Saturday, 11 February 2012
As is my wont of a Friday lunchtime, I spent a couple of happy hours in the generous company of my old friend, Elias Sagtrouser, who as both of you know, is a purveyor of materials for building, painting and roofing.
Elias can hold several people in awe with his unlikely stories of commercial mayhem, sales strategy in the drainage industry, and the occasional felonious activity which he has to deal with in his own particular way, often with the administering of the back of his hand and a verbal oath.
So, as he ordered yet two more pints of 'Old Winter Drawers', (ABV 5.8), he tipped his trilby hat further back over his head, and began to regale me with another yarn concerning the goings-on in his builders merchants main shop.
Elias was behind the counter with Meccano, his son. Meccano is very deaf. Well, he can hear extremely well, but his habit of having his Ipod earphones poked in his ears all the time, renders him incapable of understanding anything, while his latest band, 'Bloodgutter', are pounding out some rather disturbing heavy thumps and squawks. In fact, Elias can tell where Meccano is in the shop at any one time without even looking up from his till, as he not only hears the 'Pmph pmph pmph' over a distance of about fifteen yards, but his son also has the irritating habit of drumming with anything bonk shaped, like a hammer, on anything which is hollow, like a 5 gal steel container.
So, Elias was serving a customer, while Meccano's ever-loving squeeze, Toniatellene, was doing her usual trick of bending over her desk, and attracting several pairs of hungry eyes towards her rather voluptious cleavage. In fact, Toniatellene manages to show quite a lot of her 5 ft tall frame at any particular time, either by leaning forward as described, or by bending down towards the back of the shop, to retrieve yet another pile of invoice forms. Again, the various eyes glitter and wander, and Elias has to discuss ways of paying attention to his customer in words which are not printable in a family story like this.
While the customer was collecting the items he'd just bought, Elias noticed a well-known local man enter the trade counter area. 'Nibble', is a veteran handyman, who does the odd job for unsuspecting people, and charges cash, usually lots of it, for a job done with little skill and efficiency. But he gets by, mainly because he also has an unfortunate felonious habit of picking up items and somehow forgetting to pay for them. He also has the original version of irritable bowel syndrome, and has a perpetual smell of broken glass about his general location. The condition is actually down to an addiction to cheap Chinese food, and several cans of value lager, and you can usually tell when he is in the vicinity by virtue of the lack of clean oxygen.
Now it also happened, that Elias's ever-loving wife, Gloriette, was also in the shop that day, doing a little tidying up, filing etc, and also bringing in the staff sandwiches, which she says are better than any they sell down at the garage, and anyway, nobody stops working at midday because there's money to be made.
Gloriette in her youth, used to look as though she might, often did, and occasionally wished that she hadn't, until she met Elias, and over a period of several turbulent, perspiring hours of heaving constructional bliss, she became besotted in the knowledge of expanding drain spigots, brass couplings and nylon bushes. They married soon afterwards. (It is also a well known urban truth, that when Gloriette is in the shop, the yard immediately fills up with Jeeps and there are white vans parked on the double-yellows in most directions, and a roaring trade is experienced by all).
Gloriette nodded Elias in the direction of Nibble, and Elias nodded back. The nodding was also recognised by Toniattelene, whose various bits also began to resonate in anticipation, so with Meccano also gyrating and percussing somewhere down by the spanners, there was quite a lot of movement going on.
Gloriette saw Nibble pick up a small box of cable nails from the shelf, and at the same time, he also trousered a rather natty electronic measuring device which normally retails at £60.00 plus VAT. Elias also noticed the item disappearing into the side pocket of Nibble's dungarees, by virtue of the reflection in a strategically placed chrome-plated lavatory seat, which was fixed above the electrical section.
So Nibble approached the counter with his usual shuffling gait, and waited for his turn. Elias said a hearty "Good morning Nibble" to his customer, and proceeded to ring up the nails on the till.
"So it's three pounds for the nails, and also sixty notes for the electronic rule, then Nibble", he said staring meaningfully at the unfortunate little man.
Nibble immediately began to vibrate with fear, and of course, his self-inflicted medical condition also began to manifest itself in no uncertain terms, and he let rip one of the most excruciating blasts of wind that anyone had ever heard, which whined and squeaked for several seconds.
Elias remained totally impassive and exclaimed, "Plus a tenner for the smoke alarm"...!