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Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:19 am

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This is my town. Stapleford; the suburb of the suburbs at the height of its petty existence. If you were to look at it on a map you would assume that it was a refuge tip or some sort of convenience for the two cities either side of it or the three major roads that form the triangle surrounding it. If you were told that there was in fact a town there, you would jump to the conclusion that, as it is so easily connected with the rest of the country it would be the dominant town in Nottinghamshire. You would be wrong. Stapleford exists only as a map reference for people who are asking how to get from Nottingham to Derby or vice versa. The inhabitants either work in small, scummy shops that serve the rest of, what can almost be called, the community, or cram the buses in the morning to get to the nearest job centre in dear hope of an opening at the new Pizza Hut.

It was two in the morning as I walked into the Tesco Express lost in depressive thoughts of the place Id rather not call home. The spotlights perched precariously on the roof like badly parked cars told the night sky that Tesco Express was now open 24/7. Fantastic.

Nobody used the electronically sliding doors anymore as the hole where the front window used to be was much more convenient. I stepped through knowing deep down that it was highly unlikely that I was going to find the basic goods my body was craving for after a long night out in Nottingham with friends.

As I picked up one of the antiquities formerly known as a basket, I noticed a man staring at me through quivering pupils. He looked about twenty something and wore a tracksuit with the word McKenzie printed all over it. McKenzie, it seemed, had made such an impression on this man that he had it tattooed on his veiny forearms in Times New Roman. In his left hand he held a half empty bottle of cheap cider, in his right a length of dirty thread that had obviously been tied around his arm at some point to allow the needle lying at his feet to pierce his arm. Just as a gorilla slouches against a tree in the jungle playing with something it has discovered on the jungle floor, he sat against a newspaper stand and fiddled with his imitation IPod and murmured the words to something sung by a man whose name was undoubtedly Slim Shady.

The isles were a static, sober version of the low-life in the doorway; minus McKenzie. Most of the products on the shelves were either in rusted tins or out of date, or both. The frozen section was like an oven, possibly due to the fact that the cashier must be emitting at least half of the methane emissions of the UK causing a miniature global warming effect inside the small convenience store or more likely due to the fact that they couldnt afford the price of an air conditioning unit. A mouse scuttled across a packet of chicken nuggets dragging a piece of mechanically recovered burger behind it. It was probably taking it to its family who thought they were living in Spain when in fact they were nestled comfortably in the Italian section of one of the freezers. On the floor next to the broken door of a retired refrigerator was a substance that could have been anything ranging from sour milk to an extremely large, wet piece of Wrigleys Extra chewing gum.

I finally managed to discover the Lost Arc of bread, behind the can of spaghetti Temple of Doom, and found a nice loaf of Hovis that had not yet developed the fashionable green hairstyle that all of its peers had spent so much time growing. I put it in my basket and proceeded in hope of finding a can of Coke in the next aisle that didnt look like someone had played football with it, or already taken a sip and left a little surprise bubbling on the top for the next unfortunate shop lifter. Luckily it looked like they had just had their yearly stock refill, which fortunately had not yet been used as an alternative to sports equipment. I grabbed one out of what was left of the fridge and walked to the next aisle with my Coke and Hovis safely in my basket.

The shopping list on my hand informed me that I needed butter and milk to accompany the Hovis and Coke in my basket, but as I glanced down the dairy aisle I decided against it. The stench coming off the out of date milk was so bad that it was creating more of a haze on the collapsing ceiling than the methane being released by the cashier. The long, ancient refrigerators themselves no longer contained milk or butter, but had been converted into swimming pools filled with a liquid resembling yellow cottage cheese that was quite obviously comprised of last years butter and milk so old it was almost fossilised. The whole scenario reminded me of how pilgrims that go to Lourdes bottle up the water from the spring and take it home with them, the only difference here being that the water is far from holy and had such a high viscosity that you would struggle to pull the bottle through the mixture. Unsurprisingly I decided to skip the milk and butter and try my luck with the cashier.

