The Most Unlucky Man in the World (1)

A drear and overcast Tuesday morning sends its dispiriting grey light through the large windows of a branch of a regionally known chain of Newsagents, rendering the brightest and best arranged window displays somehow cheerless and unalluring. A short queue of people are waiting in line at the till, where the tall angular man with very short reddish hair and a scratch beard of a similar hue behind the counter appears to be in dispute with a couple of strangely dressed customers. “H’dot h’likely! H’dot chadce! Dow leave be h’alode, h’I’b at work.” The couple with whom he is arguing are a skinny pair, with dark tousled hair and vacant expressions, and are dressed in what appear to be builders overalls, one red and one blue. These are accessorised with wellington boots which have been painted white and hi vis cycling straps arranged diagonally across the chest. Each is also clutching a brightly coloured cycling helmet. “Uh huh huh huh. Oh go on Simon, join our team of uh huh huh superheroes.” Says Red overalls. “Uh huh huh yes go on Simon. We fight uh huh huh crime.” Chips in Blue, before they both continue in unison, “Uh huh huh huh, with our tools.” The shop assistant shakes his head in exasperation. “H’do do do! H’and for de last tibe, do! Dere is do way I’d hell dat h’I ab gettig idvolved wid ady of your dodsedse. H’I dod’t do thigs like dat h’adybore! Dow if you’ll h’excuse be dere are custobers h’waitig!” The tall man is telling nothing but the truth. The line of customers has grown in length, and is showing signs of growing impatient. After a bit more to-ing and fro-ing, the two oddballs storm off, muttering”Uh huh huh didn’t want you in our team anyway, uh huh huh, with our tools.”

The tall fellow shakes his head again, then turns to the next customer. “H’sorry about dat h’sir, dow how cad I help you?” The individual addressed is another tall and wiry chap, rather scruffily dresses in jeans and an old rather oil stained plaid jacket. A vaguely conical and equally vaguely hatlike object, to which a couple of tarnished stars still halfheartedly adhere, is perched atop his rather pinched face. “Ho ho good question SB, and yet, in another sense, not a very good question, as the notion of a squalid and inconsequential deviant and water boiling enthusiast such as yourself being of the slightest utility to a peerless manipulator of the mystic forces of the cosmos such as myself is ludicrous, and frankly a trifle insulting. Indeed upon sober reflection I am not sure that I would not be well within my rights to burn you to death.” SB/Simon does his best not to betray the fear which he feels, “H’oh h’indeed h’sir, berely a h’figure h’of h’speech, I beadt to say is dere adythig dat h’I cad get you today?” “Ho ho, I’m not sure about that either, except for inasmuch as you have already got my goat!” “Your h’goat h’sir? H’I’b dot sure dat h’I follow you? Dis is a Dewsagent, dot ad h’agricultural h’ebporiub!” “Are you trying to be funny ball bag? I would advise against it at any time, given that you are I’ll equipped for such a gambit, but especially at this point in time, when as previously mentioned you have already irritated me by your mere presence, let alone your attitude, and furthermore, when my temper, which I will be the first to admit, is not always what it could be in terms of patient tolerance of any form of interruption, opposition, hesitation or repetition, is already tested by the lamentable but unavoidable fact that I am currently in a state which might be referred to as being in want of certain consumables pertinent to the enjoyment gained by the inhaling of the fumes of tobacco in a state of active combustion…”At this point in Morris’s monologue,  the man standing behind him, who has been exhibiting unmistakable signs of impatience for some time, sighs in a theatrical manner. SB attempts frantically to signal to this man to be patient, but fortunately Morris, lost in his own ramblings does not appear to notice. Via subtle pantomime SB attempts to get across to the man that his very life depends upon remaining quiet and waiting patiently for as long as it takes. Unfortunately SB having what is undeniably an irritating face to begin with, his eye rolling, gurning and mugging merely serves to anger the man even more.

