Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Every once in a while, much more often than you'd think, people come into the shop, walk quickly round, barely looking at anything, then leave. What are they doing? Is this some sort of global game? Is it the British version of that American sport, Mall Walking? Are they reassuring themselves that a fossil shop sells fossils? It genuinely troubles me. Browsing is ill-served by a brisk jog.

What's going through their heads?

Right. I'm in. Keep walking. Don't look at the man. What's that on the wall - some sort of stone fish? Weird. What am I doing here? Keep walking. Don't look at the man. Where am I? What am I going to have for tea? I hope it's carrots. Or at least has carrots in it. I really like carrots. That's a nice purple stone. Keep walking. Out the door. That's it.

When people come in, then stride purposefully to the counter, they are either coming to ask what happened to the kite shop, or where no.2 Cowgatehead is, or they have something very specific in mind. Once, a guy came in and came straight for me without looking around him at all.

'Hi - I wondered if you could help me. It's really a bit of a long shot, but I wanted to get a dinosaur tooth for my son. I know they're rare and everything, and probably very expensive if you have any at all, but he really wants one. I don't suppose you have one - I can't spend very much - maybe under a tenner. Maybe £5?'

'Actually, I do. Just here at the front of the counter, look. They are Spinosaurus teeth, from Taouz in Morocco. They are pretty decent teeth and exactly £5. There are a few here to choose from.'

Has a fairly cursory look at a couple of them. Long pause.

'Nah - I'll leave it. Thanks anyway.'
He turns and heads out the door.

'Goodbye', I said.

1 comment:

Christopher Walker said...

Either he was intimidated by the remnants of the largest ever carnivorous dinosaur or he was worried he'd spend his days deliberating over the purpose of the weird vertebrae that was once part of this toothy beast...a la mode or aerodynamics?
(need to link to FB)