Dear Lord. It’s been a fascinating day for anthropological studies, I can tell you.
Firstly, we had ‘Crazy Man in the Library’ to study. Said crazy man seemed absolutely fine to begin with. He was a fairly standard portly South Western chap, watching his daughter play on the rocking horse, while his (equally portly) wife selected books. Until he dared to pull out his phone to take a photo of his happily squealing offspring.
It was at this precise moment that the calm, serene atmosphere of the library shifted rather dramatically, as an aged and fustery librarian, complete with the most insanely billowing nest of frizzy hair that I’ve seen in a long time, suddenly wafted up to the man and croaked in a highly sanctimonious tone that ‘no photos were permitted’ in the children’s library. She then shuffled off, complete with a really most repulsive look of poorly concealed delight at having had her little moment of power.
Initially the man seemed to take it well. Or well enough. He muttered something about it being ‘ridiculous’ and walked off, but then peace seemed to reign once more. Until ten minutes later, when he suddenly turned into the aforementioned crazy man, and marched back up to the pompous old dear and started bellowing in her face. The conversation went a little like this.
Crazy Man: ‘I think it’s bloody appalling that I can’t take bloody photos of my own kid.’
Fustery: ‘Well, it’s policy.’
Crazy Man: ‘Are you saying I’m a paedo or something? A paedo? Tha’s my bloody daughter that is, and you made me feel like a paedo.’
Fustery: ‘Well, I’m sorry, but it’s just the policy we have, that photos are…’
Crazy Man: ‘What about that bloody CCTV camera in the corner then? Is that allowed then? Tha’s taking images of my child, but that’s ok is it?’ (I thought he had a point here I must say.)
Fustery: I don’t make up the rules, we just have to make sure that…
Crazy Man: Well, that’s bollocks that is. Utter bollocks. I’m not a paedo. You’ve made me feel like a pervert or something. I’m not a pervert. I’m just taking photos. It’s not right.
At this point the fustery woman started visibly tugging at her frilly collar and glancing at the nearest exit. Not a chance though, as the considerable bulk of the bloke was completely blocking her escape route. I could literally see her sudden bitter regret at having bothered to mention it at all as the man continued to rant and rage, mainly about ‘paedos’, which seemed to be rather a favourite word of his.
While this was going on, DB1 and I were just huddled in the corner, peeping nervously round the side of ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ and trying not to be noticed…
The anthropological study continued outside the library, with the ‘Pushy Sales Lady’. Dear god.
I can only presume that this woman was being offered commission in solid gold ingots or something, given the extreme effort she went to to convince me to sign up to her strange coupon magazine (see, even after ten full minutes of her literally barking in my face about her product I’m still not entirely sure what she was trying to sell me…).
She saw me emerging from the library doors and eyed me in much the same way that a lioness surveys an impala before pouncing. I, in turn, clocked her, and saw the clipboard being raised in my general direction, and hastily tried to turn the buggy in the opposite direction (though what a choice…terrifying sales woman outside, deranged paedo-obsessed maniac inside…talk about rock and a hard place…) but damn the buggy board, which rendered it entirely possible to shift my trajectory path quickly enough.
Anyway, she galloped over, with alarming speed, given the size of her heels, and loomed over me, flapping a magazine in my face and literally reeling off at high speed all the amazing offers I was missing from my life. I found myself thinking that, if her sales career were to let her down, a career in MCing was surely an option, as that woman could seriously do high velocity talking.
So, are you interested? She kept asking. Er, no, I replied. We’re skint. We have no money. I can’t afford to buy a monthly coupon magazine. Yes, but you can have a Haven holiday for £79, she told me, whilst blocking my path with her clipboard. Yes, but I don’t want a Haven holiday. It’s less than a Starbucks coffee each month, she said. Is that where you are going now? Er…no, I replied. Mainly because I can’t actually go anywhere, due to you blocking my path. But also, because I have no money. Hence I am doubly not interested in your coupon magazine.
She then proceeded to stalk me down the street. I eventually managed to out-run her at the Gap store, though as I passed Starbucks, I could see her scrutinising me from over the road, as if to say ‘you dare fucking go in there, and I’m coming for you to claim the money that you said you didn’t have.’ I was a bit scared to be honest, and felt like I had to make a bit of a show of looking yearningly at the people having coffee in the window to really push home the point. Mind you, the effort was wasted, as I then noticed she had snared some other poor bugger and was focusing her energies on looming over them instead.
THEN, if these encounters weren’t enough, I got set upon again, by two American missionaries. As I was puffing and panting up the hill, I sensed a presence behind me. So I glanced round, saw two earnest and determined faces chugging energetically up alongside me, complete with Christian clothing, and just thought, oh for gods sake. Pardon the pun. Not again. Not another pestering. Surely one is enough for the day. But sure enough, the smaller of the two sidled purposefully up next to me, and proceeded to interrogate me on whether I’d let God into my life. I felt like saying, he’s more than welcome for a cuppa if he ever pops over, but at the moment, if he knocks on the door, I won’t be around to offer one, as I’m being held up by SO MANY BLOODY PESTS! Sigh.
But all fascinating stuff.