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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

Waiting for the bus home tonight, I popped in to the Centra store for some cigarettes - giving-up-smoking has been postponed until some time in the distant future, when I actually give a damn - and had to step over two shop employees who were scooping up a mess of postcards on the floor. I assumed the metal postcard stand had been blown over by the wind, and gave it no thought, other than to apologise to the people groveling on the ground for the undignified but unavoidable fact that they must be stepped over, because I needed fags as a matter of urgency. The man behind the counter, however, seemed distracted and was grinning from ear to ear as he served me. I walked back towards the door, stepped back over the two still on the ground (muttering things to each other in what I think was Italian), and stood just inside the door to light a cigarette.

Outside, a group of people gathered together against the wind, waiting for the bus. Another man was slight separated from the group, and was furiously stuffing his mouth full of what looked like jelly sweets, and clutching a bag full of something to his chest. He seemed to be annoyed, and was muttering something over and over to himself. Aha, I thought to myself, we've got a nut job. I employed all the lessons I'd learned in London, and studiously ignored the freak, as is the correct response to anything out of the ordinary. The man began pacing back and forth in longer strides and as he went past, I clearly heard that what he was repeating over and over was "I'm not a bad man, I'm not a bad man". Oh, excellent, I thought, we've got a murderous nut job.

So there we all stood, sheltering from the wind, waiting for the bus and studiously ignoring the crazed loon eating penny sweets and clutching - what was he clutching? I had to see now - clutching to his chest three copies of tonight's Evening Herald. Oh yes, I thought, all the better to cut up and glue to his walls, the serial killing mentalist.

And then suddenly he made a lunge at the shop doorway and bumbled - not quite running, not quite walking - down the street, grinning from ear to ear with a new handful of postcards and another copy of the Evening Herald. One of the Italian shop assistants, looking half like he was about to burst in to tears, half like he was about to burst the nut job's head, gave chase, catching him easily and getting the postcards back. The shop assistant walked despondently back down the street, sorting the postcards as he went. The nut job stood laughing triumphantly to himself, as he now had four copies of the Evening Herald, and victory was obviously his.

Then the bus came.


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