Wednesday, 30 September 2009

So, Recently...

It’s only the second night since Nick arrived, completing our south London triumvirate, and we’re already flagging. Rather than going out to a secret, subterranean club full of coked-up fashion designers and moviemakers, where we might pick up half-crazed androgynes for combative, drug-fuelled sex romps, we decide to stay home and watch a movie. One I’ve already seen, actually.

We figure that this course of action requires alcoholic enhancement, and launch an expedition to the local Threshers. As we enter, a woman’s trying to pay with a fake Scottish note, which the middle-aged guy behind the counter cheerfully exposes using the shop’s black light. This revelation provides him with the opportunity to launch into a lengthy monologue on suspicious foreign currencies, eliciting occasional grunts of acknowledgement from the woman. By the time she manages to reach the door he’s talking about the treacherousness of Irish pounds, at which point she cuts him off mid-sentence with an emphatic “Thanks, bye!” and exits. He echoes her farewell without missing a beat.

A few moments pass while the three of us choose some cheap beers, but when we approach the counter he just picks up the “conversation” where he left off, as though, in his mind, all customers represent a continuous organism.

“It’s a good bit of kit, this,” he says, gesturing to the black light. “Shows up fake notes…and fake IDs.” He smiles maniacally. “Speaking of which, I’m going to have to ask you guys to show me some.”

“Sure,” I say, trying to seem as amiable as possible. I can well imagine this guy affecting the same sunny demeanour while popping my testicles with his bare hands. I pass over my driving licence and he scrutinises it briefly.

“Thanks!” he says, handing it back.

The card machine seems to take an age, and he keeps talking throughout. “We’re really clamping down these days. Going the American route: no ID, no service. It’s even stricter in Scotland.”

Nick chips in, for which I’m grateful. “There’s a place in Glasgow where they won’t even accept driving licences, only passports.”

“Really?” I say.

“Oh yeah,” replies the guy behind the counter, as though he knows all about this already.

Before we leave, the guy calls us back. “Give me your licence again.” I hand it over and he slides it under the black light, exposing the previously invisible watermark. “Look at that,” he says. He seems tremendously pleased.

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