Sunday, 12 August 2012

Story of a simple man...

It's fair to say that since the 'News of the World' went south, there has been no better place to search for and eventually find 'all human life', than at the esteemed, uncluttered premises of Elias Sagtrouser. The characters which form the steady line of customers come from so many walks of life, that Gloriette has at her fingertips, the intimate details of more unpleasant charlatans than the House of Commons, more rogues than the list of bankers on over 250 grand, more philanderers than the pages of those tatty sleb mags, more f...(That's enough 'more thans', Scrobs - Ed)!

But she also knows much more about the nicer people in the building business, and again, the intimate details of these people are nestled in her laptop (not her personal one, I mean the one made by Dell, but lets stop this avenue of discussion NOW)! 

In fact of course, the majority of all these customers would also be very keen to experience a bit more than just the fingertips, but Elias maintains a steady gaze on anyone who even considers thinking about the possibility of an encounter, and several leering well-wishers have been requested to look behind them to find one of the large dogs which roams the yard, is within biting distance of the well-wisher's now diminishing and shriveling accoutrements!

Now, all this changes when a certain customer enters the shop. The world stands still. You can even hear Meccano's Ipod blaring out some awful noise by his latest band, 'Crackplunger'.

Bessie Breakspear is an old school contemporary of Gloriette's, and indeed they are still reasonably good friends. What Bessie doesn't have in Gloriette's good figure and looks, she makes up with sheer personal, physical presence, and she can dominate the assembled throng at the bat of an eyelid. More unkind persons mention, that she is Breakspear by name, and Breakspear by nature, but this is not actually as true as weaker mortals have only themselves to blame for getting it wrong...!

Invariably she is accompanied by a man named 'Mossie', who is her labourer, because Bess works as a lorry driver for various firms, and she sometimes needs some muscle to help unload the various heavy items from her truck.

The main problem is that Bessie has always had a crush on, and holds the torch for, and still lusts after, Elias Sagtrouser. Her dominant attitude towards him can be broadcast in just one wink, which signifies that she wishes to gently lower him onto a few of the soft, bouncy rolls of fibreglass insulation, or even a pile of dust-sheets, or even let's face it, stand him up against the paint shelves for a passionate embrace and more besides.

But Elias stands firm, as he and his ever-loving wife made certain vows which they've maintained for over thirty years, and anyway, Gloriette is watching the proceedings like a hawk, or whatever the female word for a hawk is. Elias usually keeps his distance simply by standing at his till, and making sure that the money he collects is counted, and signed for. Most customers have accounts, but he is not averse to counting a wedge of tenners, and fitting these in the drawer in the till, and maybe, if nobody is looking, into his jacket pocket to count later...

Nobody knows why 'Mossie' is called 'Mossie'. Some say that his real name is Amos, some say that it's because he has the last Zapata moustache in Kent, or some say that he's just a thick twonk, but he is totally harmless. He also has a problem with his eyesight, in that his eyes flit very quickly from side to side when he is looking at you.

Now this flitting affliction is usually a nervous condition, but like Simon Templar describing his accomplice Hoppy Uniatz's brain as a loose collection of stray nerve endings which arrive somewhere inside his small head, it is more likely that Mossie is a few screws short of a kitchen cabinet, (or in Ikea's case, 'doink plurgs flit erf un krokleblenkenderbrilsoder'!) So, when he is looking at - say - Toniatteline, he is actually doing the flitting subconsciously, whereas most of the blokes who come in to the shop, are doing it for an entirely different reason, and when Gloriette is standing next to Toniatteline there is a positive blur of lots of eyes just whizzing from side to side in the presence of such enchanting accoutrements!

Anyway, Bessie walks to the till, Mossie is continuously flitting, and Gloriette starts to arch her back, (which is a full-fat, multi-flitting experience in itself).

"Morning Elias, you dirty, great, sexy man you", she starts, and Gloriette arches a little more, although she waves half a welcome to her old chum.

