There’s a bit of glut of books about quirky, oddball women who do un-womanly things, at the minute.
Books about women who go to bed for a year (The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year, by Sue Townsend)… keep on dying (The Woman Who Died A Lot, by Jasper Fforde)… or even keep on dying and — rather annoyingly — keep being re-born (Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson).
And so I’ve decided to write about a quirky oddball, even uncharacteristic piece of behaviour by a man — buying a vacuum cleaner.
I’m not a vacuum cleaner virgin; I’ve bought one before, and I even went along with my normally parsimonious ex-wife’s outrageously irrational and compulsive purchase of an uncontrollable piece of chrome
with a plastic-cased tartan bag attached to it called a Kirby which cost a ludicrous £2000. Yes, you read that right, folks… T-W-O … T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D… P-O-U-N-D-S… for a bloody vacuum cleaner!
The last vacuum cleaner I bought cost fifty quid and sucked. Or rather, it didn’t.
So today, I went to Tommy Tesco and bought a Henry. Quite nice that, having a piece of electrical equipment with a cute face and a name. It cost over a hundred quid but the worst thing about it was the two hours it took to make my selection and pay for the thing in Tesco’s.
Now, unusually for a bloke, I normally don’t mind shopping. Quite enjoy it at times, even.
But the Tesco at Handforth Dean is a soulless place. You want to get out of there like you want to get out of where you’d go to choose your own coffin.
When the world is taken over by the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and only those inside will be safe from the Undead trying to get in, this is the sort of bland warehouse where I imagine my life will end, pondering whether it is better to remain in the store or go outside and end it quickly.
A fat managerial bird wearing an airline pilot’s headset is having an animated row with two colleagues (do you still apply the term colleague to someone who earns the minimum wage?)
She has a massive pair of tits which must be her own — on her salary she couldn’t afford that much silicone. And this observation confounds my theory that if a woman’s tits stick out further than her gut then she’s not really fat… or not ugly fat by that criterion alone.
I catch: “… well if the fucking management can’t sort it out… ” before her antennae (maybe within the headset) clocks that she has an audience and she asks me if I’m okay?
Am I okay?
Could you possibly reference that to, maybe one of the following menu options?
1) Am I psychologically and emotionally okay to the extent that I’m not going to strafe my fellow shoppers with an automatic rifle?
2) Am I okay with the obvious lack of progress of any sort I’ve made in life, and wear this like a badge of failure on my resigned but slightly disappointed looking face?
3) Am I okay with finding the chocolate croissants I realise I’ve forgotten to source the minute I complete unloading my purchases onto the checkout belt, and have just replaced in the trolley?
4) All of the above?
The answer is, of course, 3… but with a hint of 2. And 1 will probably manifest itself on some future visit.
I source chocolate croissants, queue up and pay for Henry and my consumables. I’m asked by a spotty ginger youth if I have a club card: nope… collecting vouchers for schools? Didn’t know that the government had stopped funding education out of our taxes… ?
Back to my car where I find Henry doesn’t fit in my boot and my only option is for him to travel in the passenger seat. This necessitates lowering the roof of my midlife-crisis-mobile on a Siberian March afternoon.
Which makes me look, not only like an advert for Viagra, but a sad, middle-aged, quirky, oddball man, hellbent on doing unmanly things.