1. So what happened to Christmas and January, I hear you ask (having acquired the psychic abilities of Moon Kinnaird)? Well, Christmas was complicated and although I did make a few trips to Poundland I’d been given instructions not to fill people’s houses with rubbish and I was usually under supervision, so I decided not to bother recording my purchases. The only thing of interest was a DVD of Flawless, a neat little heist movie with Demi Moore and Michael Caine. January was taken up with decorating.
2. I only had time to visit the number one Poundland shop in Hanley since I had left the good lady wife and her aged parent shopping for food in Marks & Spencer’s. I could have pointed out that Poundland also sells food, but I knew that would fall on deaf ears, and not just those of the aged parent. There has been some kerfuffle lately about the jobcentre sending feckless underclass types to Poundland for unpaid training in the retail trade, which may account for the fact that a man in Poundland handed me my basket. I could have picked it up myself, so I don’t think there is really a need for a basket-hander, but I suppose if he wasn’t trained in that department he would not be entitled to the £26,000 a year which everybody on the dole gets these days. I also saw a security man, which is a damning indictment of the current state of Britain. If one is so poor that one has to resort to shoplifting from Poundland then what has the country come to? I blame the illegal immigrants who don’t realise that they can just go to the jobcentre and ask for their £26,000 in cash as is their right according to Mr. Cameron.
3. As it happened I didn’t buy much for me. In fact, apart from the supplies all I found was a fizzing ninja. The Jimmy Carter book and the mug were for the good lady wife, who has an interest in American politics and Pooh. The American Politics section of the Poundland book department was well-stocked and I was spoiled for choice, but plumped for the Jimmy Carter since he seems like such a nice man. Piglet is her favourite character.
4. I am well versed in the arts of ninjutsu, so that’s why I was attracted to the fizzing ninja and it had nothing to do with the fact that I was not allowed to buy toys at Christmas. The ninja is adept at skills of stealth and concealment but I have never come across the ploy of hiding in a fizzy bar of soap only to be revealed and ready for action when one is immersed in a bowl of warm water. One lives and learns. The ninja thus revealed can also have his head replaced by another (if you buy two), which is yet another skill that you don’t expect when confronting ninjas as you go about your daily life, and which would have been useful when I returned to Marks & Spencer’s and found the good lady wife and her aged parent standing shivering in the cold of the car park because I’d taken too long strolling round Poundland in a leisurely manner with the car keys.
5. Here is a video of the fizzing ninja, with before and after photos. In the first photo the ninja is using his camouflage skills since it had been snowing. In the second photo he stands fully revealed and when I checked the back of the packet I found his name was Iwin.
Ninja in snow camouflage suit.
Iwin the Ninja - fully revealed and ready for action!
Friday, 9th March - Newcastle-under-Lyme
The Last Lovecraft DVD.
1 tin of London lighter gas.
2 packs of 6 disposable lighters.
1. It was one of those iffy days when there’s a big black cloud but it’s not cold, so I eschewed me jumper but wore me big coat and went the cemetery, then up to Newcastle since I was out of lighters, but by then the cloud had disappeared and the sun was shining on the Eloi and so by the time I’d walked up the big hill from Homebase (free parking for 2 hours) I was sweating like her out the muppets, so when I got to Poundland I was in no mood to stand and ponder and I did have it in mind to just grab the lighters and go, plus the tin of lighter gas since them refillable halloween lighters I bought turned out to be not too bad so it’s useful to have them as backups, but then I spotted the dvd - The Last Lovecraft. Which I have bought so you don’t have to. There is a breed of men (and I count myself in their number) who will buy anything if ‘Lovecraft’ is on the label. Stick it on a tin of beans and I’d buy it. Although that’s not a good example since I buy beans anyway; a better example would be a ticket for the Olympics. If it was the Lovecraft Olympics then I’d be first in the queue, hoping to get a front row seat for the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath in the Tug o’ War. So, that’s me point. H. P. Lovecraft is one of those strange writers who are both incredibly influential and yet still drift around the outskirts of mainstream consciousness - a bit like Jorge Luis Borges, in fact, whose beans I would also buy despite him being blind and dead so you’d be advised to firk them around a bit with a fork in case he let the odd woodlouse drop into the tomato sauce. So I bought the dvd and watched it, in full knowledge that it would not be good, which it wasn’t. I have no complaints about the packaging of the dvd which fully prepared me for the fact that this was going to be rubbish - “A knowingly goofy monster flick in the vein of ‘Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer’ with ‘The Hangover’ style of comedy. The Last Lovecraft is a light-hearted and downright funny movie made for all.” Anything described as ‘goofy’ or ‘made for all’ is not likely to be good. Consider Goofy. And ‘made for all’ implies a belief in the homogeneity of mankind which is undermined by 5,000 years of history and the 15 certificate stamped on the cover. But we must be grateful that they didn’t go down the other road and stick a picture of the Great Cthulhu on the cover and try to sell it as a horror flick. There is no attempt to deceive and the picture of four unprepossessing gents looking like they’re having fun is warning enough that this belongs to that circle of hell to which Dante consigned the comedians. On the plus side, there’s a germ of a nice idea here, and, for a low-budget independent movie, the production values are quite high and there are some nice animations.