"Bess, it is indeed a pleasure to see you again", says Elias, firmly rooted to his till, and pretending to study an invoice. Mossie wanders over to the electrical goods, and picks up a big yellow electric drill.

"Mossie, put it back", says Bessie, without even looking over her shoulder, as she knows what he's up to by the small, irritating nasal sounds he emits when he's inspecting any new toys.

"Elias, I wonder if you could help he with finding some grommets for the flange on the Long Wheelbase please? The garage people are useless, and I know the ones you keep RIGHT OVER THERE, BY THE INSULATION, are a reasonable match"! says Bessie.  Mossie goes to another shelf, and takes down an electric saw. "Put it back Mossie", repeats Bessie.

"Bessie, I can't leave the till at the moment"' replies Elias. "There's a glitch on the account switch! Meccano knows all about them, so he'll help you"! Gloriette lessens her arch, and most of her acreage returns to amber alert.

"Meccano. Meccano?, MECCANO!", yells Elias, "Take those flippin' plugs out of your ears and show Bess the grommets will you!" Meccano meekly obliges, and to be fair to him, he does a certain amount of flitting at Bess, as she is a well-constructed lady in her own right. He lifts the flap on the counter and walks through to assist Bessie in her search for flange accessories. Of course, Toniatteline is watching all this, and as she always fears that Meccano could possibly get some of Bessie's attention as an after-thought, she arches a bit too, so both girls are at amber alert, and the small queue at the counter is starting to flit more than somewhat.

With one last sorry look of thanks at Elias, and no doubt despairing about yet another passionate opportunity thwarted, Bessie follows Meccano to the back of the shop, and as they vanish behind the nail shelves, the amber light raises to red alert on Toniatteline's arch, and Gloriette's returns to green. There is even a small squeak from out the back, and Toniatteline utters a yelp of dismay, but it is in fact only Mossie picking up and fiddling about with a petrol strimmer.

"Put it back Mossie", calls Bess, just as she reappears with Meccano, who has a box of grommets in his hand, which they sort out on the counter.

Just as they find the bits they want, Mossie appears pushing a huge wheelbarrow, and Bess just sighs heavily, turns round and loses her rag and shouts at him in desperation, "Mossie, take that bloody wheelbarrow back where you found it, you know bugger all about machinery...!"


rvi said...

Marginally off topic from the goings on behind the grommet shelves, or indecypherable IKEA instructions, but talking of long wheel bases, did you know that in the Arab world their equivalent of elevenses is mint tea which they brew up with loving care in (usually) beautifully polished brass teapots? And, if you happen to drop in at a mate's house/tent at the appropriate hour, you will be constrained to imbibe no fewer than three (thankfully smallish) cups of the delicious but very sweet and sticky stuff? So, what is the connection?

Many years ago a mate and I were tavelling somewhere way out in the middle of some misbegotten desert in one of the office's long wheel base Land Rover 110 Defenders. We had had a bit of a rough trip which included several punctures, and helping rescue a young couple who had managed to break a spring on their LR suspension. That's how rough the terrain was (desert is not only the Hollywood sand dunes version!). Had we not happened by, they might have been stranded for days.

Our punctures had been fixed with the usual patches, but we ran out and had to resort to cutting the unroadworthy spare tyre into small size bits to use instead. So, when we finally got to a smidgeon of civilisation, we enquired as to if and where we might purchase a replacement tyre. "No problem" our desert guide assured us. "Lots of garages in this town, so we can pop out and get one".

So, leaving my mate to watch over the vehicle and equipment it carried, guide and I set out hunting. The first garage we came to had a wall full of tyres - but all for sorts of vehicles, but not for short wheel based LRs - which are a completely different size from the LWB and cannot be substituted. "No sweat" said the proprietor, "Ahmed up the road is bound to have some, so meanwhile as it is tea time why not sit down and make yourself comfortable while the missus pours the tea which has just finished brewing".

