Currys

I’m in Currys. A huge electrical store, appositely named because it really gives me the shits.

I hate this place because it doesn’t work like a normal shop. No one can help you here, certainly not the shop assistants. Well, I say shop assistants but really they are just elusive simpletons you have to chase around the shop like it’s a game of fucking pac-man. And when you eventually ‘capture’ one ONLY THEN will they agree to help you. And you want to say “What’s wrong with you? You are not a fucking leprechaun! It’s your job to help me!” But then it ceases to matter that you captured one because it quickly becomes apparent that they know nothing about the products they sell – it’s written all over their faces. In acne.

It’s such a miserable place, the only smile in this hangar of despair belongs to George Foreman, everybody else has a face like a monkey’s arsehole. There is no joy in this kind of retail because the things you buy here are, in the main, begrudging purchases, expensive replacements because the last one broke. The last ones let you down. And you know that eventually the ones you are about to buy will let you down too. And then you’ll be back for more. You are investing in disappointment.

I don’t know where anything is and there is no-one to ask, I walk for miles.

The speaker system is playing “Ring of Fire”, I assume this is meant to be funny because the shop is called Currys. I shuffle between fridges bigger than cars and televisions bigger than dreams, up and down an entire aisle dedicated to George Foreman: a cardboard cut-out shows him wearing boxing gloves whilst operating his electric grill. He is laughing. I have no idea why, I imagine this device would be very difficult to operate wearing boxing gloves, especially for an old man who has spent most of his life getting punched in the face. But what do I know? I’ve never had a George Foreman grill; the concept of such disparate celebrity endorsement confuses me. People who are good at fighting have no business recommending kitchen appliances do they? It makes no sense. You wouldn’t buy a Jackie Chan dishwasher would you? Or a Chuck Norris toaster?

Actually I probably would buy a Chuck Norris toaster, I bet it would toast the shit out of a slice of bread.

I am here to buy a kettle. Another one. I think I am on my fifth kettle? The last one was about thirty pounds and lasted 2 years. I have convinced myself that this is ok. Less than a pound a month for something I use everyday, something which juggles electricity and water with a quiet dignity – I can live with that. I am one of the lucky ones in this shop, I can choose my kettle, take it to the till and leave without having to hunt down a shop assistant. Everybody else needs to ambush one of these ignorant leprechauns and beg them for service.

Everybody else is fucked.

Having chosen a new kettle, I join the queue at the only open checkout. There are 2 people ahead of me but it still takes an age; as I step up to the counter it becomes apparent why.

“Sorry about the wait, how can I help you”
“Well maybe you could open more than one till at the weekend?”
“My colleague is on a break”
“The shop’s only been open 15 minutes? What has he got M.E?”
“How can I help you?”
“I’d like to buy this kettle please”
“Okay. Can I just take your post code? “
“Sorry?”
“THE POST CODE OF YOUR HOUSE”
“But you’re not delivering it? I am taking this kettle away today?”
“We still need your post code”
“I don’t understand why you need my address to buy a kettle”
“It’s probably for security purposes”
“Security?”
“Security”
“It’s a kettle? What am I going to do make cups of tea for Al Quaeda? Boil NATO?”

Eventually I get home with my replacement kettle and immediately put it to work – I really need a cup of tea. I read an article in the paper about these kind of stores declining popularity, about them closing, the paper suggests it’s about stock and space and the ease of buying online.

They don’t mention anything about pacman and leprechauns and invasion of privacy and a lack of good old fashioned service.

My wife shouts in from the kitchen “James, the washing machine is leaking!”

Shit.

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