All 3 entries tagged Streatham

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August 20, 2007

The floor is wet

I’m out of work these days. The internship at Quintus was excellent, but I was hankering for something more financially rewarding, so quit three weeks ago and now have a new internship lined up. Arguably the worst thing about unemployment is that you lose track of days. It happened yesterday.

I’d run out of milk. As I cannot physically leave the house of a morning without having drunk tea, I needed to replenish my fridge so at about 7 I stepped out into the miserable August evening and headed off to Sainsbury’s, planning to use this opportunity to purchase some more obscure items. It was only when I was halfway up the street that I remembered it was Sunday – said supermarket would be closed at this late hour. So I decided I would buy my semi-skimmed at the Costcutters on the way.

The lights were on and the door was ajar, so I entered and set about locating the dairy products. A teenage girl was mopping the floor. Clearly they were winding up the day’s business – I was just in time. The girl said, “the floor is wet”. The floor was merely damp, but glad of her concern for my traction, I said, “okay”, and continued searching in vain for the milk.

“Excuse me,” she said. I turned. She was staring at me with disgust, as if I’d been the one at her cousin’s wedding who got a little too drunk and exposed himself and propositioned her mother and should have understood that he was no longer welcome in her shop.

“Sorry, are you closed?” I asked. Girl said nothing and continued to stare with inexplicable fury. There was another girl, behind the counter. I turned to her for an answer – all I got was a dead-eyed disdain and silence.

Girl 1 suddenly raised her voice, “please leave!” I detected a foreign accent which may have explained the – how can I put this? – lack of British-style customer service, but the command nonetheless rendered me lost for words for a moment or two. She continued, “the floor is wet”, as if it were common knowledge that a floor’s dampness is indicative of a customer’s right to be in a shop. I wasn’t going anywhere without some kind of closure, so I rephrased my question: “so you’re not open?”

“No.” I left, bemused. The girl sounded east European so I can only assume that they were expecting a visitor from the KGB and “the floor is wet” was their codeword. When I didn’t reply with “here, use my towel”, they knew that I didn’t have the secret microfiche containing the embassy blueprints and urgently ushered me out in their unorthodox style.

I did manage to get some milk in the end.


July 28, 2007

Spotted: Health Secretary in South London supermarket

So there I am in Streatham Common Sainsbury’s: I’ve just finished piling my groceries on the conveyor belt and I notice a middle-aged couple one till down gazing with interest in my general direction. What are they so thrilled about, I think. The customer in front of me, a silver-haired gent to whom I’d hitherto paid scant attention, pays up and makes his way to the exit. Well fuck me if it isn’t the Right Honourable Alan Johnson MP!

I’m pretty damn sure it was him, though when I sought confirmation from the checkout girl she just nodded and smiled politely. I can only apologise to my readership for not realising sooner and engaging the Secretary of State for Health in some friendly and no doubt insightful political banter. I could even have helped pack his bags then casually asked for an internship. I just wasn’t on the ball. That’s the last time I go drinking the night before a major food shop.

I failed also to make, for the purposes of analysis, a mental note of the member for Hull West and Hessle’s shopping, except for one item: the oxymoronic Reduced Fat All-Butter Croissants. Semantics aside, it’s good to see he’s leading the country’s War on Obesity by example.

Sainsy B’s former chairman Lord Sainsbury was, of course, science minister until last year. I wonder if the shopping preferences of the rest of the Cabinet show similar loyalty.



I saw one of the above men today


April 23, 2007

Settling in

Follow-up to London Called from Esprit de l'escalier

A week on and the next three months of my life have taken shape.

Assuming I wouldn’t be earning a lot, I went for the cheapest room I saw – in a four-person flat in Streatham (I recommend Gumtree). I had to venture far out of the centre to find such a low rent though – it’s literally on the edge of my Mini A-Z. My street looks salubrious enough but it turns out someone got shot at the local ice rink recently. Blades… didn’t inspire me to patronise the establishment, so I should be okay.

But then, my arrival was filled with what can only be described as foreboding. I emerged from Streatham Common Station, fixin’ to move in, to find a Securicor van cordoned off by police tape and policemen milling around. A little while later, two coppers turned up at the flat. “Is there something you haven’t told us?” joked my new flatmate Chris. They asked if we’d witnessed anything in the area. We hadn’t. Chris asked, “Is it serious?” “It could be”, was the enigmatic reply.

A quick Google News search for “streatham” tells me that someone was stabbed last week as well. Great.

On the career front, I was offered an internship at a public affairs firm but had a job interview for Southwark Council last Wednesday before I could accept it. I wasn’t too optimistic about getting the job, especially after a certain question about Equal Opportunities. They told me and I told Quintus, the internship people, I’d hear at some point on Thursday. So I spent most of Thursday waiting by the phone. No word. I spent most of Friday doing the same and tried the number Southwark gave me to call. I finally got through to one of the interviewers who assured me they hadn’t forgotten about me and I’d get a call that afternoon. I didn’t – I was in total limbo. What I did get, on Saturday, was a call from my dad to say that a letter’d come to say I hadn’t got the job. I emailed Quintus and they called this morning; I start tomorrow.

If I want feedback on the interview I’m supposed to request it in writing. Can I be bothered? I’d guess I was deemed too professional for them.


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