Being a wholly accurate and faithful account** of a day in the life of an humble book vendor in a Garden City word emporium
6.45 The first stage of my double alarm system (unimaginatively, an alarm clock) summons me to semi-consciousness.
6.45.01 The second stage, our ancient cat Sally, whose voice is aging in the opposite direction (it may also have something to do with her being deaf), suggests somewhat forcefully that I have been indulging in a luxurious lie-in for long enough now and asks whether I realise that if I don't administer her First Breakfast soon, there won't be time for her to demand the Second, and it will have to be called Early Lunch instead, which will discommode her thoroughly and probably compel her to ask for an early tea. I knew letting her read about hobbits was a mistake.
6.45.01- 7.40 Feed cat, warm uneaten food for cat while she displays shock and disgust at cruelty of treatment, perform ablutions and related activities accompanied by Radio 4, wear sandwiches, make clothes, realise something has gone awry, leave house.
7.40-8.25 Enjoy pleasant walk to Hitchin station, board 8.06 to London (the 8.06 train, for preference) and attempt to restrain feelings of smug superiority that I am licensed to escape the train at Welwyn Garden City. Disembark, bow in homage to Shredded Wheat factory (see previous post), walk past Starbucks and fail to restrain feelings of smug superiority over those who are indulging therein. Enjoy flat white at The Muffin Break instead, assuming, with possible naivety, that their parent company showers the Chancellor regularly with gold coins. Find it disappointing that I still find it amusing to think that their slogan should be 'Muffin ventured, muffin gained.' Wonder again why it took so long for a 'flat white' to be invented, and what, infact, it is. Decide it was probably discovered in a particle accelerator, hiding behind an anti-gluon.
8.50 Report for duty to The Bookshop, Welwyn Garden City. Perform series of courtesy stretches and helpfulness limbers under direction of manager; sing company song and whoop spontaneously several times before running in slow motion on to the shop floor to the accompaniment of stirring orchestral music.
9.00 - 9.30 Repair major damage to sections caused by previous day's trade (if previous day a Saturday, then this procedure is extended by several hours), deposit small persons, forgotten by parents in children's section, into centralised receptacle in shopping centre.
10.00 Attempt to use middle-aged brain, which had grown accustomed to selling book tokens on paper, to manage the new, electronic variety. Accidentally charge book token card with £40,000,000 and destabilise several small national economies. Manager is forgiving.
10.00 - 12.00 Launch exploration party to locate the 1 copy of an obscure Hungarian melodrama which the computer insists we have in stock and about which a customer has, bizarrely, enquired. Mission fails, but a valuable amount of stock is discovered behind the shelving, along with a few more small people.
13.00 - 14.00 Lunch, which is eaten once muscles holding welcoming smile in place have sufficiently relaxed.
14.00 - 15.00 Check in delivery and telephone customers to announce the happy arrival of their book order or that a publisher has sent yet another message about a book's unavailability which is either contradictory to the previous seven messages or lacks the ring of credibility ('our printer is besieged by stoats').
15.00 - 15.30 Decide to resurrect expedition to find lost Hungarian classic. Expedition fails but considers writing best-selling book based on experience.
15.30 - 16.00 Indulge in childish competitiveness with colleagues over whose display table is resulting in the most sales, and justify own table's poor performance by claiming that all the good books had already been used.
16.00 - 17.00 Retidy shop and place personal favourite fiction titles face out on shelves, often having to rearrange half the section to achieve this.
17.30 Manager discusses day's performance and allocates merit badges accordingly. Glow with pride at being congratulated for not answering 'Kurt Vonnegut' to more than half our customer's requests for recommendations.
Rest of the day Decommute, explain day to wife, feed cat a variable number of times, eat, television, blog, read, sleep, perchance to be leapt on by cat.
**Except for this sentence.