To cut a long story short, we encountered the same problem at the next 8 garages we tried! Clearly LWB LRs were infrequent visitors to that part of Sandyland. But at the tenth - bingo! - yay, found one made in Russia (or the Soviet Union as it should more properly be called)complete with hammers and sickles emblazoned all round the rims. Once again, we were invited in for tea, but having just drunk 27 cups of mint tea in the preceding half hour, we were able to refuse graciously. Happily the garage guy understood (after he stopped laughing!) and let us go away tea-less. The tyre was of good quality and eventually got us back home safely. Regrettably, the boss, who really should not have been allowed out any further than Surbiton, was not at all pleased to hear that we had had to fit an eastern European tyre on his precious vehicle and demanded to know why we had not fitted a proper English Dunlop.

I do hope Elias only stocks English grommets.

rvi said...

...wall full of tyres - for all sorts of vehicles, but ONLY for short wheel based LRs - which are a completely different size...etc

Sorry, bit of the sticky fingers there.

Anonymous said...

"But Elias stands firm" - I bet he does, the big tease ;-)

Love it x

Said Pip

Anonymous said...

Ah Reevers, the times we could have talking LD tyres! Great story too. I've got a spacesaver as a spare. Hate them. What good is that when you're towing? No good to woman or beast. I had the carpet out of the boot tother day to discover my jack had gone. I've had the car since new so the only persons who've had it without me being there are garages to service/MOT the car. You just can't get the staff!

Said Pip

Scrobs... said...

He's definitely down as a one-girl-guy Pips...

He is allowed to fantasise though!

Scrobs... said...

I lost a favourite Swiss Army Penknife the same way Pips. It had been on every holiday, and was a life-saver when bottles had corks...

As for leaving things of value in cars, Mrs Scroblene insists that we remove anything of value before such a visit, and when I took the Alfa-Bastard-Punto for an MOT last Friday (passed - phew), we had a battle-royal working out how much petrol we needed to syphon out...

Anonymous said...

Pip: Sorry to hear about your loss. Some years ago, somebody broke into the boot of my then car and stole my 25 year collection of spanners - which I have still not fully replaced. Nowadays I always empty the car (including the CDs in the music box) before taking it for a service.

There is a sequel to that tale by the way. Are you sitting comfortably?

A few weeks after our trip and having heard of some of our adventures, the boss decided he and his wife wanted to follow in our tyre tracks. So a day or so prior to their departure, we gave them a thorough briefing on what/what not to do, where to go, what to look out for and where to hire the necessary desert guide. The Defender was loaded up with enough water and provisions to last for about 10 days. As they were inexperienced desert travellers, we asked them to check in daily to ensure all was going well and we had no need to send out search parties.

Around a week or so later, they arrived back late on Friday night beaming with satisfaction and full of stories of the trip.

On the Monday morning, one of the local drivers came to my office to tell me he was having difficulty in disengaging the 4WD lever. I accompanied him outside to have a look and in response to my question, he confirmed that he had shown the boss how the use the 4WD facility should the occasion warrant it. He was right; the lever was locked solid and immovable.

I went in to see the boss and asked him if he had had any trouble with 4WD facility on the trip. Nope, he replied, none at all. It worked perfectly all the way. I asked what he meant by 'all the way' and he replied that before setting off, as he was driving a 4WD vehicle, he had engaged the drive and left it in situ for whole trip! It was about 150 miles from the office to the end of the very good metalled road where the wilderness began, and a further similar distance to where he was heading. So he had driven about 600 miles locked in 4WD - and as a result had welded half the gearbox solid!! Well, I told you earlier that he should not really have been let out any further than Surbiton! We discovered later that that was his first experience driving a LR in such conditions. Had we known that before he left, we could have given him a quick course in what all the knobs and levers were for, how they worked and when they should be used (or not..).

I let him explain personally to the accounts department why the repair bill was so expensive..

"Bess just sighs heavily, turns round and loses her rag and shouts at him in desperation, "Mossie, take that bloody long-wheel base wheelbarrow back where you found it, you know bugger all about machinery...!"

Electro-Kevin said...

Was he out the back with a strimmer... or was it a stripper ?

