Monday, 4 January 2010


My greengrocer has a wonderful selection of fruit and vegetables. He sells celeriac, can spell it and knows how to hurl it at a shoplifter and get him squarely on the hoodie. He has a few under-the-counter items too. Often a customer would come away sheepishly with a small brown bag. I witnessed the following dialogue:

"Umm, errr", muttered customer, blushing slightly.

"Something for the weekend, sir?", says greengrocer in a sotto voice, pointing at the counter.

"Umm, errr, yes. Please", scarlet customer says.

"The ladies love 'em", he adds with a knowing grin, "About 3 lb fine with you?"

Scarlet customer nods, and retracts head further into coat.

Greengrocer hands him a small brown bag in exchange for some notes and coins of the realm and the customer hurries away.

Afterwards, he looked over to me. "Confession is good for the soul", he said and adjusted his cassock.

"You told me a while ago you weren't in that business?"

"Diversification my boy, diversification", he grinned broadly. I thought about posting letters. "You've seen corner shops containing small Post Offices, I suppose? Well, I had a word with the Vatican and they said they'd consider my idea".

"What idea?", I asked, puzzled.

"Opening a small church inside my greengrocers shop", he said, still smiling. "I've got the new name going up later this afternoon. St Tuppence-a-Pound. Good egh?"

Quick change of subject needed, I thought.

"What did that man want?", I said, referring to the puce gentlemen with no neck buying a paper bag from under the counter.

"Him. Oh, that's Mr Smith - I'm sure that's not his real name - buying sprouts for a roast dinner this weekend. I've convinced him they're banned since we adopted the European Charter of Human Rights.", he grinned again, but much more broadly still. I wrote out next year's Christmas cards. "I charge him £1.50 per sprout, fantastic!"

"Should you be doing that, I mean especially since you're a man of the cloth, so to speak?" I tried to keep the disapproval out of my voice.

"Yeah, apparently I can stand in my own confessional for half-an-hour and I'm all straight. I used to agonise for days when I overpriced or sold rotten fruit and veg. Last week when I sold you seventeen red snooker balls and told you they were really hard, really fresh tomatoes and needed plenty of cooking I could bearly look myself in the eye", he caught my stare, "Bugger! I shouldn't have said that should I?"

"Oh that's why! Explains almost everything. I fed them to my tortoise".

"I'm sorry."

"No you're not. I came out half-an-hour later and he'd painted one white, one black and was well on his way to a break of 147"


  1. Hey 'Difficult, is that the fella who runs the shop on the high street in Slobbering? The one who sold me that "miniature pineapple" that turned out to be an army surplus grenade painted yellow? My Carmen Miranda impression had a lot of impact. And shrapnel.

    Wonderfully daft! Indigo

  2. well damn. wish i'd thought of this before filing bankruptsy.

  3. So THAT's what happened to my Carmen Miranda turban. Damn you, Indigo! And damn you St. Tuppence-a-pound!


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