Someone advertises free books on Freecycle. I respond, asking if they’re still available. They are, the book-keeper says, and she’d be happy to drop them around on Saturday morning. Leave a number and an address.
AM- No one comes. I email the person to ask what time they will be arriving but receive no response. I leave for the afternoon to go and have some fun. I return in the evening, fire up the PC and get back to the editing. Saturday night’s the best night to edit, residences are quiet, everyone is distracted by the illusion of freedom. The person I’ve been conversing with about the books has, thanks to GChat protocol, added to my chat box. She pops online about 11pm. I politely ask her what the deal is with the books and receive no response.
Fifteen minutes later the phone rings. It’s her. She apologises for not coming round with the books. I tell her it’s no bother, she’s doing me a favour. I can come to her in the morning. She tells me a situation has arisen.
HER: So, yeah, I’ve had a situation arise in Norwich so yeah...
ME: Well, it’s not a problem, they’re only books. Deal with your thing and maybe we’ll speak when it’s all resolved.
HER: You don’t understand. A friend needs money. I wouldn’t normally do this because it’s free recyling and stuff, but there’s 100s of books. Will you give me money for them. I hate to ask but my mate needs money and I’ve promised her I’ll get her it.
ME: I don’t really feel comfortable given the nature of the free recyling programme. Also, I have no money, which is why I signed up.
HER: Yeah, I understand that. But this is a good list of books. I mean, it has all of Barbara Cartland’s releases; it has A Guide to Cutting your Own Hair; it has Twenty Ways to Ice a Cake. It’s good stuff. And £100 isn’t much seeing as they’re free.
ME: But if I give you £100, they’re not free.
HER: Yeah, I get that. Quite a situation. Look, my friend desperately needs the money. She’s stuck in Norfolk.
ME: Sure, listen, if you need money for the books, there’s a second hand shop in Notting Hill that’ll give you cash for the books.
HER: Are they open 24 hours?
ME: I doubt it.
HER: Look I really need the money desperately. My friend is really drunk and fell asleep in a taxi. She lives on Norfolk Close but the taxi driver thought she said Norfolk, so he’s driven her there and has locked the car doors and refuses to let her out till he gets the fare.
ME: Is this a wind-up?
[She bursts into tears]
ME: I’m sorry- it does sound far-fetched.
HER: I know, I’m desperate, I really need her to come home.
ME: I can’t help you, I’m sorry.
HER: I understand. Sorry for dumping my troubles on you. Listen, I just signed up to Facebook. Are you on there?
I hurried her off the phone, deleted her from my Gchat and considered changing my number. Surely a wind-up? Is there even a Norfolk Close in London?
I am stood in a second hand record shop in Soho on Sunday, catching up with my friend Tom, who works behind the counter. We are interrupted by this following exchange.
MAN: Do you have the TV series Blue Grace?
TOM: Sorry, what’s it called?
MAN: Blue Grace.
TOM: Sorry, never heard of it. When was it made?
MAN: I don’t know. I just heard of it, very good quality.
TOM: Is it US or UK?
MAN: Quite varied I think. They made a lot of series.
TOM: And it’s called Blue Grace?
MAN: Yes. Blue Grace? Blue Greys?
TOM [to sneery colleague]: Have you heard of a TV show called Blue Greys or Blue Grace?
TOM: Who’s in it?
MAN: I don’t know but it got lots of critical praise. Sony said it was ‘high definition’.
ME: Wait, do you mean Blue Ray discs?
MAN: Blue Ray... yes!! That’s it. I need to buy Blue Ray.
TOM: Blue Ray is a type of disc like DVD.
MAN: Oh... really? I was wondering. It was too good to be true, a TV series starring Indiana Jones and Batman.
TOM: Is this a wind-up?
ME: Are we on The Sunday Night Project?
MAN (angry): Look, I’m embarrassed enough as it is... don’t take the piss too...
He then storms out.
London is officially full of weirdoes.
Amazingly, at the moment, I am reading ‘All Ears’ by Michael Holden at the moment, a collection of ‘overheard conversations’ that has its own column in the Guardian Guide. Maybe through reading this, I am tuning my ears into the weirdest conversations London has to offer.
Brain Drain #3 - Photos
7 years ago