Trading Standards

You know, hindsight is 50/50 but I actually noticed something was up for sure. I just didn’t say anything. last couple of days strange people have been buying sausage rolls. Normally somebody who buys a sausage roll is a man, aged 18-55 and wearing soiled work clothing, but twice this week a lady wearing a skirt has bought them. No self respecting lady would eat a sausage roll so given those events it wasn’t massive surprise when a middle-aged man wearing make-up to make him look like an old man came in. He was heading to the hot food counter and to Paula but I stopped him with a rumbustious greeting.

“Hello,” I said studying his face which was clearly wrong and fake.

“Erm, hi. Do you sell sausage rolls?” He asked. “Full size sausage rolls?”

“Who wants to know?” I asked returning the question with the ease of a Eastern European tennis player returning the noodle-armed serve of one of our lot.

Then the man pulled off his face and said, “Bill Zeon, Channel TV’s Baddy Busters.”

I’d never watched it, didn’t recognize his real face. His fake face looked more like a face I knew. His fake face was a bit like Johnny Socks’ face. But I was cool, like I said, I had been expecting the exact thing to happen so I was completely relaxed.

“So then, sausage rolls,” said Bill, he was out of breath for some reason. A camera crew momentarily got jammed in then came bustling through the doors.

I nodded at them then I turned back to Bill. This was it, they were filming my life. All my dreams come true. “Yeah, we sell sausage rolls,” I told him. “What of it?”

“Well we’ve had numerous complaints about the size of your sausage rolls.”

“We cut the ends off them and eat the ends,” I told him flatly, standing my ground. Bill Zeon didn’t expect such honesty.

“Isn’t that ripping off your customers?” Bill turned to the camera for a moment.

“Sure is, fuck ’em.” I told him. I turned to the camera and nodded.

“Well I’m sure your customers will be pleased to hear the… the…”

“Contempt?”

“The contempt with which you view them.”

“I don’t think they will be pleased. Why do you think they’ll be pleased?”

“The point is you are ripping them off.”

“Mah,” I said which isn’t even a word, it was just a sound. I looked back to the camera. Bill was really struggling for what to say next. He’d expected me to run away crying.

“Have you got anything you’d like to say to your customers who, by your own admission, you’re ripping off.”

“Erm,” I said. I looked at my hands and extended the thumb and forefinger on each. One of them would make an L shape when viewed from not where I was. “Which one’s an L?” I asked Bill Zeon. He looked at both of my hands before pointing to the right one. I then stuck that one against my forehead and turned to the camera.

“That’s it, is it?”

“I could sing?”

“You could sing?”

“Nah, not really, I’m a horrible singer.”

It was Bill’s turn to talk to the camera. “Well, there we have it, Spar St Ouen, quite happy to be rippin -“

“Can’t you think of a term other than ripping off?” I asked loudly. “You’ve said it, like, four or five times.” Bill sighed at this then looked at the woman who had come in with the camera men. “What do you reckon?” He asked her. She told him to give it a couple more minutes. Bill stood for a few seconds looking at his feet. Then he looked up. “So?” He asked. “How do you…” he trailed off then muttered, “that’s no good.”

“How would I feel if my mother bought undersized sausage rolls?” I said, helping him out.

“Okay,” said Bill. “How would you feel?”

“What?”

“If your mother came in here and was sold undersized sausage rolls?”

“How would I feel?”

“Yes?”

“Like dog shit.”

“So why do it to other people then?” Bill liked that, his voice was strained and the sentence rose at the end.

“I guess I’m just a dick, Bill.”

“Well,” said Bill doing a fake TV laugh, “I can’t argue with that.”

“With what?”

“What you just said.”

“What did I just say?”

“About you being a…” He couldn’t say dick because he was on TV. “An unpleasant character.”

“I didn’t say that.” I told him.

“Well I think we’re done here,” said Bill to the camera. He looked at the lady who shrugged and nodded. Bill looked back at me and said, “thanks,” with some sarcasm and, “I guess we’ll be seeing you on the Baddy’s Corner.” I didn’t know what that was.

“Will you or won’t you?”

“We will.”

“Where you going now,” I asked.

“We’re leaving,” he replied.

