Monday. It was not raining!
Woman 25-35 years old. Enormous. About 6ft 2. Often comes in for general groceries - bread and milk etc. Also comes in for the big silver skins. Stinks of weed.
This woman has the most miserable face I have ever seen. She always looks annoyed at something and looks sad. Her lips are always poised as if they are about to push out an ‘F’. Maybe for a “for a fuck’s sake” or a “fuck off”, definitely not “fantastic” or “fun”. It’s a long, labouring ‘F’; putting all her cheekbones into it, eyes squinted, with her nose up and face scrunched as if she is permanently smelling a fart.
She said once “Oh.. coming up now is it?” About something. What? The end of the day? The end of the hour? The winner of big brother? Christmas? Winter? Death?
“What is?” I said.
“Fuckin halloween.” She exhaled, smellily. Her cheeks sagged, as if the entire weight of the modern world rested on her actual face. She was referring, of course, to our new Halloween stand we have by the tills. At least she is one person who needn’t purchase a mask.
Thursday. It wasn’t raining.
Male 60-70 years old. Wears a blue, tweed blazer with suit trousers, shoes and a shirt. He is old, and like a cartoon old man, he has big eyes and ears. And grey, thin hair with a Bobby Charlton comb-over of no more than 20 long, thin strands across the crown of his head.
I suspect he is an elderly music teacher at a local school. He wears a badge on his blazer pocket with ‘House Captain’ written on and he comes in to photocopy sheets of music and, now famously, to buy other stuff too. I will always remember the first time I met him. The sight of a polite old man photocopying music was a refreshing change from the usual people in the shop; often a lot younger and often a lot less polite. He walked over to the till slowly and asked for the sheets at 5p each. Then he walked over to the alcohol and picked up a colossal bottle of strongbow and plonked that down as well and said, in a voice in which the word “butler” sounded so at-home; “and twenty lambert and butler please”. His voice was oaky and English. He could do audio-books.
I was so shocked to see him order the strongbow and lamberts. Absolute book by it’s cover situation- something i have endeavoured to stop since working there, but it’s still human nature I suppose.
Another regular, a scouse 30-something - often in a tracksuit - always gets the same order. And he was there. The parallels between the two were more striking than the enormous assymetry of their appearances: Both stood at two different tills holding strongbow, as if the dividing lottery stand was some sort of bizarre mirror in a surrealist film. The scouser said “it’s cheaper to get cans you know?” The music teacher looked to me for assurance. “How much are the cans?” He asked. “£2.99”, I said. The bottle was £3 something.
“Ah yes. I think I’ll get the cans then.”
It is always weird to see regulars interacting with regulars. I’m so used to hearing the same sentences from them and playing the same role. I normally feel odd with the realisation that customers have actual lives outside of Spar- seeing them talk always brings that. This, however, was different. It made me realise a wonderful thing. It made me remember how bevvy legends come in all shapes and sizes; regardless of age, class, wealth, health, height, breadth. Bev! Bev is the music sheet we all read off. And doesn’t it play such a beautiful song.
It was raining.
Male 35-45 years old. Wears skinny jeans, band t-shirts, trainers or, if on his way back from work, a suit with his top button undone and tie sagging down. The side of his hair is greying. Broken wrist. I enquired: he fell down the stairs in Revolution.
He always comes in for petrol and 10 Mayfair. Sometimes a magazine or something. He is awkwardly chatty and fixes his eyes on you after he says something. Like when you watch a funny film with somebody that’s already seen it and they look at you after every joke to see if you found it funny as well. He likes to crack bad middle-aged men jokes, and talk about things he’s interested in that he thinks I might think are cool.
Whoa, this guy’s like forty? But he likes old films and has an iPhone. I want to be like him when I’m forty. Well i don’t. Once, after Amy Winehouse died, he got out his iphone and read to me 3 Amy Winehouse jokes. I won’t repeat them, as they’re not funny.
It really is as if I am Michael and he is Alan Partridge. He just talks to me about anything. About his Vauxhall Astra (not very good at overtaking apparently, as if I gave a fart, nevermind a shit, about the relative merits of a Vauxhall Astra). About what song is on Spar FM at the point of serving him. What ever happened to Space? He asks, when Female of the Species is on. I like that song, and perhaps wouldn’t mind knowing what happened to Space.
The worst moment from Alan I ever witnessed was on Wednesday. He says, on his way out: “Someone just asked me if there was a B&Q in York. I said no, but there’s a Y and O, an R and a K”.
