Overheard in Sainsbury’s


I first saw him standing by the reduced chilled items fridge. Large scruffy man wearing a black cowboy hat. He looked interesting, and I was surprised as I got closer to look over his shoulder at the stuff that had reached its sell-by date that he didn't smell of piss. He looked the sort that normally does.

He pushed his trolley off down the chilled foods aisle, two freezers facing each other that in summer in short sleeves is just ridiculously cold, but in winter in big coat and scarf is okay. I stayed a while constructing a meal in my head from reduced quiche, reduced Waldorf salad, and reduced coleslaw.

A brisk walk down the chilled aisle, turn the corner, and there was the fat scruffy man in the cowboy hat, having a chat with an elderly gentleman in a flat cap. And I must admit as I passed I kinda wished I was in on this conversation. The large cowboy-hatted man was shouting at the top of his voice:

'Blind Pugh was blind in the service of the king!'

I nearly cracked up, that was the best bit of random dialogue heard passing by I'd heard in a long time and I turned quickly into the next aisle and got my notebook out standing by the coffee and tea and wrote it down. Then I doubled back around the next aisle and retraced my steps going by them in the other direction, I wanted to hear more of this conversation, after all that's why I carry a notebook. By this time an orange-jacketed elderly Sainsbury's shelf-stacker was in on the conversation as well. The fat cowboy was still dominating the proceedings:

'There's two ways to live…' he said, and I hung around by the Christmas stilton and port gift packages to make sure I got this bit of homely advice, '… you can live a quiet life, or you can be a hellraiser. I prefer to be a hellraiser.'

I nodded my head to myself and walked up by the dried pasta shapes and bottles of pesto. As I walked away I heard him qualifying this statement:

'I'd rather live like Edward the Seventh than Edward the Confessor.'

I thought Jesus, it ain't often you come across a geezer up on his history like that, not in this day and age. As for Blind Bloody Pugh, crikey. Sainsbury's is definitely a cut above Asda in this respect.

I did another detour through the chilled food aisle, saying to myself this'll be my last pass. They were still there. This time I noticed that the cowboy had a false hand, a plastic hand sticking out of the end of his coat sleeve. And as I passed I took in my last bit of his conversation:

'Long John, they never found a trace of his body…'