Thursday, 12th April - Hanley (little shop)
Intolerable Cruelty DVD.
The Day After Tomorrow DVD.
1 pair of reading glasses - 3.50 strength.
Value pack of Knights Castile soap. 5 bars for the price of 4.
1 pack of 2 toilet cleaner things.
2 packs of 4 electronic lighters.
1. This was a strange one. All I’d gone in for was some lighters, and soap, and maybe the toilet cleaner things if I spotted them and they were cheap. Strange the way the economy works. You can still get cheap bread from Mr. Morrison’s but he’s just put his kippers up by 50% - I have heard no news of a kipper shortage. Likewise toilet cleaner things are ridiculously expensive. Herr Aldi has the cheapest but we didn’t want to bother, so I ran into Poundland and the good lady wife parked on the double yellows outside with the motor running. As for the soap, the cheapest Mr. Morrison does loses its molecular consistency halfway through its natural lifespan so you end up spending five minutes moulding it before you can have a wash and since I don’t intend to be banged up in Leavenworth with the likes of John Dillinger, I do not believe soap- moulding skills will come in useful anytime soon. So I chose the Knights Castile, not because it brought back memories of my youth, for Knights Castile is one of those constants like the speed of light unlike Spangles and Nuxes, but because it said ‘5 bars for the price of 4’ on the packet. I also bought some reading glasses since the other pair I’ve got have lost all the plastic protective bits and stick in my nose and I saw a pair with proper plastic frames in the Chemist’s but they were £5 which seemed a bit much, so I got a pair from Poundland. I bought the highest strength they’d got, working on the principle that if they’re Poundland glasses then they’ll be rubbish, but the good lady wife was shocked and reckoned they’d give me a headache. We shall see. I only use them on a Sunday night anyroad since we seem to watch a lot of stuff on telly then with adverts in, so in them bits I read The Observer and find out what the smart people down London are doing. Actually when I got home and looked at the bit of card which came with the glasses there’s an eye test on there and I can do it all, so maybe I don’t need them after all, maybe we just need some brighter light bulbs.
2. So, since I’d bought the glasses, I thought I might as well have a quick look at the DVDs and what do you know, they’d got a load of new ones in. Or, are they new? They all had stickers saying ‘Replay Pre-owned, fully refurbished, Quality Guaranteed’. I consulted the internet and came up with this, but I’m none the wiser. The The Day After Tomorrow disc is a bit scratched (although it plays ok) so I reckon the sticker is telling the truth. Still not sure why I bothered buying that - I think I was panicking a bit because the good lady wife was waiting - I just had a feeling it wasn’t as bad as ‘From The Director of Independence Day’ made it sound. Intolerable Cruelty is for Coen Brothers completists only. It comes from their rubbish period, but is quite watchable and has some funny bits. I almost bought a copy of The Island, which is right rubbish, but is a masterpiece compared to Never Let Me Go - they’re both about clones being bred for spares and were both ripped off from Michael Marshall Smith’s book, Spares, but since Never Let Me Go was based on a Kazuo Ishiguro novel the clones just sit there moaning and pretending they’re not in a science fiction film, whereas in The Island they at least run around a bit and try to escape, which is what you’d do if you were a clone in real life. Which you aren’t because it’s a pack of daft, so dunner werrit.
