Wednesday, 1 October 2008

How much fun can you have in a bookshop (quite a lot)

Back to 1992, and Charter Place, Watford. After the closing of the long stay 'mental' hospital there were a number of people who met the 'care in the community' category who spent their days cruising the shops.

My absolute favourite was the Pointing Man who usually sat on a bench at a busy road junction, between Cassio and Watford Roads if I remember rightly. His job was to point at all the vehicles coming down the road. Sometimes he had to do this very quickly, because it was quite a busy road. He used to also point at pedestrians, but only if he did not recognise them. I was delighted to be one of the people he did not point at, after about a year of walking past him. I really did feel accepted in the community.

We also had the barking man, who was quite small, and well used to bark, he was often found in the lift in the bookshop. This was quite scary, especially when he growled. Some people said he was not actually barking but muttering swear words under his breath. I'm not sure about that. Of course the barking man inspired one of the boys, not sure if it was Tim or Nick but they were never found out anyway to answer the phone in the bookshop by barking. Sadly, rather than an amused twentysomething calling, it was Head Office who insisted upon an Investigation. Really, they should have just banned drinking at lunchtime.

I have to admit to a fear of the Red Indian Man too, so called as he was amazingly tall, and had a feather or two in his hair. He mostly just walked about, was never heard talking or making other noises but was once spotted trying the underarm roll on deodorants in Boots. Which does remind me of another bookshop employee from Books etc days who scared us silly once by telling us he shaved under one arm to see what it was like. Not quite sure why I was so fearful of him, but it was proper unusual.

I was however, highly impressed by Not Very Bad Boy, actually quite Nice Nick, who later evilly two timed me's best trick; this was to change the words on the computer. Favourite time was when he changed an obscure Thomas the Tank Engine book, to well you guessed it Thomas the Wank... And a lovely middle class lady found it written on her till receipt.

Think there was another Investigation, again stopping staff drinking at lunchtime would surely have worked...

And of course how could I forget the first proper real gay man I met, although have forgot his name now. He was the Deputy Manager, and as such was allowed to wear grown up smart clothes. Unfortunately he was a little rotund and often wore a beige jumper and brown trousers, occasionally mean members of staff said mean things about them. Me, I went to Heaven with him, and had a great time. Was just sad was not allowed unlimited days off work afterwards to recover.

Course then it was alleged that he robbed the shop. They thought it was him because I think there was an Investigation in to discounts, and so on. Plus he had keys, and whoever had done the robbing of the safe took the time to wander the shelves and find a copy of 'Crime and Punishment' to pop in the safe. Probably a fairly literate robber.

Those days...course now most fun in a bookshop we have is looking at the gold fish, or drinking coffee (which is absolutely fantastic improvement since the Olden Days).


Nick said...

This was a class trip down memory lane, thanks Bev. I read it this morning and was consequently late for work and was chuckling as I cycled in. The phone animals was inpsired by the corporate Dillons thing they tried to force on us, in answering the phone in a standardised way "Dillons Watford, how may I help you?" etc. Alex and I and possibly Tim, had been drinking at lunchtime in the Bell (?) and answered the phone in a variety of farm yard animals noises - pigs, cows etc. I remember being pretty scared when they shut the shop early cos the Head Office top bod had called to be greeeted by a Mad Cow mooing at him. I was mainly scared cos I thought Tim was gonna crack under the pressure and grass us up. In many ways it was soul destroying working there but it was also the job I have perversely enjoyed the most. Sort of happy days.

tattyhousehastings said...

Ah, I think it was great, also loved the fact that Sarah - from proper business bookshop confessed to putting mints in the gussets of ladies knickers in Marks and Spencers (she must have worked there I think!)
Tim was a grasser too, he got me in trouble once and made me cry for hours on the bench.
Back to the grown up lift now watching Big Green Baloon on telly and cooking tea.