But Morris goes on “… anyway, so as I said to Dennis afterwards, you know over a can of that Yellow Lynx, not a bad beer that incidentally, eight for a fiver, and actually imported, can’t go wrong can you? Well I’m confident you could to be fair, probably miss your slackly gawping mouth and pour it down your shirt or fall over a discarded sofa cushion and smash your own face in or something, not that I wouldn’t enjoy watching that of course, in fact have you got a minute? I don’t have a sofa cushion about me person mind, but I’m sure Haberdashery And Soft Furnishings Johnson could oblige…” and on and on until finally, the man can stand it no longer. With an audible”Oh for heaven’s sake!” He steps around Morris, and there is the merest, the very merest suggestion of an elbow getting applied. SB looks horrified, through his head dance visions of incineration, fire alarms, panic, and perhaps worst of all, having to explain things to Mrs Sullivan the supervisor. Ignoring Morris, the man places a magazine and a can of drink on the counter. “Look here, I’ve been standing in this queue for what must be twenty minutes now, and all I want is this Goose Boost and this copy of What HiFi magazine. Now I’ve got a train to catch, and a very important business meeting to get to, and at this rate I shall be lucky to not miss my train…” Morris turns slowly and deliberately to face him, and SB ducks down behind the counter, desperately trying to remember his induction and where the fire extinguishers are located. Morris looks the man up and down. “You’ll be lucky you say? Ho ho, I am afraid that I will have to contradict you there sunshine, in fact, as of now, you are in fact THE UNLUCKIEST MAN IN THE WORLD. Well you are aren’t you? Look! Now sorry to have kept you waiting, please allow me to apologise for any delay you may have experienced, I will gladly pay for your beverage and your publication,  now you’d best get a wriggle on if you want to vainly try and escape your certain and implacable doom, I mean catch your train, here you go then, have a nice day, not of course that you will, rather the opposite in fact…”Somewhat confused, and not really listening, the man mutters something, grabs at his magazine and can of GB and turns to go. As he does so, he tells and clutches his finger. “Ow! Blast it, a paper cut!” In grabbing at the injured digit,  he fumbles and drops his can, which hits the floor and bursts open, showering him in a foamy gout of Goose Boost. He steps back to avoid the spray and stumbles backwards into a display of spiny cacti, which SB doesn’t remember seeing there a moment ago. With a cry of pain he clutches his behind and runs from the shop. Morris turns back to the counter and smiles pleasantly at SB, “Ah, there you are! Half ounce of Amber Leaf and a packet of Red Rizla please.”

“Ho, h’with the gentlenban’s goose boost h’and h’periodical that’ll be £12.97!” “£12.97 for that! You must be joking! Well you are joking aren’t you, laughingly suggesting an outrageous price to a disapproving customer who looks upon your inflated prices with a sense of dismay and arson like intent, thankfully the joke was well taken and you will accept the £2.52 I rather had in mind, well you have done haven’t you look. Cheers moon face, thanks for nowt.” and Morris leaves the shop. Next in line is a familiar tall figure in a smart black cloak, long black hair, smart tight black jeans and t-shirt with a decidedly belaboured look upon his face. At his shoulder is a similarly heighted goofy companion who seems to be wearing an old curtain as a cloak, a fireman Bikle t-shirt and some green tracksuit trousers. The goofy one looks around with childlike wonder at the various things in the shop and seems to have some particular excitement about the fridge area. “Stop sayig dat!” the smarter one exclaims “It’s always de sabe bloody lide!” “Ho what lide is dat Bickle?” “I’b dot beig drawd by dat, look we’re beig served fidally.” He approaches the counter and SB looks across peevishly by greeting “Hello there h’sir. Cad H’I get you h’anythig? Dewspaper h’perhaps?” “Dot likely, I just want sobe cigarettes please Sibon?” “Ho certaidly h’sir, let be just check” and SB looks around at display before turning back to Bickle “Sorry sir, I can’t h’see any cigarettes, h’adythig h’else?” “Dose cigarettes right dere you ditwit!” SB looks around again in feigned confusion “H’what cigarettes? I don’t’ see ady cigarettes? Badybe you bean the h’alleged cigarettes ehh  Bickle?” “Do look here give be dose cigarettes dis frinstant?” “But H’I can’t see h’any sir, you bust be bistaken!” At this point Buckle sides up to the counter “Oh hello dere Sibon, do you  have ady cigarettes? I do Bickle would like sobe” “Ho of course Buckle, h’adythig for a chum! And whilst you’re here, you h’bight want to check out our dairy section!” At which Buckles eyes immediately go back to the fridge “Oh I thought there’d be cheese!” “H’and dere is, frole!” “Ho by god dot agaid! Just give be de cigarettes or I’ll frangle you!” “H’whats that sir? Just wait od a bobent, h’I’ve other custobers to serve!” Curiously the two clowns from earlier are not back at the front of the queue “Uhuhuh yes, we’d like some cigarettes, with our tools!” “Uhuhuh yes me too uhuhuh, with our tools” “Ho there you are sir and you sir!” and he hands more packs over, after this follows Sigmund Freud “Kann Ich zigarreten kaufen bitte?” “Ho h’naturlich h’mein Herr!”, Mr Cutler, the Comte de Gaulois, the duke of Croy, the Comte de Bersierneaux, heavy smoker Johnson, Captain flint, Koth Hotep and an endless parade of other minor characters all pass by in a search for cigarettes until there are truly none left. Bickle, who owing to  various joke constraints has, been standing there watching this spectacle, tries once more in vain “Please Sibon, don’t you have ady cigarettes left adywhere?” “Ho can’t you see sir, we’ve quite h’sold h’out! Try h’again h’another tibe!” Bickle suddenly realises that of course Buckle did manage obtain a pack and that probably he can get those, sadly for him though, whilst this fiasco has been going on Buckle has been doing crafts near the counter and has made a hedgehog by unwrapping a block of cheddar and sticking the cigarettes into it to make the spine, at which Simon quips “Ho it’s a Benson and Hedgehog! Frole!” This does not amuse Bickle, who storms out of the shop, cursing his existence.

