It’s foggier than ever today, much foggier than yesterday and yesterday it was foggy as fuck. This is unprecedented as Enrique nearly managed to call it in our emergency briefing this morning. The shop’s full of customers and they’re losing their calm. I’m supposed to be checking the weather instead of doing this. Enrique’s trying to calm them out there but… If the fog lifts by noon then the plane could land, if not then that’s it – no papers for two days on the trot. Chinatown.
It’s been a great week as well. I’ve loved clowning around in the shop. Having said that Paula’s having a bad day. She was cryi-
Hang on, I better get back out there. I just heard something smash. I’ll check the weather first.
Oh Christ, this doesn’t look good.
Forecast for Jersey from 9am until 6pm today Friday 24 May.
Weather : Mist or fog, perhaps thinning or lifting at times. Occasional drizzle.
Max : 11 °C
Visibility : Poor or very poor, locally moderate at times.
Wind : West light F2 to 3.
Open Sea State : Slight with a swell.
Forecast from 6pm until 6am tomorrow Saturday.
Weather : Mist or fog and a risk of drizzle.
Min : 13 °C
Wind : Westerly light F2 to 3.
Perhaps thinning? Well some hope at least, I guess.
It was obvious there was going to be trouble as soon as I got to work. There were a couple of people waiting for the shop to open which is unusual and as I arrived they asked me about the papers and the worst thing was they had hope in their eyes. “Doesn’t look good,” I told them honestly. “Oh for fuck’s sake!” A man screamed but instead of going home they stayed in the car park. It seemed they wanted answers. Answers I didn’t have.
I entered and was met by a grim faced Enrique. “S’gonna be bad, man!” He said. He too could feel the storm brewing. I opened the shop and by this time there were more people waiting. They silently filed into the shop, most of them with their hands deep in their pockets. They milled around near the magazine rack but they had no interest in the magazines, they were interested in the empty shelf at the bottom that should have been full of the daily national newspapers.
Jersey is made up of twelve separate parishes. There’s St Helier which is the capital and has a KFC, St Brelade – that’s where I live as it’s the best bit then there’s St Clements, Giant Crow, St Adolf, St Saviour, Cat’s Cross etc.
Our shop in in St Quen. The parish consists of mainly sand dunes, German bunkers, farms and a windmill and the people who live here are serious.
Paula came in 20 minutes late, her eyes were red. She had been crying or sniffing glue. I left her behind the counter and went into Enrique’s office and found him pacing with his hands behind his back.
“Two day of fuckin’ fog, man! S’unprecedentdented.” He turned and paced back, “we should close the store, man! Jus’ close. Fuck it” He was shaking his head. He was the boss and what ever decision he came to I would back him 100%.
“Close?” I said.
Enrique stopped and leant on his desk, his palms flat and his head hanging. After a pause he looked up, “no, we can’t close.”
“No, of course not.”
“But we gotta get dem out of here, man! Dey stinkin’ up de place.”
“If we had a Slush Pup-“
“No! I want dem out!”
“I’ll do it, boss,” I told him. Enrique looked into my eyes and blew his cheeks out. He didn’t look convinced.
“Try chor best, man,” he said standing straight. “And try an’ get dem to buy some Turkish Deligh’.”
We’ve got loads of bars of Cadbury’s Turkish Delight. Massive bars for 50p but it’s just not moving. Enrique said we could take it ourselves but it’s horrible.
I left the office and pushed my way through the now large crowd to the counter. Paula was really crying so I told her to go and compose herself. Out of the window the fog was thicker than ever – so much for thinning – and I could see only half the car park. I faced the masses. I’m not great at public speaking but I had no choice. “People!” I said too quietly and so then I shouted it. “PEOPLE!” They all turned to me. “The papers aren’t coming,” I said and tried to meet as many eyes as I could. “It’s nobody’s fault. Force majuere,” I held my hands out.
From somewhere in the crowd somebody, a shrill man, the man who had screamed outside screamed, “It’s Richard Hammond’s Motoring News Round-Up today! In The Mirror!”
“I’m sorry,” I said to the part of the crowd from where the voice had arisen. There were angry mutters. A munter at the front explained she was collecting tokens from The Mail for a Peppa Pig book or something.
“And what can I do about that?” I asked her.
“You… you must have a boat!” She stammered and was greeted with sounds of applause and approval. Emboldened she continued, “yes, Spar must have a boat, surely to goodness! Fog doesn’t stop boats!” I could hear people in the crowd babbling excitedly to each other, ‘yes, a boat!’
“Spar doesn’t have a boat,” I said crushing their optimism.
“Well that’s shit!” Said the woman. I nodded and tilted my head as if to say it was shit but it wasn’t really.
“If you all leave the shop now-“
I was interrupted with a cry of, “what if the papers come in when we’ve gone?”
“Look at the sky! Look at how low it is, that’s not going to happen, but if you leave now you can have two of these for fifty pence.” I held up a big bar of Turkish Delight. Then I picked up a second and waved them. “Fifty pence for both of them!” At this a stout man pushed his way through the crowd to the counter. His face was red.
“Can I have four for a pound?”
“Yes,” I replied and then to the crowd, “but when they’re gone they’re gone.”
He produced his wallet, a Velcro sealed affair, and brought out a pound. He nervously handed me the money. I’m sure he thought it was a practical joke.
“He’s getting four!” I said waving a bar to the throng. “But he has to take them straight home.” The man held aloft his four bars as if they were the spoils of war and then left the shop. I watched him go feeling pretty good about myself. I’d gotten rid of a customer and four bars of Turkish Delight. The man disappeared into the fog and I was about to try and sell more chocolate when the air was filled with screams from where I’d lost sight of him. We all stared out into the car park, our ears tensed but there were no more sounds.
Paula though. The reason she was so upset was that she had been filmed by Channel TV while shopping in town earlier in the week. We all get filmed quite a lot over here as there aren’t many people. Anyway, Paula had been filmed and then each evening she had watched Channel Report to see herself as she wasn’t sure when she’d be on or why. She was on last night. She said they were just filming her and her friend walking down King Street so they’d been walking like movie stars, really strutting. She thought she was being filmed for a story on the economy but it turned out it was actually a story on obesity. Poor Paula and her friend. They were in the footage you see about fatness news stories when they just film the torsos and not the faces to avoid embarrassment, which would be fine if you can’t recognise people from their flabby torsos, but you can.