The route to the tills was definitely not as direct as it should have been. Due to the amount of indistinguishable substances on the isle floors I had to walk past three aisles before I was able to cross to the other side of the shop, and even when I got there I was forced to dodge numerous undesirable items, one of which was a dollop of excretion I was certain could only have been produced by something the size of a horse (how it got there I do not know, but from the look of it I was able to deduce that it had been originally produced outside the shop and using my local knowledge I was able to work out that it had probably been moved there by bored teenagers). When I had completed my marathon around the shop and reached the single manned till (It would be appropriate at this point for you to imagine that the till was manned by just one person and also that the man manning it was also probably single), I unloaded the 2 items of my basket onto the conveyor belt, carefully placing them around various stains on it, and moved to the other end of the till. The cashier was large to say the least. His T-shirts must have been bought from a specialist dealing with clothes for people so fat they should be dead already. I found myself wondering how he managed to waddle to work every morning seeing as he had to carry the weight of an elephant around with him and thats not including his lunch box with must be at least equal in size due to his obviously large appetite.

As I walked past him and gave a chirpy Hello! he almost jumped through the roof. He was obviously so used to people not bothering to pay for the stuff in the shop that hed given up caring and instead decided to waste away his numbered days day dreaming in a desk chair made especially for those with a large body frame at IKEA. He managed to produce a smile and began trying to work out how to use the barcode scanner. When hed managed to find the barcode beneath the grime on the packaging of the Hovis and put in enough effort to feebly squeeze the trigger on the barcode scanner he threw it down to me and I placed it in a carrier bag that looked like it had played a starring role in Psycho but was unlucky enough to be one of the victims. The only difference between the bag and a film star was that the film star probably had less holes and more plastic. The Coke I decided to hang on to for fear of my bag ripping if I put anymore weight in it. I handed the cashier a five pound note and to my surprise he grunted Do you want any cash back? Startled by the attempt at communication I shook my head and muttered No thanks mate and walked back towards the front window. During this last piece of feeble conversation I had discovered through the filthy plastic cover on his badge, that the cashiers name was Dave, however I the badge was obviously not wholly truthful as it also said Happy to help! on it, and Dave was evidently on the contrary.

After stepping back out onto the pavement I checked my watch and was shocked to discover that I had been in Tescos for over 45 minutes. During those 45 minutes it appeared that there had been a few vandals hanging about as across the street there was a gorgeous 1988 Vauxhall Vectra burning with about as much majesty as a marshmallow over a campfire. The owner, like many of the local inhabitants, had decided it best just to pretend the whole thing wasnt happening. Its not really that surprising when you consider that this sort of thing is more common than free newspapers round here.

It was just a short walk back to my house on Hickings Lane but I still had to remain on high guard, especially at this time in the morning.

As I began to feel safer walking down West Avenue, a couple of minutes walk away from home, I heard someone walking out of the entrance to the park just behind me. Instinctively I crossed the road and walked a little slower so as to allow him to pass in front of me on the other side of the road without causing any trouble. As he came into my line of sight it was clear that hed been drinking by the way he danced around the pavement from side to side as though he was performing the Bolero. He wore a tight fit, fake leather jacket that was unzipped to reveal a dirty, oily white t-shirt underneath and a gold chain round his neck. I also noticed a tattoo running down the back of his neck that appeared to be an English rose. What worried me was not the way he walked or even the number of teeth he was missing, but the wide, flat object visible through the back pocket of his jeans. It was quite common for people round here to carry items theyd prefer to call protection, and thats worrying enough, but this guy wasnt just your average stupid, tough guy he also had lost complete cooperation between his brain and his testosterone levels: a bad combination. Even though he was drunk beyond belief he still managed to swing is arms forward and backwards in the manner of a monkey and pushed out his chest like a pumped up lion as though he was seeking someone to beat up to show how manly he was. The good news in all of this was that he hadnt noticed me walking on the pavement opposite him. He seemed to just stagger along lost in his world of pumped up bikers and their harem of women.

Finally we reached the end of the road and he stumbled off towards the left and I crossed the road and walked up the driveway to the front door.

The next morning wasnt a pretty sight. I woke up at 11oclock still exhausted from my night out and extended shopping trip around Tesco. What made it worse was that when I came to put the bread in the toaster I discovered that it wasnt as fresh as I had first perceived. It turns out that this particular loaf of bread came with a free gift; a lava of fly eggs, half of which had already grown into maggots. Yum. Worse still was the weather. A lovely black thunderstorm had decided to unleash its wrath above us. What a great start to the day.

I finished my breakfast and walked back towards the lounge for a bit of catch up TV, when I saw a figure approaching the door. Usually this would worry me but it was 11oclock on a Saturday morning so Stapleford will be a ghost town. It was obviously just the postman. I walked to the door and opened it to find a tall, weedy gentleman being drowned by his navy blue Royal Mail uniform.



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