To return to Mr Hamilton (for this was the man who bumped into Morris earlier’s name) we must rewind a little. Clutching his backside owing to the unpleasant sensation of the cactus incident he reemerged outside to where he knew his wife would be waiting for him. Mrs Angela Hamilton, an attractive woman in her mid-forties, was outside still and seemed quite not to notice her husband’s return despite the amount of time in which he had been in the shop. For engaging her in some incomprehensible yet seeming fascinating anecdote was one of those bird things one sometimes sees around town. The curious, goose, penguin duck, man combination was wearing some beige to orange lycra dungarees and holding a string bag which contained 3 large bottles of olive oil. All Conrad could here was a noise like “Mwaaerk! Mwaeerk mwaaerk!” yet clearly owing to Angela’s enraptured face it was quite a different story. He looked briefly at his watch then went over. “Darling! We have to go, my meeting, the train, your meeting Silvia in Sheffield today” Looking vaguely flustered she turned to him “Oh Conrad, there you are. You were such a long while and then Mr Johnson here started talking to me. Do you know him?” “No I don’t, Yes nice to meet you” He shook an extended flipper “Mwaeerk!” “Mr Johnson says he works in Sheffield too and he’s on our train, so he’s going to walk with us. Isn’t that nice? Did you get my goose boost?” Conrad Hamilton eyed Johnson suspiciously but had no time for more, he had to get that train “No sorry my dear, no goose boost, just the hifi magazine!” “Honestly Conrad, you can be so selfish, you were in there for ages and you still forgot” Johnson looked sympathetically at Mrs Hamilton and shook his head slightly before mwaaerking that they had better get a move on in they want to catch the train.

As they hurried along the path, Conrad clipped a paving slab and fell forward, only just putting his hands out to stop a worse injury “oww! damn and blast!” he exclaimed, but rather than sympathy, his wife just exchanged a despairing glance with Mr Johnson and he was left to catch them up. Finally they reached the train station, with just moments to spare, Johnson exhorting them to move quicker the whole time and it was with some relief that Hamilton boarded the train as the strange man’s words of ill luck were beginning to play on his mind. It seemed to him though, that missing the train would be such clearly obvious instance of bad luck that the fact he was on it proved the warning nonsense. The train was busy and there were few seats left, Angela had gotten on first, followed by Johnson with Conrad last and as they went down the central aisle Johnson finally found two seats free. He paused and indicated that Angela should sit down, as she squeezed past Johnson –a little too tightly Conrad thought- to get to the seat, he assumed Johnson was giving them both the seat. However, once she was sat next to the window, Johnson took the aisle seat next to her, put his string bag of oils on his lap and then mwaaerked and pointed to a single seat further down the train that was still vacant. Angela seemed to offer no defence for her husband, so in defeated silence he traipsed to the single aisle seat. The window occupant of this seat was a scruffy, slightly dirty smelling man who was eating a banana and wearing a t-shirt with the curious logo ‘unlucky you’ and a pair of old brown jeans. As Conrad sat down the man looked at him and began to talk “Well if hapenny conkers were ten a barrel, the pillars of salt would chime! Woof! Woof!” and he woofed loudly at Conrad Hamilton, who tried to look away and look back down to where his wife was, but all he could see was Johnson’s head turned towards his wife and part of his avian leg and torso. He turned back to his seat to see that now the man was trying to lick at his jeans knees. At his point Conrad knew he had to move. Attempting to gesture to Angela that he was leaving the seat he got up and  looked back down the aisle, only to see that now it was standing room only and the space of standing near Johnson and Angela was now occupied obscuring all view of the couple. Furthermore no sooner had he vacated the seat than it was quickly taken. Remembering he hadn’t taken his briefcase from the departed area he reached back for it only to find that the new occupant of the seat had taken the briefcase and was now rummaging through it…

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 10:44 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Am a little concerned. Only 2 days ago I boarded a train such as the one described and managed to get trapped by the head in the internal sliding door, much to the amusement of the passengers facing in my direction. Conrad has competition. I love your blog btw.

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