It’s just another day. I took a morning bath and washed my hair, then off to Brentford not to have a trial for Brentford FC, not to go to the Arts Centre, but to sing a jingle. I got off a stop early, because I had a memory of passing an Army Surplus store close to the station, and I needed to buy a uniform. I’ll tell you why in another blog.
I was pleased to see the shop was still there. From outside it looked quite large however when I entered it resembled something from “The Hoarder Next Door” with boxes amongst heaps of “things” stood stacked to the roof. A young guy dressed in a mis-match of military uniforms was balanced on a stack of boxes so that he could empty other boxes of combat trousers onto a pile of boots. Like a child with a spade at the seaside, the box balancer was mesmerised with his building (the pile measured about 5 foot tall and was rapidly growing). I stood on the only surface I could that would not have involved a climb to a base camp. The box emptier had seen me, but needed to empty just one more box of trousers before he would make eye contact or acknowledge my presence with a “you OK mate, or do you want something?”.
I told him I wanted a high-visibility coat with the blue chequered strips, one that had not had the POLICE reflectors removed. He said, “I think I might have some at the back” and, like Golum in pursuit of a precious thing, he scrambled away over the foothills of footwear.
A few moments later, a huge box came hurtling from behind ‘Mount Boots’ and landed by my feet. “That’s them, mate”, in the flick of a knife he was back. He emptied the jackets from the box by systematically throwing one to the left, one to the right, and one behind. “Nah, we have to take all the police badges off and cut em up, cos it’s illegal to sell old Bill stuff with old Bill badges”.
The box emptied, unfortunately for me, every jacket was badge-less. “Oh well never mind”, I said, “I’ll come back later and have a look at your other stuff “. Golum smiled, reached into the box and then held aloft a selection of different sized reflective POLICE badges, “I found some” he said with a even larger grin, “how much do you want for them” I asked, he threw them to me, “you can have em, mate”.
I had spent more time than I had intended in the shop, so had run to record my jingle. I thanked my kind new friend, telling him I would return in a couple of hours to buy a jacket.
The next 30 minutes were spent singing with an exaggerated East End accent, ensuring that I did not sound like a professional singer but like an East End builder. I then sang like I was the builder’s mates accompanying him. A multi-tracked demo completed, I headed back to buy a jacket.
An elderly chap who was wearing a mix of RAF, Army and Road Sweepers uniforms sat in the shop (taking up 50% of the previously available floor space. My young kind friend was squatting up at base camp one. I said “hi” but to my surprise the young guy did not appear to recognise me. Was it a twin? Did I dream that I had been in the store earlier? I reminded him that I had met him earlier and that I wanted to buy some police gear. “Oh yes, I remember, but I don’t think we haven’t got anything your size”. I said there were a lot of jackets and suggested maybe one would fit. A little louder, my friend repeated his message and then, as if on cue, a large man appeared from somewhere and stood in the doorway shop. He wore the same mis-matched uniform, but with clown sized big boots. “He just told you, we ain’t got nothing to fit you”. He did not look happy. It was like a far more scary version of “this is a local shop for local people”. I was not sure if I would be allowed to leave or if, in a few decades time, my half-eaten body would be found beneath a pile of army boots.
Fortunately, a woman appeared behind the door keeper said, in a very well-spoken voice, “hello, do you sell Russian overcoats with real fur collars?” This distracted the door keeper. I took my opportunity to escape the scene and headed for the railway station, occasionally looking over my shoulder – was I going to be pursued? Would Mrs Real Fur Collars ever leave the shop?