Seeing as we're pretty much in the same boat (I've been sent home with full pay for 12 weeks and it's day 3 and I'm, frankly, losing a bit of patience with the telly) and a few people seem to like my reports (thank you sincerely), I wondered if you'd fancy some of the stories Tel has told me in the past but, for reasons of space/sloth, I've never actually committed to these pages?
I'll do the first one tonight and might make this a bit more regular than the reports. Let me know if you don't like them (they'll be shorter than the reports but they are peculiarly Tel).
George's Last Stand
"I 'ad this bloke, George, 'e woz a regular in the shop when we first opened in '85, late sixties, always wore a shirt, tie and jacket, really smart 'e looked. I used to sell sweets in jars, right palaver it woz, yer needed scales'n'that to weigh 'em and white paper bags to shove the sweets in, used ter be poxy wiv bleedin' school kids all buying eighths" (here I looked a bit shocked and he said, after frowning at my surprise, "nah, not those sort of eightfs yer berk!"). "Anyway, George came in evry day fer 'is Daily Mirror an'is slim panatellas an' e'd 'ave a quart'a of summink, normally winter mixes or them lickrish fings they used ter do, yer know, like submarines? 'Allsorts?' I said. "Nah, bleedin' 'ell, these were long and fin, coloured like".
"Comferts!" he suddenly exclaimed as we trawled the whole pantheon of liquorice-based confection. "Anyway" (looking pleased with himself), "George'n' me used ter chat lark we do now, mainly abart the footy, sometimes 'e'd give me a few racin' tips, sometimes a few dog tips'n'all. Well, we'd been chattin' for abart free munfs when I ask 'im abart 'is life'n stuff. Turns out 'e was a Sergeant Major in the Second World War; 'e'd seen service in Norf Africa an' Malta, 'e woz telling' me abart 'ow 'ot is was in Africa an' 'ow the locals all seemed a bit surly, like, they din't like the English much".
"Well, George was put in charge of supplies an' 'e noticed stuff got 'arf-inched by the locals regular, like. They'd nick 'ole red cross boxes an' tins an' ovver bits an' no-one could stop 'em. So George got a bit cheesed off one day; fink they'd bin left wiv tinned pilchards an' custard to feed the troops or summink like that, summink grim that din't go togevver anyway, so 'e sez to 'imself, cos they din't want the Tommies takin' liberties wiv the locals just in case they got the 'ump an' started 'elpin' the Germans, 'e sez 'next time I ketch one o'them sods nickin', I'll befriend 'em and get 'em to tell me 'ow they do it, fore warned is fore armed an' all that. So one of 'is troops nicks some local abdul 'oo's on the camp wivout permishun an' instead o' given' 'im a clip rand the ear, George asks 'im how 'e manages ter smuggle the stuff out wivout gettin' caught".
"So 'e tells George, an' George sez ter me 'it weren't a bad idea'. Basically, they wore an apron wiv a big pouch cut into it and then jus' shoved stuff in the pouch so it hung over their nuts. Anyone pattin' 'em down ter check 'em wouldn't touch their wedding tackle, an' they noo this so they 'ad an advantage like".
"George sez to me 'Clever innit? I learned a lot from my service in Africa, stuff I kept wiv me later in life'. Anyway, we 'ad a laugh abart it an' 'e kept comin' in fer 'is paper an' is quarters an' that was 'im for a while. Abart a year later, I saw 'im in a local soopermarkit an', cos 'e ain't been in for a while, asked if 'e woz ok. 'E said 'e was sorry but e'd ad a bit'o' trouble wiv his legs an' couldn't walk too far these days so got 'is daughter to drop 'im at the local shop an' 'e did 'is shoppin' an' she bought him 'is paper. I wished 'im well an' all that, and noticed 'e was walkin' very game, like, almost bent double, poor ole boy".
"E died a few munfs after this, at 'ome, 'eart they reckoned. The funny fing was, when they broke into 'is sheltered flat, they found all these random fings like 'air dryers an' loads'o'tins of fruit pie fillin' an' stuff. Fing is, the local soopermarkit 'ad been complainin' in the local rag abart heavy shopliftin' 'appening in their store for a while, but yer know wot the kids'er like rand 'ere? No-one suspected a retired ex-sergeant major wearin' a sorta apron under 'is jacket wiv a big pouch sewn on it.
Funniest fing was 'e'd managed to nick a heavy plaster stachoo o' some fairy sat on a toadstool. No wonder 'e was walkin' all bent over. I bet his fore'ead dragged on the bleedin' floor that day...."