3. Considering I’d just run in to get some lighters imagine my horror when all I could find were the rubbish electronic kind, and only four to a packet! Yet another ploy to get me to give up smoking. Although if I did then where would the government get all its money to help out the rich folk? Mr. Morrison has just put big steel doors over his tobacco products so now you have to state your requirements then stand there waiting for the tobacco lady to open each door in turn until she finds the pipe tobacco. Chuck in an owd feller with a gong and you’ve got ‘Take Your Pick’. I blame the excitable lady scientist what was on telly a while ago going on about finally finding a link between Alzheimer’s and smoking. I may have mentioned this before but if so blame the early onset. She reckoned that in the past all the smokers died before they could get Alzheimer’s (blessed release if you ask me) but now some poor bugger had lasted the course and a link was proved. So, at the moment I’m ok since I know what I want, but give it a few more years and I’ll be standing at the tobacco counter staring at the steel doors without a clue what to ask for. Off I will wander, going mumble, and the government will have achieved its purpose. Bastards!
Tuesday, 24th April - Llandudno
1 pack of 4 Kodak ‘C’ batteries.
1 pack of 2 Kodak Xtralife ‘C’ batteries.
2 packs of 6 disposable lighters (not electronic but with the little wheel thing).
1. Batteries and lighters, hardly worth bothering, but since this was my first visit to Llandudno Poundland I thought it should be registered in a trainspotting kind of way (not taking drugs and running down the street swearing, but in the olden fashion). Llandudno Poundland even in the off-season is a bit rubbish so god help them what go there with their buckets and spades in the summer months when the Punch & Judy man is back on duty scaring the kiddies.
2. The lack of a bag needs explanation. We were offered a bag but now there is a law in Wales that all bags must be paid for and the man on the till wanted 5p, so the batteries and lighters went into the good lady wife's handbag. Presumably this is a green thing but seems rather unnecessary in Llandudno where people can't walk down the street without having the pasties ripped out of their hands by the seagulls, who are obviously now in control. What Plied Cumry haven’t taken into account in their reckless policy of appeasement to the seagulls and their ilk is the effect on the health of Mr. Poundland. For years now, he’s been sat there in his counting-house at the end of the day, pressing the 1 button on his calculator, totting up his takings. Now, when the Welsh accounts come in, he’s got to start mucking about with decimals. He’ll be up all night, poor chap.
Tuesday, 5th June - Hanley (little shop)
The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin.
High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips.
2 250g boxes of multi purpose lawn seed.
1 packet of Cadbury Chocolate Mallows.
2 packs of 6 disposable lighters.
Two, in fact. Down in Worthing the other week, No. 2 son showed me a natty little box of blades for cutting things in a crafty sort of way and I had a look round for one in Hanley, found it, then realised I had nothing to cut and put it back. And a motion detector in the shape of a big plastic frog which made a noise (presumably ‘ribbit’) whenever something hove into view. I was struck by the novelty of this and thought it might look well next to my buddha head in the garden, but then I remembered William the cat, who is of a very nervous disposition and would probably never speak to me again if I purchased such an item.
1. We rarely set foot out of the house on a Bank Holiday but the good lady wife had business in town and the plan was for me to drop her off then drive round and pick her up. As it happened Hanley was deserted. Presumably everyone was either in London or sat at wom watching the telly as the good Queen continued her jubilee celebrations, curing the lepers and whatnot. So, turned out there was no trouble parking and I nipped into Poundland for a quick shufty.
2. I bought some more grass seed since my lawn is like God - the one that Nanci Griffith sings about in ‘From A Distance’. From the distance of the back kitchen my lawn looks all nice and green and growing but get a bit closer and there’s big gaps between the leaves of grass, so I thought I’d better get some more seed to scatter. I think I misinterpreted ‘From A Distance’ when I first heard it. I thought it was saying that God was an uncaring bastard who’d just wandered off somewhere, couldn’t see what a mess he’d made and we were now left to our own devices. Then Cliff Richard and Bette Midler did versions and I realised we were supposed to think that everything was all right because, even though it might seem we were on our own, God was still keeping an eye out, from a distance. Actually the first interpretation is very close to Robert Buchanan’s assessment of God in his ‘Carmen Deific’:
“If I were a God like you, and you were a man like me, And in the dark you prayed and wept and I could hear and see, The sorrow of your broken heart would darken all my day, And never peace or pride were mine, till it was smiled away,— I’d clear my Heaven above your head till all was bright and blue, If you were a man like me, and I were a God like you!”
