Friday, 29 September 2017

The MAMAA Returns

Right, so you all know by now that your average high frequency MAMAA (Middle Aged Man Always Around) is under the tragic misapprehension that I delight in their glittering company and, during their regretful absences, yearn for their swift return in order to hear more of their enthralling stories and wondrous escapades, right?

Given this sad state of affairs it logically follows that a long-term absentee MAMAA, returning after many months, is almost bleedin’ unbearable.

MAMAA Yorkshire Casanova, turned up yesterday (calm down, he’s really not worth your hopeful imagination).
No....... Photo: skeeze, Pixabay.

When I very first met him I thought he was alright. I mean, fair enough, it’s weird that a 70+ old geezer is hanging out in a ladies clothes and accessories shop (it wasn’t for the coffee and cake – he never drank or ate anything), but for all that, he seemed reasonably intelligent and fairly interesting.

Sadly, that didn’t last long.

All too soon it became disturbingly clear he viewed himself as part fascinating raconteur, part irresistible stud – when what he actually was, was part bore, part creep.

Yes. Photo: Pexels, Pixabay

He used to visit frequently, (far too frequently, given he lived miles away), and the sight of him proprietorially strolling into the shop meant I could kiss goodbye to the next hour or so of my life. Deep joy.

I would then be taken on a journey of fascinating (he wishes) anecdotes about his life as a (very) minor radio celebrity (Heellooo radio Scunthorpe! -Or something); his importance as a local councillor (he once told me a nail-biting, scintillating tale about street lighting); and his pre-eminence as a distinguished chiropodist (stories of other people’s feet – what’s not to love?).

He would then sidle around the corner of the counter and describe at great length (great, great length) his complicated love life.

Basically, he shagged around so much his wife kicked him out, kind of. Whilst trying to get his wife to forgive him he hooked up with an old girlfriend and wooed her with romantic (urgh) trips to the Italian Lakes and The Cotswolds. Then, in the midst of trying to get his wife to forgive him whilst still very much getting it on with his travel buddy, he met another woman and they’d sneak off to book fairs together (so much more classy than a dirty weekend in Blackpool). Apparently they bonded over a literary appreciation of Tolstoy or Camus or someone (I don’t really know. Neither do I care).

Then, on top of all that he began a fervent pursuit (well, as fervent as you can be in your seventies) of TBE (aka The Boss Erratic).

I know! Astounding!......... TBE! What was he thinking! Clearly all that, er, reading and sightseeing had drawn the blood and the sense right out of his head!

He would bring her gifts, and hang around cooing over her, declaring his undying love, (yuck). She, on the other hand, made it abundantly clear this was unacceptable.

I’m lying. 

She didn’t. She loved it. She said she didn’t,  but she did.

TBE, loving it. Original photo: Tama66, Pixabay

And now he was back. 

I saw him hanging around in the background as I was selling some shit to someone. He was smiling away to himself, clearly anticipating the unbridled joy with which I would greet this return of a favourite prodigal son. Then my customer left and there he stood; resplendent in his beige anorak, with a look that sang, “I’m baaack!! whilst metaphorically waving his jazz hands about.

          Me: “Er...How lovely to see you! How have you been?” 

(Who needs RADA? Just work in retail).


(Honestly? I dunno what he said; some guff about travelling and family and health and..... who cares?)

Anyway, after this glorious reunion there followed the inevitable, awkward, ‘I thought I’d seen the last of you, now I don’t know what to say,’ pause, which, I’m proud to say, I used to very good effect.....

          “Oh, do you know, you’re so lucky! (TBE) is over in the (New Favourite) shop today! If                                you pop over there now you just might catch her!”

And off he popped. Oh yes, my mind is like a steel trap; that’s him dealt with for a fair old while then.

Turns out, a ‘fair old while,’ was just twenty minutes long........

          “Just passing on my way back to the car and I had to come in and say cheerio.”

          ‘Sigh’ alright then: “Cheerio.”

But apparently that wasn’t enough. 

Oh no.

In his Casanova wisdom, he decided to break the ensuing awkward silence (yes, another one), by cocking his head to one side, opening his arms out wide, and burbling;

          “Ah, come here, give me a hug”


          “Come on, come here.”

But I can’t even remember your name! Why would I want to hug you when I can’t even remember your name?!

          “Come on.”

Oh dear god, is there any way out of this?

And then he stepped forward, flung his arms around me, and held on tight. An image of a python and a baby deer popped into my head. 

I started to count to ten. He let go after about five (which, in reluctant-hugee years is about twenty million), said goodbye and walked out of the shop.

I stood there astounded. I am still astounded. I feel like Bishop Brennan after Father Ted kicked him up the arse. 

