Considering the Out Of Favour shop sells ladies clothes there are an awful lot of middle aged men who come to visit us. I called them the MAMAAs: Middle Aged Men Always Around. They don’t come to buy clothes, obviously. They come to talk. And, of course, I have no choice but to listen; I am a captive audience. I can’t tell them they’re talking rubbish, or they’re boring, or to shut up and go away. I’m paid to be nice. Tragically, I think they mistake that for genuine interest.
Let me introduce you:
The Mysterious Scholar: At least I think he’s a scholar. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what he does. He talks cryptically about 12th century theology, monasteries on the European continent, religious retreats, poetry and art. There are also hints of a colourful past with a Russian ballerina. He’s truly an enigma.
Mr Schadenfreude Socialist (Mr SS): Mr Schadenfreude Socialist appears to harbour a thinly veiled contempt for almost everyone around him and for society in general. I’m certain his, ‘Knock ‘em down to size,’ attitude stems from a ‘Lord of the Flies style’, schooling. But he is a contradiction; he’s a champion of the underdog, and I’m sure all his aggressive posturing is designed to disguise a well-hidden inferiority complex.
Hep Cat Pensioner: He has a twinkle in his eye and a great line in natty jacket and slacks combos. Not bad for a man in his eighties. He is an incorrigible flirt – much to the chagrin of his long-suffering wife. At Christmas time he brings in mysterious home-brewed liquid and insists I drink it. It’s firey and it makes the shop go wonky.
The Conspiracy Theorist: He says there are aliens walking among us. That’s why he’s prepared. He knows how to protect his brain waves from being stolen and his body from being violated. He’ll tell you all about it if you let him.
Old Festie Guy:His brain is as quick and witty as his body is unresponsive and slow; a stroke has rendered him paralysed on one side, (which clearly makes it more difficult to have a bath). He’ll disappear for ages and then return wearing a grubby surfing shirt and telling tales of dropping tabs in Glastonbury, Shamanic rituals at Green Man festival, and all-night drumming at Womad.
Mr Beardy Gruff: Mr Beardy Gruff isn’t really gruff. He’s more...drily sardonic. He’s comedy gruff. He comes in often, just to see how I am, and brings me jars of garlic pickle. He can have no inner thermostat because he always wears a hugely heavy coat, even in summer. Apparently he has half a dozen of them – all exactly the same.
This is not an exhaustive list. There is also The Yorkshire Cassanova, The Intense Ukrainian, The Shy Thespian, Letchy Divorced Guy............