(Paint stripper, of course)

Anonymous said...

rvi - as I assume tis you, it annoys me when, if a woman makes a mistake it's because she's female and stupid and if a man makes a mistake it's a mistake! Oh I'm not saying you have that attitude and none here but it is prevelent in society. Whenever I broke down in my rubbish jalopy I'd act as in need as a silent film actress and the men who stopped never knew a bloody thing about cars. I always ended up phoning Daaad, I'm wearing a silk dress Dad!! I'm in the AA now.

Scrobs... said...

Elecs, Mossie was just a simple man with simple needs to enjoy looking at shiny new things!

Think Lennie in 'Of mice and men'!

Scrobs... said...

Rather like the thought of the silk dress Anon - you BAAAd girl you...

On the other hand, what are dads for anyway!

rvi said...

Pip: Sorry, I missed that my post above carried the Anon tag, although I am sure I typed my usual nom de plume. But yes, 'twas I.

You must have been very unfortunate if the only males that stopped to help knew nothing about cars.

Very early on in life I made it one of my purposes to find out how cars worked, inside and out. At the age of 17 and having only recently passed my driving test, I got charged by a mechanic what I considered an exorbitant amount for less than 10 seconds' work with a spanner. One evening in a petrol station, having just put a couple of gallons in, my car refused to start. I turned the key - nothing, zilch, absolutely dead. A mechanic from the servicing bay came across and asked what the problem was. After I told him, he said "No problem" and went off to get a spanner. When he came back, he lay on his back and slid a couple of inches under the car and less than 10 seconds later he was out again and said "Try it now" - and it started fine. He charged me ten shillings (an absolute fortune back in those days!) for his trouble. {For the under 40s, that is equivalent to 50p in today's money, but life was rather different back then!]

I had a mate who worked in a garage, and so the next day I asked him just what exactly the mechanic had done. He explained that a sticky starter motor was quite a common problem (back in those days) and all that needed to be done was to give the nut on the end of the motor a half turn. That freed up the mechanism inside the box which would then work properly again.

I had that problem from time to time with that car (my A40 discussed herein a few weeks ago) but never told any passengers I might have had with me (especially the female ones) what I did to get us going again. They all thought I was amazing....

Knowledge clearly is power!

Hospitable Scots Bachelor said...

Still as sharp as ever Scrobs!!!

Scrobs... said...

Mr Hospitable!

What a pleasure to see your name here again!

I will pursue your new career with zeal of course, and hope all remains well, even after your Quasimodo event, which seems remarkably similar to a similar situation with a certain Mr Modo and a Wayfarer De Luxe caravan...

Marvellous stuff!

Anonymous said...

Oh Reevers, an A40! My Gran had one of those and used to tow a caravan. Scary huh? It was a red one. And to anyone who doesn't know the worth of 10 shillings, imagine that a brand new mini cost around £200 and work it out from there - loadsamoney for half a screw!

Knowledge is indeed power :)

Agreed Pip

Scrobs... said...

It was the company car of choice for a guy at my first job Pips!

We had three Minis at the Ashford office, and he kept his A40 because he liked it!

No reason why not...

rvi said...

Pip: Mine was the Devon version and it was light blue - same as Scrobs uses for the names on these posts (at least on my computer!). It was an ideal first car, comfortable, plenty of room for 4, or 5 at a squeeze, easy to drive - even got it up to 90mph (on the clock!) once on the newly opened M1. That was quite scary as the front shock absorbers had gone and it jumped about like a bucking bronco at the slightest bump. I could not afford the 40 quid or so to have them replaced so I just topped them up weekly with the thickest oil I could find. Great fun though for a teenager to possess, but perhaps not as sexy as an 1100 Morris Minor [like what Calfy is driving about in].

Michael said...

There used to be an old Ford Popular in the village where I grew up.

It changed hands several times amongst the village lads for a fiver a time, until the new owner went up-market!

Lasted for years!

I didn't buy it, but a friend had one similar, and it was actually a rather nice little car!