Car tax and walking sticks

Tuesday January 4, 2005

Stickford, Jan 4,'05
a la Chaplin

To Boston on one of those multi-purpose trips, seeking a number of items from a number of places. I have little confidence in my ability to remember all the things I need to get, so I write a list, in the order of the shops and offices I have to visit. Late last night, I sat down with pen and notebook to write out my schedule for today’s errands.

“Why aren’t you doing that on your PDA?” asked Graham, innocence personified.

A strange sequence of guilt pangs ran down my spine, just as he knew it would. “Um. Didn’t think,” I said, feebly.

“Much easier on the PDA.”

“Yeah. I know. I’ll try to remember next time.”

“Make sure you do.”

Early this morning, I still felt guilty so I sat down and re-wrote the list on my Christmas-present PDA, neat as neat and sized in a font I’d be able to read easily without changing spectacles. It helped. It helped enormously. I really shall remember in future.

Actually, most of the visits were for Graham, to pick up stuff for the next decorating project. My own business was confined to the Post Office, to tax the car, and to the stationers, in search of a decent fibre tip pen to replace the one I’ve been wearing down to a stub this past year or so.

If Boston is well served with stationer’s they’re hiding themselves, because I’ve yet to find them. There’s a mini-WHS, which I visit out of respect for the past when they were a real stationer’s, and the art store, where I can guarantee getting a pen to my liking but paying top dollar for it. WHS has a lot of pens. Of all types. Of so many types you’d think my need for a pen of a sensible thickness suitable for arthritic fingers would be easily satisfied. Wrong.

“I shall have to walk back via the art store,” I said as we sat over steaming mugs in Costa Coffee.

“You do that, and I’ll meet you back at the car. I want to try HMV for a sensibly-priced DVD of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

But, as we walked out of the coffee shop, a gaming shop, stuffed with computer games of all kinds, caught his eye.

“I think I’ll pop in here to see if there’s any retro stuff I can run on my computer.”

“I’ll come in, too,” I said. “Just out of curiousity, you understand.”

So we walked into the black-painted cave, lit with over-sparkly halogen spot lights and glittering with plastic cases advertising the gaming experience of the century. And filled with that peculiarly miasmic atmosphere generated by small boys and adolescent teenagers. A concoction of over-worn clothes, smelly feet, unwashed hair and acne ointment, so it seems, along with the emanations of peri-pubescent glands gone crazy in rapidly maturing bodies.

“Ah,” I said. “Perhaps this was not a good idea. The air in here is not really suitable for purposes of adult breathing. I’ll go on to the art store.”

Which is what I did, and then to the car, and to a quiet moment spent ticking off items on my PDA list.

The rest of the trip was DIY stuff, where I was just the driver/assistant and the silly old geezer who wanders up and down the aisles twirling his walking stick a la Chaplin.

“You’ll get yourself arrested if you carry on like that,” said Graham, looking up from his list.

“That’d be fun.”

“No it wouldn’t. Have you seen the security guard?”

I looked over to the customer service desk where a grossly over-weight bruiser of a bloke was propping his mountain of sagging flesh against the counter and glaring at the world about him from under the brightly polished peak of a military-style hat.

“Ah,” I said, swiftly returning my walking stick to a more normal position. “See what you mean.”

“Well, think on.”



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