Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Culture shock

We got a visit from the old bill today, not just your average plods but C.I.D. It seems they are very pleased with my brother who witnessed some chavs nicking something. Being a nosey git he made a note of the car, the colour, the make, registration number, description of the perps and what they took.
The old bill are very interested in these two chavs, because they've been very active recently, nicking stuff from all and sundry, but they've got no hard evidence on which they can get a warrant to search their house. Now they have thanks to bro'.
Tomorrow morning at 05:00am they're going to break down the door and arrest the two guys. Then have a good nose around looking for stolen goods.


Meanwhile this Jamaican dude came into the shop looking for a cheap microwave. I sold him one. I delivered it to his shop. The first thing that hits you as you walk in is the smell of coconut. It's very intense, then there's the unmistakable waft of Marijuana coming from somewhere. The shop is empty. I shout "Hello!" nothing.
I shout again "Hello! I'm going to steal all your stock."
There's a shuffle at the back of the shop. I stand there waiting and beyond the racks of Plantains, Yams, Sweet potatos and melons, a door opens a crack, someone peers round the door at me.
The door is quickly shut again.
More shuffling. I look around the shop. Cannabis lollypops are on the counter and packets of dried Jerk beef hang from a shelf. There's bottles of exotic fruit juices on top of the shelves.
The door opens again, a waft of smoke comes out and a lady steps into the shop. I glimpse men in the back room and as soon as they see me look in their direction the door is shut firmly again.
"You have my Microwave? Good. Can you put it in here?"
She motions me to a side room, containing more exotic products and a fridge. I stand the microwave oven down on the floor next to the fridge and take a look around. There's no windows. One solitary unshaded lamp lights the room. At the far end of the room is a curtain hung on a wire. It's not fully drawn and there's a bed behind it. What do they need a bed in an afro caribbean grocery store for? She hurries me out of the room.
"This mus' be so strange to yoo." she says.
"Not really."
"All dis stuffs."
"I've seen it."
"You have?"
"Yes I used to live in Kingston, Jamaica."
"When was dat?"
"1981." I say.
"Oh King-ston. Dats a very bad place, all dem mudders an killin's. Where you lib?"
"I lived at Beaulie Heights at the top of the hill, you walk down past Desnoes and Geddes book store on the cross roads and then down the road into Kingston town."
"Das not a good place fo' you white boys."
"It was cool. No problem. I even caught the bus. I was the only white boy on the bus."
"No."
"Yes after five minutes I had loads of friends on the bus."
We finished up talking and I walked out the store. Outside sitting on wicker chairs these black dudes eyed me suspiciously. I guess they were the muscle for the operation. They sit there all day everyday, doing nothing. I say nothing, occassionally they strike up and pull on a bottle of strong Jamaican lager. Teenage white girls dressed in next to nothing, halter tops and mini skirts sit on the brick wall outside batting the breeze and whiling away the time.
The main man bounces up and down the road, he's dressed in a white baseball cap with a Foreign legion neck protector down the back, he's sporting designer shades, an oversize brightly coloured t-shirt over the top of baggy jeans. He tosses me a grin. I catch it and smile back but he's lost interest already. His minders, always close, dress in black. Black dudes in black clothes. They never smile. They just sit watching.
A vauxhall nova pulls up. There's three chavs in it. They swagger to the store. Thew first one scores a high five with the main man the other two shuffle on in behind him. They go in the shop. They don't come out with carrier bags full of plantains and sweet potatos. I can't see them having any use for Afro-Caribbean hair products either. Instead the first one is sticking something small into his jeans front pocket. The other two crowd around him excitedly. "come on. Come on." I hear them say. "Divvy up"
"Wait." he says sensibly. And they make for the Nova and climb in. They tear away with a screaching of tyres. But it's not their tyres that are screaching.

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