I still don’t know if it really happened.

Did it really happen?

Maybe it was just a nightmare....

Oh hang on, no; I’ve just found a book token in my pocket. At least, I think it’s for books....

Friday, 22 September 2017

Say what now?

Call me old fashioned, but I am of the mind that a conversation should really make sense to both parties taking part. Isn’t it just plain rudeness for one party to carry on regardless of the obvious slack-jawed confusion playing about the face of their fellow conversationalist?

Here’s a tip: if the person standing in front of you looks massively puzzled and clearly has no idea what you're banging on about, stop bloody talking gibberish. 

Try to actually make sense. 

I know it takes some effort, but for the love of god, take a good look at yourself and reign it in. Don’t witter lazily away, zig-zagging this way and that like some self-absorbed linguistic equivalent of a downhill skier on a freshly snowed-on black run. 

Give us all a break, no one should have to work so hard. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The topiary trees and the customers: a cautionary tale

Why is everything TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) does the retail equivalent of wearing a fur coat and no knickers? It looks good on the surface, (if you like that sort of thing), but underneath it’s all total disorganised carnage.

(OK, probably best to pop a quick note in here: I have no idea what your nether regions look like, and I’m certainly not saying that everyone’s knickerless loveliness is disorganised carnage. I mean, it might be, but that’s your business, not mine. No, this is simply a metaphor for how generally shit TBE is about the stuff behind the gorgeous image. But you get that, don’t you?).

Definitely best kept covered........Photo: Shop Girl Tales.

So, the latest idea is two 5ft high, puffball shaped topiary trees, one either side of the doorway to the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop.

I can’t deny they look gorgeous. I can’t deny they make the tatty outside of the shop look attractive. And I can’t deny the customers really like them.

Unfortunately, so do the wasps.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Another nail in the Coffee Coffin...

The coffee machine has basically had it. I think it’s seen what a clusterfuck the Out Of Favour shop has become and has decided to slowly shut itself down in order to escape.

Picture:kerttu, Pixaby

The latest bit to go on strike is the steam/ milk frother spout.

For those of you happily uninitiated in the ways of barista-ism, there are three, ‘stick your cup under,’ parts on even the most basic commercial coffee machines, (which, of course, is what the Out Of Favour shop has):

1) The circular bit that grabs onto the big spoon thingy full of ground coffee, and filters hot water through it; 2) The hot water spout – like a kettle, only posher; 3) The steam spout – for frothing milk and generally burning your hands.

The steam spout is pretty much essential. Without it there is no frothy milk – and no frothy milk means no cappuccinos and lattes.

Obviously, not having a working frothy spout thing is a fairly massive problem for a coffee shop, and in any normal shop, with a normal boss, it would cause panic and an undignified scrabble to get it fixed as soon as possible.

But I don’t work for a normal boss. I work for The Boss Erratic (TBE), and clearly she doesn’t see this as the problem I do.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Clueless conversations and mysterious MAMAAs

Skills are great, aren’t they? Who doesn’t love a skill? And who can think badly of a workplace that develops and nurtures skills?

Working in the Out Of Favour Shop, for example, has allowed me to develop the, frankly, amazing skill of successfully holding a lengthy conversation with someone without having the first clue what we’re talking about.

"Hi there, I'm fascinating." Original image: Prawny, Pixabay

My spectacular honing of these skills is due, in no small part, to my poshest ever MAMAA (Middle Aged Men Always Around): Mr Mysterious Scholar.

Conversations with him are baffling, not least because I think we’re talking about one thing, and it turns out, we’re talking about something else entirely. Probably.

So he’ll say something like, “Fish can see one’s profile above the surface of the water.” And I think, ‘Great! I get it! We’re talking about fishing! (Well, not so great because we’re talking about fishing, but I can run with it). But then he’ll say, “But of course that was true of the Dutch Masters too,” and it turns out we’re actually talking about oil painting (possibly).

Or he’ll say, “In my opinion burgundy is the most deadening colour,” and I’m like, ‘OK…. we’re talking about fashion….?’ But in the next sentence, he’ll come out with; “Because, you know, she dated Prince Harry….,” and it turns out we’ve been having a conversation about junior royals and their minions all along.

Oh, and he does love a junior royal and their minions. He was beside himself the day he announced he’d spent the morning in the company of (i.e. momentarily brushing sleeves with) Clarissa Beauchamp – Horse-Face at the Snobbery-cum-Nimby village duck trials. At least I think that’s what he said.

And that’s the thing with Mr MS: hard facts are difficult to pin down. He is a master of the half revelation; giving just enough to tantalise but not enough to scrutinize. And he will never expand or clarify.

As a consequence the man is a mystery. And quite possibly a fantasist.

