I was looking for Timson’s the key-cutters and shoe-repairers because apparently they are now doing ID photos, and an ID photo was what I had to get.
Since it was only a small shopping centre I knew it wasn’t going to take me long. If there was a Timsons thirty seconds should do it. Not like trying to find your way round Bluewater. I believe some people enter Bluewater and are just Never Seen Again.
I should explain that shopping expeditions are a form of torture to me. Going out of the house is torture, finding somewhere to park the car is a nightmare, finding the right change to put in the parking machine and working out all those instructions about coinage and hourly rates is a nightmare and entering a big building infested with my fellow human beings is a nightmare – all those colours, those random people-trajectories. It’s like being a tiny spaceship launched through a wormhole into a universe full of planets on mad, rambling courses.
And then there are the noise, the faces that loom up and vanish, the screeching kids that suddenly cut across your path, or whistle, or shout incomprehensibly from one end of the mall to the other just to hear the echo. I don’t actually hate children but I do abhor them in loose mode, unmodified and un-sensible-ised by parents.
But when I got toTimson’s there was a Fat Woman leaning over the counter discussing a broken watch-strap with the man behind the counter. There only ever seems to be one man behind the counter in Timson’s but I suppose that’s because the shops they rent are all so tiny. Fat Woman was leaning, obsessing, going into great and tedious detail about the broken cheap metal link on the broken cheap metal strap whilst glancing down at intervals towards an equally Fat Child, whose watchstrap this obviously was. She was unaware that I had formed a queue of one behind her. (Had she been, she would have been sure to take even longer.)
I waited for a long time.
I should say, that just down the aisle from Timson’s I had bypassed two perfectly serviceable photo-booths – the sort where you have to sit on an orange plastic stool like something out of Infants’ School, and draw a curtain that obscures your top half but not your bottom-half (which of course fascinates people) and work out where to put coins, and how many coins, and press square boxes on a touch-screen designed for infants (but not for me). Photo-booths unnerve me. I don’t know when I last used one. I suspect there would have been someone else along for moral support.
Get a grip, woman, do! I lectured myself as I returned past the photo-booths to my car to collect my stash of coinage knowing that Fat Woman was not going to move her bum from Timson’s any time soon.
So – now I have a page of photos that will do, for what they are needed for, but which make me look like a serial-killer – or should I say even more like a serial-killer than any other ID photos I have ever had taken. You’d think after a lifetime of photos that made me look either like a serial killer or Emu, depending on whether I was smiling or not, I might have been allowed mature – crumble, you might say – into one of those faded, floury-faced old ladies, all gentle wrinkles, twinkly eyes and kindly, curly perm.
No. Bizarrely, in this photo – for an ID badge which is meant to reassure people that it would be safe to let me into their houses – I have managed to look simultaneously like Emu in his ‘just about to savage you’ frame of mind and a serial-killer – up one side and down the other.
Life’s such a bitch sometimes.