I am running out of books. This is not a good thing. So one of my missions while back home was to procure a stack of second-hand books to take back with me. I didn't actually consider how this would work weight-wise on the plane, but more of that later.
Brother the Younger and I decided to go to a Town In Middle Ireland to a second-hand bookstore. It started off well enough; it was lashing rain outside and the comfort of shelves full of dusty tomes was appealing. We slipped in through a side door in an alley and up a winding staircase. It was a small shop, and the only other person on the premises was The Shopkeeper. We said hello and started browsing.
Fu**etywacketywaahwaahc**tc**traaaar! Thump. Thump thump thump. Woooooh!
I looked at my brother. But no, it was not he emitting the obscenities. Which left only The Shopkeeper. My brother and I carefully slid our eyes in his direction, being careful not to get caught. He seemed normal enough. Apart from the fact that he was wearing a giant anorak indoors, complete with hood drawn over his face. We carried on browsing.
Muckerfu**erbollixcraprooooar! Thumpety thumpety BANG. MumblemumblegrumbleF**K!! In unison my brother and I shuffled towards the back of the shop, nearer to the door. I was doing my best to smother a laugh, and I could see my brother's shoulders shaking. Was it even legal to have someone with Tourette's working with customers? Afterwards my brother confessed that he was convinced Johnny Pottymouth had been asked to mind the shop for five minutes, and that the real owner would soon come back and save us.
It seemed that The Shopkeeper's dvd player was the source of his annoyance, and in retrospect I'm glad it was. For surely he would have turned on us in the absence of a machine to aim kicks and belts and rude words at. He definitely had the potential to rear up in a Father Jack manner - Books! Books! Feck! GETOUTGETOUTGETOUT bollixbooks!
Of course during the time that all the swearing and thumping had been going on, I had actually found some books I wanted to buy. My eyes had also been inadvertently drawn to every paperback with the word Mad or Crazy in the title, but that was only to be expected. The dilemma now was whether or not to risk taking my armful up to the counter. For a moment I considered just walking out the door with them. Would The Shopkeeper have noticed? Would he have come running after us, or stayed behind to kick some more machinery?
With trepidation I approached the counter.
"I'd like to buy these books please," I said, just in case he didn't know why I was standing in front of him.
The Shopkeeper grabbed the books from me and made a big show of adding up the prices in his head (tongue hanging out of side of mouth a big help).
I gave him a twenty.
He grabbed the note and groaned loudly, shaking his head from side to side.
I stepped back.
Rrrrrrrmuttermumblegrumblec**t. Now he spent five minutes looking for a giant calculator, in order to subtract 13 from 20.
I feared for the machine, as he battered hell out of the keys. Then he took two one-euro coins and wrapped them up tightly in a five-euro note. I cringed, hoping he wasn't going to put sellotape on it. He looked away from me in drama queen fashion as he held out the change.
Then he began battling with a brown paper bag, which admittedly, was doing its best to eat him alive. To my horror, I noticed that he had bundled up a notebook and a dvd (presumably his) with my books. I was working up the courage to try and point this out to him, but at the last minute he noticed, tipped everything out, and started all over again.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Bangedybang. F**kf**kf**cbollixc**t. Whack.
I took the bag and my brother and I tried not to make it obvious that we were running down the stairs.