“I don’t think so,” I said rushing behind them and blocking the door. “What’s your hurry?” I held my arms out but was careful not to touch any of them as I didn’t want to get charged with assault.

“Can we leave please?” Asked the lady.

“If you can somehow walk through me, then yes.”

The three people holding equipment, the lady and Bill all looked at each other. One of the men holding equipment was quite big, he stepped forward. I screamed like a girl and he froze. They all looked at each other again.

“COWABUNGA!” Shouted Enrique appearing from stage left (right actually. My right.) The shovel he was swinging had already gone through over 180 degrees before Bill even saw Enrique. Whether he had enough time to register what was happening before the shovel struck the back of his head is for the coroner to decide. Enrique leapt back on his toes and spun the shovel like a Chinaman. The other four were huddled together and edging my way, towards the door I was blocking. I lifted my leg and gave the huddle a shove back with my foot.

“Don’t!” Cried the woman at Enrique who was stood poised to strike. Enrique growled, a feral smile on his face. He made a dummy move forward. The woman whimpered.

“Listen…” said one of the men with his palm raised in supplication. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I flicked my eyes to Enrique who read my instructions and in a flash he hit that guy with the shovel and then the shovel was a propeller in Enrique’s dexterous hands. It was spinning so fast it did that thing when it looks like it’s going backwards. Enrique edged towards the last three standing.

“Better watch out!” I told them but they could do nothing. I turned away as the shovel hit. I heard a wet chopping sound and was splattered with the blood and chunks. I didn’t mind, my polo shirt had been dirty when I put it on. Only a small coffee stain. I was going to take it straight back off but then I thought, well, if I’d put it on THEN spilled a small amount of coffee on it I wouldn’t be ashamed and take it off in a massive hurry so I may as well just wear it. But I was conflicted. It was different putting on a slightly stained T-shirt rather than putting a clean one on and then slightly staining it. I didn’t know why it was different, but it was different.

I looked down at the pile of meat, “I told you to watch out,” I said to it and laughed. Enrique laughed and Paula laughed. When we stopped laughing I told Enrique that I would go and set fire to their van which was in the car park. Enrique said he would put the bodies in the field where he’d put the beetles and the Squirrel and Paula said she’d clean up because she was a woman. I forgot to include Marcel. I always do because he’s usually outside.

That’s what I was daydreaming when the woman came in looking for marjoram. It was an angry daydream because my wife had annoyed me when I was eating my breakfast. She’d been talking about a person I didn’t know who was a pilot. It was big news. Some guy I possibly walk past when taking the kids to school is a pilot. I’d been eating my eggs when she told me about the pilot. “Why are you telling me this?” I’d asked. She just thought it was interesting. Yeah right! No she didn’t, she was telling me to make me feel bad about myself. Because I’m not a pilot or a lawyer or somebody who goes away on business trips. It worked.

She was very polite, the woman looking for marjoram. The woman didn’t look thick, in fact quite the opposite, she looked like she could have worked at the Large Hadron Collider. She wasn’t looking for sausage rolls, that much was obvious. She looked scholarly and perhaps worked in a college.

“Do you have marjoram?” She asked.

“Margarine?” I said to the woman.

“Oh no, marjoram, it’s like… erm, oregano.”

“Orangina?”

The woman laughed. “It’s a herb, dried. The little pots.” She showed me what little was with her fingers.

“No, I don’t know what they are, What’s a herb?” I asked, staring at her impassively. I know what oregano is, and herbs, and yes, the little pots, I even know of those. I was simply challenging this woman’s perception and at the time it seemed like the right thing to do but actually writing it out now it doesn’t seem quite so funny. We don’t sell herbs anyway. The woman laughed nervously and looked around the shop.

“The.. the… pots,” she said. She was still demonstrating the size of the pots with her thumb and forefinger while looking around the shop but not really looking. I was pleased she had begun to stutter.

“Pots?” I said. The woman turned to me and smiled.

“Okay thanks,” she said and headed for the exit.

“Thanks, what is that? I don’t even know?” I said and held a finger to my chin and she hesitated momentarily but then continued out of the door and across to her car with her head down. I laughed when she dropped her keys.

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