When I first met him I thought he was a vicar, because he was like, ‘I’m doing my work for God’. He even gave me a business card - but it didn’t mention vicars or God, or anything at all much. Maybe that was a clue, because during our next conversation he appeared to suggest he’d been, ‘entertaining’ a Russian ballerina in the west end of London for a couple of months. He did tell me her name and the company she danced for, but I couldn’t quite catch it.

Picture: Carol Davies, Saucy Postcards pinterest

On another occasion I thought he must be doing some post graduate thing on the history of monasteries in northern France (Yep. Imagine me keeping my end up in a conversation like that; oh yeah: massive gold stars to me). He kept rambling on about The Knights Templar and being a guest of boozy French monks, but then he gave me a business card which said he was a cultural advisor on some project in Italy.

Photo: robtowne0, Pixabay

The time after that, he told me he was a professional house sitter in Oxfordshire, but when he gave me his latest business card, it said he was an affiliate of some unheard of Belgian university. (He wasn’t a very good house sitter. Apparently the house burnt down. But that’s another story…).

Ah yes, the business cards. He hands one to me pretty much every time he’s in. And I take it, thinking it will give me some sort of actual evidence as to who he is and what he does.

Fat chance. Even they don’t make sense:

Each one is from a different country. Each one is from some weird sounding institution. Each one has a different job title, and, strangest of all, each one has a different name on the front. So, whilst he's, 'Dr Roger Connerie,' at the University of Central Downtowon Bruges on one, he's Ruggiero Cazzate, of the Heritage Project of Northern Italy on another, and Mr R. Ffantasydd MSc at the University of the South Downs, Bangor on yet another (I may have made some of these up, but I'm only following Mr Mysterious Scholar's lead. Probably).

I used to stick them up on the wall in the Out Of Favour shop kitchen. But then I got bored. Life really is too short.

I did think I’d caught him in a fact one time though. He told me he’d once set up a conservation website to discuss the Big Environmental Issues of the day. ‘At last!’ I thought, ‘something I can actually check.’ I asked him the exact name of the site and secretly wrote it down.

I Googled it later. It didn’t exist.

But then, maybe that wasn’t what he was saying at all.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Shop mannequins: white trash

This shop is where mannequins come to die. Or, more specifically, be killed. They’re beaten up, neglected and sworn at (the last one might just be me).

First there was Wobbly Wendy. She used to lean awkwardly into the corner between the till and the wall because she had no base plate. Any time a customer wanted to look at the clothes she was wearing I had to warn them to stand back in case Wendy suddenly took a lunge at them whilst I was trying to get her kit off and took their eye out. Either that or she’d slide resolutely to the floor and refuse to get up.

Photo: Free-photos, Pixabay

Months later I found Wendy’s base plate base in the kitchen. There was no need for Wendy to be wobbly at all.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Archaeology and Agatha Christie. Or not

Why do I always end up in conversations with customers on subjects I know nothing about?

This week’s gem was all about Amelia Peabody. Now, you may know everything there is to know about Amelia Peabody, but I’ve never heard of her and wouldn’t know her from a tin of peaches. Not that it made any difference to the customer. She wanted to talk about Amelia Peabody, so talk about Amelia Peabody we did:  

Amelia Peabody, apparently (but not that Amelia Peabody). Picture source:

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The cafe that never was.....

Oh my goodness! Have you heard about the fabulous new café in town?!

It’s the Jewel in the Crown of the New Favourite (NF) Shop! It’s the last word in cafes! It’s the holy grail of good food, good beverages and good atmosphere! The décor is amazing! The cakes are to die for! It’s hands down the best place to grab a bite and a cuppa for miles around!

Photo: woodypino, Pixabay

Except it’s not, because it doesn’t exist.

Friday, 23 June 2017

A right royal headache

Original picture: Clker-free-Vector-Images, Pixabay
I think TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has secretly joined the CIA.

She’s joined the CIA and she’s using their unbearably effective tactics on me until I collapse into a broken heap in a dark corner of the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop and promise to tell her whatever she wants to hear……

“Yes (TBE), you are SUCH a brilliant manager! Yes, everyone loves your oh-so-quirky-and-not-annoying-at-all-ways! Yes, it’s such an honour to work for someone as great as you that I would be happy to work for almost nothing!”

Why else would she be torturing me? All day, every day. Constantly. With no respite.

I can’t stand it.

It’s driving me insane. I just can’t take it any longer.

She is torturing me – with whales.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Rage against the wage

Oh TBE how do you shaft me? Let me count the ways.

Well, the Living Wage for one……….

Picture: Bluesnap, Pixabay

Remember, the UK Living Wage came in on 1st May 2016? Designed to stop tight-ass employers financially wiping the floor with their poor little worker slaves? This was proper, legal stuff; something that even TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) couldn’t get away from.