And then, completely deliberately, without a hint of irony, self deprecation or jest, purposefully, consciously and heedfully, he raises a clenched fist above his head and brings it down to waist height as if pulling an imaginary lever and says the actual words “yabba dabba doo”! Unbelievable.
It was raining.
Cats and dogs.
Weather for ducks, it was.
Female 45-55, long dark hair and a scottish accent. A soft voice, a bit like Professor McGonagall’s voice, but without the wisdom. Comes in to buy alcohol and cigarettes, often wine, and 40 lambert and butler. She also always brings her own bag. (I like it when people bring their own bag.)
She makes a habit of saying that the alcohol and cigarettes aren’t for her. Who are they for then? Husband? Friend? Child? It’s normally 2 bottles of wine and 2 packets of cigarettes. She has a slightly slanted smile, and commentates on her actions as she does them.
“Just going to get my card out for you my love. Just in there? Do i put it in there? It’s ok, i’ve got my own bag. I’ll just pop these in there. Can i have a receipt they’re not for me, you see. Really coming down out there, isn’t it?”
Not for you, eh? Why do you constantly say that? Coming down out there? Gee, i didn’t notice. Why have you got a crooked smile and why do you commentate nervously during whatever you’re doing?
“Enjoy your wine.” I said. That’ll mess with her.
It was raining.
Male 50-55. Greyed hair and often wears shorts, and a shirt with either one or two buttons too many undone. Just resting on a huge belly. Virtually pregnant. He comes in for 12 cans of Strongbow (always the 12) and various scratchcards. He sometimes remarks if he’s “feelin’ lucky” when getting the scratchcards. Bogglingly, he often is lucky. I reckon there is some element of scratchcard playing where experienced scratchers begin to develop a knack for winning. A couple of months into the job and I am yet to fully work out what the key is. Time will tell on that one.
We have a young girl Helen who now works with us and she served him on one occasion and there was a little exchange with some innocent flirting on both parts. (Purely professional from Helen, i doubt she fancied this man, he was one of the most rotund men I’ve ever seen) It went along the lines of:
“Have you been causing trouble?” (I think the offers on ham weren’t going through on the tills)
“Trouble? Me?” (Followed by a bit of an eyelid bat)
This got me thinking about what our previous bloggee was saying about how he didn’t go the pub any more and just bought Stellas. It’s the need to have a little chat that always boggled me about customers but for the drinkers, I guess its just the same as the brief chat you have to a barman down at the pub. Or the brief flirt with the barmaid down at the pub. Whilst these 50 year old drinkers still need their Strongbow and scratchcards, what they also still need is a cheeky glance at a pair of tits and a small moan about the ball and chain. Even though, in this case, it was just tits (always the tits).
It wasn’t raining.
Male. 45-55. Hair is greying around the edges and thin and fluffy like Fabio Cappello’s hair. Clean shaven with a friendly face. Has an Everton FC tattoo on his left forearm (the underside of the forearm). Comes in for 6 cans of Stella every evening.
One evening, another familiar character came in and was drunk and bought 4 more cans of Strongbow. I shouldn’t have served him drunk but I did anyway because he’s a nice man, although a bit of a bevvie legend, and a possible crackhead. Nice man.
Our Everton tattoo man was behind him in the queue and, after the other guy left, he said to me “I only ever see that guy pissed. You know what I mean.“ His voice sounded like there was a bubble in the back of his throat which every hard consonant had to burst through in order to come out and make a word. It was gruff, like a smoker’s, but not that harsh - I concluded that it was just the 6 cans of Stella a night that had done it.
He added “I drink. But I get up the next day and go to work, you know what I mean.” I was briefly boggled. So he does acknowledge his drinking problem. “I can still get up, have a shower, do me job. I see him down at the Shoulder of Mutton, he’s always either on summat, or fuckin rat-arsed. Don’t go there any more now though, that’s why I just get these in [holds up bag of Stella].”
I just kind of nodded along whilst listening to him. I thought a few things- maybe he was jealous and wished he could just bev away like the other guy all the time. Maybe he really just didn’t like people who didn’t work. Or maybe he’d just had a long day and proper wanted a can of Stella.
“Oh sorry mate, can I have two lucky dips for tonight’s Euros as well.” Shit. If he wins then its gonna be the bender to literally end all benders.
“That’ll be 4 pounds mate.” I said.