3. It’s down to Buchanan that I spend most of my life in Victorian times and that’s why I bought The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin, which is set during that era. There was only one copy on the shelf so I presume somebody knew I was coming in, which would worry a more paranoid soul.
4. Mackenzie Phillips. The name rang a faint bell although the picture on the cover didn’t. Then I remembered. She played the girl who jumped in Paul Le Mat’s car in American Graffiti and was involved in the ensuing high jinks. A great debut, followed by a role in Rafferty and the Goldust Twins, a so-so Alan Arkin film, and that was all I knew. Apart from the fact she was the daughter of John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas. Reading the blurb it seems she then got stuck in a sitcom on American TV and turned to drugs. This sort of rehabilitation biography does not normally appeal, but my curiosity was piqued.
5. Of the two John Ford films I rate, Stagecoach is one, so I bought it.
6. And a final thought on Her Majesty’s Jubilee. I caught a bit of the big concert, Shirley Bassey suddenly appeared, looking and sounding like she always did. And it occurred to me that nothing’s changed over the last 60 years. The great hippy revolution of the 60s and the anarchy of the 70s, with all that talk of freedom, have become mere fashion fads like beatniks and teddy-boys and it turns out the only item of apparel that still commands respect is the top hat. Plus ça change.
Tuesday, 17th July - Worthing
Final Destination DVD.
Dark Floors - The Lordy Movie DVD.
Alice In Wonderland DVD.
The Great British Interactive Pub Quiz 2010 - Britain’s No. 1 Pub Quiz DVD
Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed The World by David Maraniss.
Richard Stark Omnibus: Comeback and Flashfire.
Conan’s Brethren by Robert E. Howard.
2 packs of 6 disposable lighters.
3 Gift Bags with matching tags.
A cuddly monster toy for new grandson Eric. Rejected on the grounds that I couldn’t work out what it was meant to be - its head was wrapped in bandages like a mummy, but it had sprouts of hair sticking out and a hole where its stomach ought to be, plus Eric is too young to appreciate such things and I thought I should wait until he has reached the stage where he can differentiate between rubbish and quality items like Jungle Panda.
1. I had hoped to visit Brighton Poundland this time since No. 2 son keeps telling me how good it is but I had a touch of the gout and since I feared a dearth of sedan chairs in the metropolis I opted to hobble to the local branch in Worthing, which he reckoned was rubbish. Turned out he was wrong.
2. It’s always a good idea to have a quiz DVD handy for those occasions when someone suggests we play a game then no one can be bothered setting up the board for “Seedy Adventurer” or “Khufu The Mummy” so we end up playing “Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit” and on our team is someone who’s never read the books, nor seen the films, and we’re playing against someone who would choose Tolkien as their specialist subject on Mastermind and who can remember what the Men of Gondor were doing with the Riders of Rohan on a rainy Tuesday in Minas Tirith, whereas the rest of us just go Merry Pippin. So The Great British Interactive Pub Quiz 2010 will remain in its cellophane until the time is right when it will be whipped out and a level playing field can be enjoyed by all.
3. Staying with the world of fantasy fiction, I bought the Robert E. Howard book for No. 1 son since he had the complete set of Conan stories, but I wasn’t sure whether he had the other Howard heroes, like (my favourite) Solomon Kane. Conan’s Brethren is a nice collection of these other tales and he hadn’t got them, so good call, and that’s why the other photo since it stayed down in Worthing. I also bought the Richard Stark book for him, as he is a fan, but he reckoned it would just go on his pile of books to read so he suggested I put it on my pile of books to read instead. Richard Stark is Donald E. Westlake. Richard Stark wrote the Parker books, one of which became Point Blank, and Westlake wrote the John Dortmunder books, one of which became The Hot Rock. Both of him are good writers.
4. Dark Floors - The Lordy Movie is The Lordy Movie.
5. Most horror films are just variations on the bogeyman, so when something original comes along it should be applauded. Clap to Final Destination then, which does bring a new idea to the genre and executes it with more than a modicum of wit and skill. The sequels are a bit variable, but full marks to Final Destination 5.
