Thursday, August 17, 2006

His Kampf

Just been chatting to a friend I used to work with in the bookshop in Canterbury. She, by a strange coincidence, was also from Falmouth, and has now moved back down here, where she now manages a local bookshop. Anyway she asked if I could help her out with a few days a week, but unfortunately I would be even less reliable than I ever used to be, as I'm constantly having to vanish up to London to... well, buy comics really.

I did, for just a few seconds, consider helping out unpaid for a few hours a week just for the pleasure of hanging around a bookshop again. Then I remembered: customers. Ew. Still, I've helped her out with a list of proper decent graphic novels and SF stuff which would turn round a rather moribund section, and more importantly, Actually Sell.

But the whole conversation did remind me of an excellent conversation I had once with one of a group of workmen who were redecorating the Canterbury bookshop after hours. I was tootling about reshelving, doing returns and so forth, only to become aware of a Workman, gazing shyly at me in a working class sort of way* from the other side of the True Crime section.

ME: Hmm?

WORKMAN: Mate- while I've got you, I was particularly looking for ‘Mein Kampf’.

ME: Errr... okay.

WORKMAN: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with the ideology.

ME: Oh. Well. Good.

WORKMAN: No, what interests me is the forcefulness of his phrasing. The rhythms of his diction. How one man was able to sway a nation, if you like.

ME: Right.

WORKMAN: I’ve got nothing against the Jews. My last wife was a Jew.

ME: Mmmm.

Pause.

WORKMAN: Mind you, I fucking hated her.

Pause.

ME: (weakly) I’ll go and see what they’ve got.

I run away.



* Mind you, as a skilled tradesman he'd be earning probably twice as much as me at this point. And still does, I suspect.

16 comments:

Terri Nixon said...

That's going to turn up on the telly someday and I'll be watching for writing credits when it does! How come you're always lucky enough to be present when pearls like that drop from the sky, and all I get is "scuse me, you're standing on my handbag strap." Hardly fair now, is it?

Anonymous said...

you have the most interesting and possibly comedic conversations i've heard. first the green grocer and now a quite camp workman. when he said ex-wife i bet you he meant boyfriend.

leonie said...

"the forcefulness of his phrasing"! - gahahahaha!!!

realdoc said...

I admired the late Dr. Harold Shipman for the neatness of his beard.

Hamilton's Brain said...

And your former manager's interview technique? What was that like, James?

james henry said...

Idiosyncratic.

Hamilton's Brain said...

Diplomatically put.

entropy said...

"Still, I've helped her out with a list of proper decent graphic novels and SF stuff..."

You can't mention lists around here and not expand on them.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

I taught the good Doc (Latham not Shipman) all he knows about interviewing.
The question about "Who would play you in the movie of your life?" is mine (or Nagna's, but she is in parts foreign so I will lay claim to it)

james henry said...

I panicked and said the first person I could think of, which was 'Siobhan Fahey from Shakespeares Sister'. Then I changed my mind and said John Cusack, which was a much better answer.

Anyway, I got the job, and that's the important thing. Best job I ever had.

*sniffs slightly*

Squarah said...

ARGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! I used to have nightmares about Shakespeares Sister! There was something very wrong with that video - I still have to hide if it's ever shown now!

Aimee said...

"The rhythms of his diction"?

"I've got nothing against Jews. My last wife was a Jew"?

What a bizarre combination of opinions to be heard in a single conversation. Those working classes, honestly.

love's child said...

Have you TRIED reading Mein Kampf? It's a bloody nightmare, Hitler has a train of thought that greatly resembles curly fries.

leonie said...

ah yes, the working classes arent what they used to be.
earlier today, my roommate and i managed to repair the washing machine.
i am now thinking about doing that for a living. I'd earn a lot more money and would definitely have job security.
In contrast to my MA that just makes any prospective employer smile kindly and shake their head pitifully.

frangelita said...

Love's child - fantastic description.

love's child said...

Why, thank you, frangelita!