Some Proper Journalism From Noises From Bedlam
We ask the questions that didn’t need asking.
The village post office is the so-called “lifeblood” of the community, especially as we are in a rural area…dispensing pensions, social security payments, letters and parcels in addition to being a newsagent and store.
I walked into the post office and took my place behind what appeared to be a loosely formed queue of around four elderly men and one middle-aged lady.
As I walked through the door, a weird old fellow in a flat cap and spectacles began to smile and adopted a simple look of recognition upon his face, looking as if he was about to speak to me. Look away. I stared at something random on the notice board in order to avert his gaze…somebody was selling an ironing board in “good condition” for five quid. Very reasonable price I thought – but why were they selling it? Had they suddenly reached a time of life where creased clothes no longer mattered? Were they upgrading? I didn’t realise you could upgrade ironing boards. Maybe they are now selling robotic self-unfolding ironing boards at Tesco. I must research this further when I get out of here.
Don’t look at him. I had seen the standard-issue old nutter’s purple cloth shopping bag on the floor as I walked in. It must be his. Don’t look at the nutter. If you look at him, he’ll try to strike up a conversation – no matter how scary-looking you try to make yourself with your newly shaved bonce. And you will have to reply in order to maintain a semblance of politeness amongst these people from the village. Better just not to look at him.
So I didn’t look at him. At least, not directly. I kept one quarter of one eye upon him. Just in case he looked as if he might try again, so I could quickly turn my back on him, quite by accident.
The chap at the counter finished paying a small fortune for his lottery ticket and fifteen scratch cards and bade the shop assistant farewell. As he turned, I noticed he had only one good eye. I say “noticed” – it was fucking obvious. He had on a giant pair of glasses with one side completely blacked out. I tried to peer down the side of the blacked-out lens to see if his eye socket was completely empty or better still, bulbous and a bit mangy. I like things like that, even if they do sometimes make me feel a tad queasy. I struggled to see however. It proved somewhat difficult whilst still trying to keep one quarter of one eye upon the nutter. I’d wager five pounds or my ironing board that the chap in the “shade” would give his right arm for one quarter of one eye. I then began to ruminate over the possibilities of which parts of the anatomy I would consider trading in for another. Is an eye worth an arm do you think? Would having two dicks be of any real value with only one hand? Depends where the second was mounted, I suppose.
It’s fucking depressing in this post office midweek. I’m not coming in again.
The lady next in the queue had just picked up whatever benefits/pension she was due and quickly spent them on lottery tickets and scratch cards. Fuck me, they’re all at it. Does life become that desperate when you get older that your only means of escape from the pain and boredom is the vague possibility of winning a few quid on the lottery? Hence, you must utilise every scrap of your income in that quest? Say you did win the lottery – what the hell are you going to spend it on? Clearly you lack the imagination to be truly extravagant and what’s more, the shock will probably tip your weak old heart over the precipice anyway. What the hell do you need ten million quid for when your bones are brittle and your joints all but seized?
It was the nutter’s turn in the queue. He just stood there vacantly with his mouth open. The lady behind the counter looked past him at the next old gentleman (who had just been filling in his lottery tickets) and asked him forward. Twenty quid he spent; just on lottery tickets.
Clearly the nutter stands in the post office on a regular basis. I looked at him and realised that that was all he was actually doing – standing in the post office. He wasn’t a total nutter. The lady just before had spoken to him and he replied reasonably coherently. Well; I couldn’t understand a bloody word of it, but she seemed to.
I hate them. Buggered up old people. They depress the hell out of me. I look at that chap in the post office and wonder what he was. What he used to be. For all I know, he might have flown Spitfires in the Battle of Britain, been decorated up to his hat with medals. Now he stands in a village post office waiting to die. He could at least have the decency to stay at home. I only came in for a bottle of milk and now I’m going to spend the rest of the day fretting over my own mortality. Worrying about the fact that I might only have another thirty years or so to cram in everything I want to.
Is that how it ends? Body and mind start to disintegrate…until you are eventually dragged away and issued with a purple cloth shopping bag? That’s when you know you‘re fucked. Might as well stick it on your head and suffocate yourself with it.