6. I think I’ve ignored the Hallmark version of Alice in Wonderland on several occasions, mainly because it’s the Hallmark version, but I’d got 9 items in my basket and thought I’d make it easier for the till man so I plumped for this. As Alice in Wonderlands go, its better than the recent Tim Burton version, but not as good as the 1933 one where they use real flamingos in the croquet scene. The inevitable longueurs in the tale are largely circumvented by the cast which is jampacked with familiar faces, so when boredom begins to set in along come Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Robbie Coltrane and Norm from Cheers), or the Walrus and the Carpenter (Peter Ustinov and Pete Postlethwaite). I also thought it was a nice tribute to the great tradition of English artistic eccentricity to cast Ken Campbell and Heathcote Williams in bit parts.
7. Government scientists have now decided that sitting on a sofa watching television all day is just as dangerous as smoking. Since I tend to sit on a sofa all day watching television, while smoking, I am doubly cursed and am akin to those fellows who climb mountains or throw themselves off tall buildings attached to a piece of string in the dangerous living stakes. I have a feeling that government scientists will not be happy until we’re all running up and down the street in our vests and pants, eating bananas. So, given my sedentary lifestyle, and my total lack of interest in the upcoming bunfight in London, why did I buy Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed The World by David Maraniss? I shall tell you. The worst holiday I ever had was in 1960. My dad had taken a school trip to the Rome Olympics and as a compensatory treat, my mum took me and my sister and Nana Finney to Morecambe for a week. I have no idea why we went to Morecambe. We usually went to Fleetwood with its sandy beach, the machine shop (aka amusement arcade) on the pier, the cinema, the docks where you could watch the trawlers, the putting green, all the usual delights (although it was best to avoid the marionette show for obvious reasons). I suspect Nana Finney was to blame, but why she should then look for a suitable place to stay in Les Dawson’s joke book, I cannot say. All I remember about it was that it was dark and had notices everywhere, on the staircase saying that children shouldn’t run up it, on the taps, telling you to turn them off, and that the landlady just needed a broomstick and a black cat to complete the picture. Morecambe had no sandy beach, just acres of mud, and no machine shops nor anything else to entice a 9 year-old. The main attraction was a park with illuminations, and we went expecting the animated tableaux of Blackpool, but there were just a few coloured lightbulbs scattered among the trees. The only thing I can say in Morecambe’s favour is that it didn’t have any marionettes. And every night, my mother would have to take her mother to a pub so that she could have her regular glass of stout, and me and my sister would sit outside with a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps and contemplate the futility of existence. The one day we did enjoy was when we took the ferry over to Fleetwood and met up with our Uncle Pat and his family, who were having a proper holiday. We were like lost souls finally released from Purgatory, passing through the gates of Paradise. No doubt the good burghers of Morecambe would object to my description of their town but they are wrong. My memory is clear. I was that soldier. Over the years it became something of a family joke. The year my dad went to the Rome Olympics and we went to Morecambe. When my mother died and my sister and I had to think of something to write on the card with our flowers, neither of us being comfortable with the cloyingly sentimental, I suggested, with a nod to Casablanca, “We’ll always have Morecambe”. And so I bought the book. I doubt whether it will mention my dad, but I am curious to find out why the Rome Olympics changed the world. The only effect it had on me was that I vowed never to set foot in Morecambe again, but I’m assuming Mr. Maraniss has uncovered more evidence than that.
Monday, 1st October - Hanley (big shop)
The Deal DVD.
The Fifth Commandment DVD.
2 packs of 6 CD cases. 1 pack of 70 paper CD covers. 1 pack of 4 Sony New Ultra C batteries. 1 jar of Cadbury’s Highlights.
