I bought a very good film on DVD from a charity shop this week as I put the clocks back in the Butchelor Pad to the 1980s.
As I placed it down on the counter, the young shop assistant looked me over and with all seriousness said: ‘Now, I must check that you are over 18,’ before she burst into a snort that made both her nostrils flare excitedly.
‘Ever so slightly,‘ I replied with Bond-like neutrality, while not finding it at all charitable.
But I admire a bit of sass in young people and taking the piss used to be an art form in this country before everyone got too scared of being tasered in the goolies and hauled off to Strasbourg.
When she totted everything up, she told me: ‘That’s £7.67 for you today.’
I thought I’d return fire.
‘What will it be for me tomorrow, £7.68?’
(Time for my nostrils to flare, Shergar!)
She gave not a flinch in reply but silently popped the DVD in the bag and I quietly left the shop.
Apparently, staff at a certain supermarket are ordered to start chats with customers in case it’s the only conversation their shoppers have that day.
I hope this advice reaches Aldi, where my shopping is thrown at me like a snowball fight.
It also reminded me of the Fast Show sketch by Caroline Aherne playing an unfiltered checkout girl who remarks that Parmesan cheese smells like an ‘old tramp’s crotch.’
The finest response I’ve heard to someone being pulled up about their age is the pensioner on the sidelines of a football match who vocally contested an offside.
The young player responsible told him: ‘Get back on your allotment, grandad,’ to which our spectator cut him dead.
‘I’ll plant you in a minute.’
But back to our young snort assistant.
Surely a DVD in a charity shop isn’t prone to market forces like Brent crude oil or gold bullions?
There is no need to emphasise the price today unless it changes daily like stocks and shares.
Anyway, the DVD I bought was White Mischief (1987).
It’s one of those true-life, low-budget, low-interest dramas that I never used to have any time for, and now have all the time in the world for.
It stars the dashing Charles Dance and lingers explicitly on every luscious inch of Greta Scacchi. (My eyes are not as poor as I feared and popped out on stalks).
White Mischief also has a relaxing period soundtrack by George Fenton which I played all week, including Cocktails at the Grave.
Based on actual events, White Mischief is a champagne-swilling, pink gin slinging tale of dinner jacket and pearls debauchery, combining alcohol, altitude and adultery.
It centres on the scandalous aristocratic ‘Happy Valley set’ in 1940s colonial Kenya which culminated in a love triangle and the brutal murder of the 22nd Earl of Erroll, the so-called Playboy of the Aberdares.
It also stars Joss Ackland who is still with us at 94 and whose voice I could listen to for hours. He also narrates a 1993 documentary about the scandal, and in the film steals the show with this withering put down of banking:
‘When the sun is shining they can’t wait to lend you an umbrella, yet as soon as it starts raining they want it back.‘
Sarah Miles also plays the boozy, woozy, mentally fragile Alice de Janze. In real life, the countess shot and killed her boyfriend in Paris and then turned the gun on herself, but survived and was pardoned.
In one scene, she greets another blistering East African sunrise with the weary assessment: ‘Oh god, not another f****g beautiful day.’
I know the feeling. Out of my window I can see blossom budding and a cloudless blue sky over the bins.
As the clocks spring forward, I am thankful Mother’s Day has one less hour in it for those of us who have too many of them to remember our own.
In other news, I’ve been tripping up over my words this week. I’ve said humble bee, aerotrain and eco-worrier.
I also misread Cornish Nationalist Party as the Cornish Nationalist Pasty. They should throw some at Gordon Ramsay.
But we have survived another winter and I have swatted my first flies of 2022.
The newspaper I used was the one which informed me that a red flag for Alzheimer’s disease is daytime napping.
I’m glad that sort of thing never happenzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz