Two weeks` ago I spent some days away by the seaside at Minehead, accompanied by my lovely son who was visiting us from Vienna. We stopped at a smashing (and cheap) traditional pub called The Britannia Inn which I can highly recommend if you are ever passing through. Lovely place, lovely staff, anyway….. while we were there, we tripped to Porlock Weir and on the way back, stopped for lunch in Porlock itself. We enjoyed a tasty meal and then decided to mooch about the few shops that were open at this winter time of the year, one of them was a gift shop.
I browsed the items on sale and found a lovely pair of earrings. They were in the shape of a carp and inlaid with abalone shell which you may know is a very pretty, iridescent bluey, green colour. I decide to buy them for a friend of mine who has painted some very stunning pictures including a wonderful fish painting. Her name is Anne Nicholls and she is on Facebook or here:
I went to make my purchase, I had noticed a person busying themselves behind the counter, they had their back to me. Hearing my approach, they turned around to face me. “Can I help you?” they enquired in a dark brown voice. I was so startled by their appearance, I honestly had to stop myself from issuing a sharp intake of breath for I figured it would most likely have offended them. I shall refer to this person as her for she was indeed dressed as a woman.
She was statuesque in build, at least six foot five with broad shoulders. She wore what had once been a white cardigan and which now displayed stains of various descriptions all over her front. Her hair was long and unwashed, it was pulled back into a pony tail, I think she would be in her fifties. A few inches of greying hair at the roots, led down to a sort of brassy ginger. Around her chin she sprouted a beard of curly, ginger hairs. She wore pebble lens glasses. I tried not to stare.
As she picked up my purchase to wrap, I could not help but gaze at her enormous hands. Each fingernail painted in what was once glittery, silver nail polish it had been resident on her nails for so long it was a sort of translucent grey colour, chipped and had lost all of its glitter. Her nails were long and pointy and several of her digits were embellished with a massive coating of nicotine. I didn`t know whether to be horrified or fascinated.
My son had also noticed her and rather worryingly, was now outside waiting for me.
In any event I made my purchase, they are beautiful earrings and I couldn`t help but wonder how a person can allow their appearance to become so startling. She reminded me of the sort of character you might find in a Roald Dahl book, the sort of character that gives small children nightmares. My son and I exchanged telepathic glances before scurrying away to the car park.
I am not writing this to be cruel or poke fun at somebody, I just find people endlessly interesting and I wondered how many customers she may have scared away, or indeed attracted!
English eccentricity is one of the things that makes the world keep turning, I guess.
I should know!