Ezra Pound’s Chinese Friends: Stories in Letters edited by Zhaoming Qian. I was really sorry to leave this on the shelf since I applaud Mr. Poundland’s attempt to raise the tone of his book department. However I have never found anything to like about Mr. Ezra Pound and so I had to let it go. I also rejected Cynicism and the Evolution of the American Dream by Wilber W. Caldwell, which did intrigue me a little, but I felt Mr. Caldwell’s thesis might be flawed since I’ve never considered Americans to be a particularly cynical race. I also rejected some Star Trek figures from the recent film after spending quite a few minutes deciding whether I should purchase the new Spock or the classic one, or maybe Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy, who was always my favourite, before reaching the conclusion that I was now an old man and should not be buying toys. On the same principle I also rejected a selection of Huntik toys, which previously I would have bought because I did not know what a ‘huntik’ was, although I was sorely tempted by a tin of Huntik stuff, since when tins are involved all other considerations are null and void - similarly with magnets - but with age comes maturity, so I forewent the pleasure of opening the tin, besides I think it was just one of those collectable card games which have never been a good idea.
1. I bought Nightwatch because it is good and I don’t have a copy. For some reason it comes with a sampler DVD of the remake of The Omen. Presumably somebody in marketing had an idea.
2. I bought The Deal because it had William H. Macy in it and I can’t recall having seen it. It also has Meg Ryan in it after her mistake with the plastic surgeon (judging by the pictures on the cover) so that might be a bit off-putting. Nevertheless it says it’s “A Different Kind of Romantic Comedy”, which I take to mean it could be good.
3. I bought The Fifth Commandment because there was a time when the only DVDs you could buy in Poundland were films like The Fifth Commandment, which belongs to the film genre known as kicky. Sometimes of a night, you do not want to settle down with pipe and mug of tea and watch Jacob Bronowski arguing with A. J. P. Taylor about the state of the world, or its modern equivalent, Andrew Marr going on his holidays with his local amateur dramatic society and making stuff up, you would much rather enjoy the simpler pleasure of watching people kick each other. So, I bought The Fifth Commandment on that basis, and despite the fact that it was “from the stunt teams that brought you The Transporter, Crank and Avatar” (although what the stunt teams did on Avatar I don’t know, I would have thought they’d just draw the difficult bits) and films from stunt teams are by definition stuntmen films, a recognised subgenre of kicky and in general best avoided. When I got my purchases home I was struck by a strange religious doubt. Pardon my mentioning Robert Buchanan again, but it is he who struck me. In 1890 he dramatised Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment under the title, The Sixth Commandment, which was meant to convey ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’. Here I had bought a film called The Fifth Commandment, and on the cover was printed beneath the title, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. I was confused and consulted my bible and wikipedia said that both were right. ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ is both the fifth or sixth commandment depending on which religion you follow. It all depends where you put the punctuation in the words of God, whether you separate the long preamble at the beginning in which case ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ comes in at Number 6, or go for dividing up the coveting section at the end, in which case murdering people is Number 5. You’d think God would have sorted that out a bit better since these are his laws and we’re all supposed to follow them. Perhaps he should have told Moses to use bullet points. Still, for a moment there I was worried that I hadn’t in fact bought a kicky film at all but one in which “Holed up on the mean streets of Bangkok, maverick assassin Chance turns down a job he feels hits too close to home and spends the next 90 minutes honouring his father and mother.”
4. I should explain the absence of lighters in the supplies lest you think I have given up smoking. At the Hanley big shop you have to ask for lighters at the checkout because they are kept behind the counter. I assume this extra security is due to the size of the shop and the fact that scientists have been known to acquire incendiary devices in order to set fire to toys from Poundland, a danger which the recent edition of Channel 4’s Dispatches highlighted. In other Poundland shops a check is made when you buy lighters and the checkout person presses a button on the till and a beep is heard and that means you are not a scientist. The Dispatches programme was also helpful in pointing out that Mr. Poundland goes to the trouble of buying his loaves from Asda then removes a few slices and repackages them so that he can maintain the clarity of his business model. This was further examined in a section where the presenter of the programme, Harry Wallop (presumably his clown name, although he was not wearing clown make-up, which I believe is an offence in this sceptred isle) opened his own fake Poundland shop next door to the real one and sold a couple of loaves of bread, some biscuits and a breakfast cereal, thus demonstrating how difficult it is to run a real Poundland and at the same time annoying the few customers who happened to be fooled by his subterfuge. One was reminded of the antics of Mr. Pastry, and I do not hold out much hope of seeing Mr. Wallop cutting capers at Blackpool Tower Circus anytime soon. And then there was a section when we went to a Scientology conference or one of those cheap horror films where they can’t hire a proper cameraman so they tie the camera to a dog and let it roam around. Mr. Poundland was at this event and said that some people shop at Poundland because they want to, whereas others shop there because they need to. Wise words. I, myself, straddle both constituencies. I want to shop at Poundland because I may find a book about a poet who is not Ezra Pound, whereas I need to shop at Poundland in order to get my lighters. Which I didn’t on this occasion because all they seemed to have behind the counter in the Hanley big shop were the four in a packet electronic kind which are a bit rubbish and when I asked the checkout lady if she had any of the six in a packet mechanical kind with the little wheel, she evinced ignorance and pointed at the electronic ones, at which point I could have made an extravagant gesture of resignation and thrown my arms in the air and said, “all right then I will take a packet of those please”, but I didn’t want to in case the camera dog was watching at that point and I ended up in a new instalment of Dispatches.
