Sunday, May 17, 2009
I wandered idly into one of those army surplus shops (ah, here it is!) in the groovy students' area of Norwich yesterday. It was a cave of military clothes, knives, hand grenades, survival gear and guns. Weakened by the claustrophobic atmosphere I bought a shirt (at least I think it's a shirt, it's got so much structure and metal it could well be a motor bike) for £9.99. The main behind the counter - shaved head, three ear-rings in one ear - was serving me wordlessly until suddenly he announced, 'I am in a world of pain.' Feeling I had stumbled into a Coen brothers movie, I prepared to signal my assent while gesturing at the encircling militaria. The words 'Well, quite' were just forming in my lips when I realised he was looking over my shoulder. He was, in fact, addressing an old man behind me who was nodding sympathetically. The pain in question was not that of war but of some secret emotional or possibly medical turmoil. I learned a valuable lesson - silent, shaved-headed men surrounded by weaponry and wearing three ear-rings in one ear have feelings too.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:33 am