riveting and finally bolting back onto the springs to be ignored I daresay by my wife on whose bike it is. (Deep breath.) To fix a B73 you need five co-ordinated hands with specially curved pliers and helically curved spanners, and you need an eyeball on an extensible stalk to go to the other side of the saddle while you try to locate the nut using the pliers and apply a spanner to tighten it, while simultaneously holding a multitude of washers, spacers and springs with other hands and other pliers. No human can do this. And it is a task that requires a whole new vocabulary of swearwords. Can you imagine my mood?
In the middle of the job one of the medical students dropped in for some bedding. - Don't ask. - He said
'What sort of a day are you having?'
What? I thought it was only shop assistants. Are they training medical students in unwanted-conversation techniques? Bizarre thought. If you're having a good day you're not going to be needing to see a medical student. - Idiot. - I killed him.
At the greengrocers late this afternoon, Curly spots me. *uck. I'm here for a retail vegetable experience, not an existentialist discussion or a health enquiry. Hah! - attack, the best form of defence. I shall ask him what sort of a day he's had. I'll wrong-foot him. But Curly's a skilled player. Just as I pay he says brightly:
'Any plans for the rest of the evening?'
Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:32:00 AM
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