A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


It may be out of fashion these days, but I think discretion is one of the finer of human virtues, and I have to admit that I'm disappointed to be trapped in an income bracket that prevents me from enjoying the benefits of the level of salesmanship available to the higher of economic groups.

I am aware that the gentlemen of the upper-crust who shop in such thoroughfares as Jermyn Street, or amongst the merchants of Mayfair, are afforded the utmost of dignity in their transactions. I understand that the service available there is always polite, ever obliging, yet never intrusive, or dare I say it: over-familiar.

No. Due to my relative penury, I am forced to shop amongst the hoi-polloi.

For example: some time back, in an all night chemists near Manchester University, I once steeled myself to procure some condoms. Yes, dear reader: you read that right ...Condoms. I followed the age-old protocol familiar to all men in this situation, and stepped forward to the counter, pointed to the "items" I wished to procure and while severely blushing at my own embarrassment, curtly proffered a ten pound note towards the lady attendant as remuneration while being still fully aware of where the combs were should I bottle it (chicken out) mid way through the transaction.

Obviously the moment could not pass quickly enough as she took her time noisily shoving my purchase into an unnecessarily rustly bag. Then, as though she purposely wanted to drag the process out a little further, she paused, looked up, and asked in an East End accent broader that the Mile End Road:

"Do you want a receipt with that?" (Or "jew wan' a resee' wiv 'at?")

Naturally, I coughed, and through a dry throat uttered a curt "no!"

She appeared to expect this reply and added:

"Nah, it's not as though you're gonna bring' em back, eh!"

I still shudder at the very recollection.

Back to my main point then...

Before leaving the shores of Blighty for a new life in Oz, I took the opportunity to do some much needed under-pant shopping courtesy of Saint Michael, the Patron Saint of underwear down at that British institute of greatness, Marks & Spencer (and can I add that, apart from the occasional luxury ready meal, underpants & socks are ALL I would ever buy at M&S). Anyway, I made my choice and queued up to pay for my "garments", and finally made it to the till.

The young man behind the counter was initially polite, and appeared quite efficient as he scanned the bar code and stated the price in clear tones. (£7.50 for ten: not bad). But then, and to my utter ASTONISHMENT, he then OPENED THE PACKET AND TOOK A PAIR OUT! Brazenly! With his own hands! I could only look on in dismay as he casually admitted that he was just "checking to see if they're the size on the packet!" 

Like that was anybody's business: my pants. He was handling MY UNDER-PANTS for God's sake! In front of EVERYBODY!! I mean, I ASK YOU.

Therefore, a Statement to those concerned.... 

Look, Mr. "Marks & Spencers" whatever your name is, please leave my pants alone! I'm pleased that you care about actual pant-sizes matching the packaging, but kindly not whilst I am undergoing the indignity that under-pant shopping represents. I mean, what if I'd gone for the old-man's pants this time? (And let's face it, one day that day will come). Do I want everyone in the queue behind me to know? Will you hold them aloft and announce to the assembled throng "Blimey! He's gone for the old man's pants, and they're the wrong size!"

No sir, I don't like this development one little bit. Basically, I just want to pay for the pants and leave. If they're the wrong size, I'll just throw them away, and then visit ANOTHER branch to buy more, and will keep doing so until I finally get the right size. That's the way it is with under-pant shopping.

M&S? S&M more like.

Anyway, I've probably said enough, but I just think that this is some kind of training issue you might like to take up with your staff. I really do.

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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