Or so I thought.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Liar liar, pants on fire!

Oh dear. I accidently caught TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) out in a lie, and now she’s got the hump with me.

Well, it wasn’t a lie exactly; more an act of complete incompetence and anti-management (yeah, I know: so what’s new).

Remember when TBE said this about Barista Boy?:

“I’m going to reduce his hours to a level I know he can’t afford. Mwa hahahaha, cackle cackle!!!”  (It’s possible that last bit existed only in my brain). After which, of course, he left.

Original photo: AndreasHolzner, Pixabay


Friday, 5 May 2017

Music music everywhere, and you’ve had too much to drink

Oh dear, the Upstairs Office Geeks aren’t very happy. 

They keep complaining about our music. Apparently it’s too loud, too bass-y……… just too music-y.

Is it wrong of me to find this wickedly funny and deliciously amusing? After all, they knew perfectly well the office was above a shop when they moved in.

But it seems the Upstairs Office Geeks don’t quite live in the same world the rest of us do. They’re sort of halfway there; they look normal (mostly), and they speak normally (well, some of them), but they don’t quite achieve full-on, “Yeah, we get life. We’re good at life.” It’s a bit like a Venn diagram.

A Venn diagram

Sunday, 30 April 2017

You thought I’d forgotten you, didn’t you?

Soooo…. You may have noticed I’ve been very quiet over the last six weeks.

You may have thought to yourself this is because all is going well in the Out Of Favour Shop. That perhaps TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has suddenly morphed into a supportive, attentive, reasonable and entirely sane boss.

That the Out Of Favour shop is being run efficiently and effectively.

That every customer who now enters the hallowed ground of the Out Of Favour shop is pleasant, normal, refreshingly free from tedium and not at all away with the fairies.

Well, to that I would say: snap out of it at once! You’ve clearly had too much chocolate over Easter and it’s affecting your sense of reason. Of course the Out Of Favour shop is still a head-slappingly bewildering hellhole. Of course TBE is still has mad and snappy as a box of monkeys. Where do you think we are, Hobbiton? Hogwarts? Get a grip!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Is time going really slowly, or have you been here forever?

Oh dear God, it’s enough to make anyone lose the will to live: Mr Schadenfreude Socialist has been talking at me for over three hours now.

Three hours!

My brain is numb with boredom. Please somebody make him stop. Sweet Jesus make him stop.

Original photo: cristels, Pixabay

Friday, 10 March 2017

One is the loneliest number.....

Remember the saga of the café without a fridge? Remember the Milk Wars with TBE (aka The Boss Erratic)?

That’s got to be all over and done with by now, right?

I mean, come on; it’s been almost eight months! There just has to be a spanking new fridge sitting proudly in the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop kitchen by now, right? TBE must have stopped the farce of storing milk in a bowl of lukewarm water, right? Surely we’re keeping that all-important café milk refrigerated so it’s icy cold and super fresh, right?

Picture:WikiImages, Pixabay


Saturday, 4 March 2017

The loneliness of the Long Distance Argument

TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) and I are having a non-communicative argument about communication.

It’s non-communicative because we’re writing all our insults, digs, and acerbic points of principle down in a book*. It means we neither have to see each other or speak to each other directly, which is a splendid relief for both of us.

Picture: AgnieszkaMonk, Pixabay

Friday, 24 February 2017

I don’t understand the question. Or the answer

Right, so you know how something small and insignificant can suddenly and unexpectedly turn into something much bigger and messier than you ever thought it would? 

So, an insignificant spot on your face can turn into Mount Vesuvius just before a massive night out, or a single loose thread can turn into a huge hole in your jumper right when you’re in smart company, or a tiny bit of rust on your car can result in you reluctantly having to shell out two months wages for an entirely new wing? Well, the retail version of this is conversations that start off being normal and insignificant but somehow end up in the Twilight Zone. And it happens a lot.

This was a conversation I had the other day with a lady of average size (UK 14ish) who was looking at a loose fitting top………..

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Music to eat your own ears to. And repeat

I am not happy.

I am on edge.

My shoulders are tight, my teeth are clenched, and I’m developing a rather fetching twitch in my right eye.

The reason? Music.

Original picture: Prawny, Pixabay

Friday, 10 February 2017

Barista Dreams. And nightmares.

Meet Barista Boy.

Barista Boy was headhunted by TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) to work in the cafe of the New Favourite Shop.

Trouble is, the New Favourite Shop doesn’t have a cafe, it has a building site, and unfortunately Barista Boy believed TBE’s promises that the cafe would soon be up and running.

It wasn’t.

It still isn’t.