Monday, 31st December - Worthing
Riding The Bullet DVD.
Dimiter by William Peter Blatty.
2 packs of 6 disposable lighters.
2 rolls of clear parcel tape.
1 pack of 8 Sony AA batteries.
2 cartons of semi-skimmed milk (buy one, get one free) - not shown.
A packet of stickers for a kindle. Since Santa had given me a kindle for Christmas I had a look at this accessory, but rejected it on the grounds that the kindle looks nice as it is and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to put a load of stickers on it unless they were a small child, in which case they shouldn’t be given a kindle anyway because it is a present for grown-ups.
1. First, the milk. No, first, the rubbish bags they’re now using in Worthing Poundland. They’re rubbish, nowt read on ‘em. Next, the milk. We (the good lady wife and I) bought some milk to replenish the stock in No. 1 son’s house since we’d drunk it all (in tea, not on its own since I haven’t done that since you had to in school and in winter they’d leave the little bottles by the radiator to thaw out and there’s nothing worse than slightly warm milk, but at least on Fridays you got a little bottle of orange juice, so that was nice.)
2. Not a big fan of Stephen King, but some stuff’s ok (Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone, Stand By Me, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) and some’s not (The Shining, all them where there’s a writer being annoyed by summat), so I thought I’d give Riding The Bullet a go. On the front cover Tobe Hooper declares it to be “scary, haunting...the best Stephen King movie ever.” Which I reckon is hyperbole. Underneath that it says: ‘The Dead Travel Fast’. Which I can attest to, since I went to a funeral just before Christmas (which was festive) and after the performance we went to the cemetery and by the time we’d got there the ancient, distant relative was already in the ground, all done and dusted. So, it’s true, the dead do travel fast. On the back Stephen King reckons it’s “the best of the independent films made from my work since ‘Stand By Me’... See it, you’ll be glad you did.” So, I’m looking forward to being glad.
3. I could have got a lot of books, but settled for the William Peter Blatty one. There was C by Tom McCarthy, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize but looked a bit arty. And there was a Mark Gattis novel, can’t remember the title, but it was one of his Lucifer Box ones. I’m a bit ambivalent towards Mr. Gatiss - can’t stand The League of Gentlemen and his association with Dr. Who is disturbing, but I do like Sherlock and some of his horror projects, including a recent documentary on BBC4 about European horror films. But the book looked a bit daft, so I put it back and went for the Blatty instead. Despite now having a kindle I will continue to buy books from Poundland in order to keep lumberjacks in work. Also, one is often pleasantly surprised by random purchases, such as The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin, which I bought earlier this year and am currently reading with much enjoyment.
4. I should add a note here about the other things I have bought from Poundland over the Christmas period. Lighters, of course, but also several presents for friends and family that could not be listed, so I decided not to record my visits. Two dvds I bought for myself were The Sum of All Fears (which turned out to be better than I remembered) and The Siege (which is one of those oddly prescient films, like Starship Troopers). I must also mention a toy I bought (2 in fact) from Stafford Poundland and which was not available in either Hanley or Worthing. I should have bought one for myself, but instead I gave them both away and neglected to take a picture or note their name, so a description will have to suffice. It was rather difficult to tell what it was. A plastic ball, and some collectable discs, and a magnet was mentioned. This is why I feel obliged to mention it, since I have now added a seventh rule to the Rules of Poundland. Anyway, it turned out they were yoyos with a magnet for picking up the collectable discs, and it made for several minutes of Christmas fun, I can tell you.