When we got to London, we moved into our fully-furnished and equipped flat with our clothes and our bedding. And some music. I was always told to be of good chair, so it wasn’t long before we had to go and purchase an additional piece of furniture.
We walked down to a local second-hand furniture shop to browse through their seating equipment. The
bored helpful owner of the shop came over to greet us and shoot the breeze over his cup of coffee. He was a right proper Londoner, wearing a flat cap and everything.
We told him we were looking for a desk chair. He showed us his wares. And then he showed us his chairs. Kidding.
We tried out his wheely chairs and raced around the shop in them going “Woo!” and “Beep beep!” and “Check how this one turns!”
He strolled over to us, kicking his legs like in a slow-motion goose-step, and said, tentatively, and with his head cocked to one side, “Is that an Australian accent I hear?”
We said, “Not unless there are Australians hiding behind the sofa.”
Not really. We said that we were South Africans and feigned offence. Well, maybe we didn’t feign offence, but we pretended we were feigning it. He laughed nervously, “Ha ha, jolly ha!”
He took another sip of his coffee and asked if we were new to the area. We told him we’d just moved in. He asked us what brought us to the area. We said we were new to London because my husband was doing his doctorate.
The guy stared at us blankly, like the letting agent had when we told her my husband was doing his doctorate. She said, “Can you write that down for me, please? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
We were about to tell him question time was over, when his gaze turned to me and he said, “And what about you? Are you a lady of leisure?”
My husband had to hold me back from grabbing him by the scruff of the neck. (Not really. But please note, for health and safety purposes, that the exaggeration alert is still active.)
I smiled sweetly and said to him, “Actually, I’m job hunting.”
He said, “Pleased to meet you, my name’s Bob.”
What he actually did at that point was whistle, raise his eyebrows and make his eyes all slitty. Clearly a multi-tasker.
“Ooh, job hunting. Not easy these days, is it? Not like in them days when it was just us. Not with all these foreigners about.”
He proceeded to tell us how little he thought of the (then) Labour government and its lax immigration regulations and how foreigners were coming in thick and fast and taking all the jobs from people “like us”.
We nodded, paid for our chair and tiptoed backwards out of the shop trying not to say another word and leak out our foreign accents again. Just in case.
We carried the chair down the road and all the way back to our house. We stopped briefly for my husband to go into a convenience store to buy something, and I sat on the chair on the pavement. If I spun quickly I could keep an eye on the road and on the shop at the same time.
As we crossed the threshold into our flat, we greeted the rest of the furniture with, “Three chairs for the foreigners!”
Sunshine signing off for today!