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Dreadful Nonsense

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

We were in Tescos on the Sunday afternoon, having left the house for the first time since our return from Ireland, and were wandering about as in a daze, gazing around at how… well, the only word is pretty, the city seemed to be. I think it was the way that the sun was shining - it was one of those ludicrously bright days that comes at the start of summer when sunshine and lack of clouds seems to cast a shimmer over everything. Leaves had also sprouted on the trees in the week that we were away, giving everything that extra sense of freshness, so that even the litter and vomit on the pavements of Angel seemed somehow new and exciting and full of promise.

We were queuing in Tescos having filled our basket with a lump of completely inappropriate panic bought foods without an eye to making a complete meal with any of them - Marmite, cakes, three different types of vegetarian sausages, that sort of thing - when the man in front of us at the till started causing a ruckus.

It seemed that he was trying to pay with his credit card, and the machine had asked for his pin number, decided that wasn’t good enough, and had produced a docket for the man to sign. The man was going mental, because he decided that obviously Tescos were topping up their profits by skimming off the top of their customer’s credit cards.

The man was absolutely refusing the sign the docket, saying that he had already inputted his pin. He repeated this assertion about four times, while the cashier looked blankly at him, occasionally blinking. Someone somewhere rang a bell.

A tiny woman with the demeanour of a supermarket manager appeared, carrying a pen and stood in front of the man, holding up the pen and asking him to sign the docket. The man looked down at her, and only at this point removed his ipod headphones to hear what the staff were saying to him. He began repeating again about how he had already put his pin in, so there was no need to sign the docket.

The cashier and tiny manager both looked at him blankly, and blinked at exactly the same time while the man continued to rant. She, unmoving, steadfastly held out the pen. The man, sensing defeat, took the pen and dashed off a signature at the bottom of the docket. The cashier finished blinking, took the receipt and processed the shopping. The manager stood stock-still and watched the process, while the angry man gathered up his shopping and tried to cover his losses by declaring that he would be checking his credit card statements.

“If I’m charged twice for this,” he said, gathering up his shopping that came to no more than about £3.50, “I will be writing you a letter.” He flounced off. The cashier and manager blinked simultaneously, once, and then turned to our basket.

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