Let’s meet our next two contestants!
At the till we have Kate! She is with us all the way from Ellesmere Port! Isn’t she beautiful? That combination of golden hair and cold crystal eyes! Ah, if only Joyce were here! Lean out of the window indeeeed! And when she’s not singing a merry air she’s working here at Blockbuster Video! Great to have her on board!
And who do we have here? Well, its our very own Graham, keeping an eye on things in the storeroom – don’t sit too close to the CCTV Graham, you’ll get square eyes! Graham tells us that when he has some spare time his hobbies include metal-detecting, UFOs and the internet! Well come on down, and lets get started!
“That’s overdue,” said Kate of the copy of Twin Town that was snuck into the bottom of the pile of returns from this walking tower of Galaxy Minstrels and Diet Coke “One pound fine.”
“Wha! Ah divvent know! No, its not! Ah… Come on, I… No, its not!” Kate could do without this fucking moron attempting to “play dumb.” Hardly a difficult role. Perhaps she is from the Method school… Really, she is waiting on the post – the damn door keeps opening a bit in the wind and every time she hears the gentle brush of the fuzz around the door that keeps the draught out she looks up. And its either no-one, or like this one here, nobody.
“Look, you can pay next time. Thanks! Bye!” This one takes a while before the hint penetrates, and orders legs into action and perambulates her out the door. Was that a uniform flashing by outside? Where is that damn postman? Kate had been working late here a few weeks back, Graham had convinced her:
“It’s a hard time for video hire at the moment. Once all this Piracy Bay and Bit Horrent are closed, we’ll be back, packed out, music blaring and queueing out the door like the old days! Remember when this came out?” he asked, grabbing a copy of ‘Twin Town’ “Everyone wanted it. “The new ‘Trainspotting.'” Was it bollocks. But that didn’t stop them. 45 copies, a whole shelf, people requesting it, coming in on their lunch break, asking if I have any ‘under the counter.’ Why? Why would I have some under the counter? So I don’t rent ’em? Yeah right, give me a break! Anyway, we can use this little quiet period to restock, sort out what we don’t need, check the stock and sell any old things on. You in? I need some help.”
And, ladies and gentlemen at home, some help is exactly what he needs! There were a lot of videos on high shelves she had to fetch, lots of labels in low drawers and lots of ‘menial labour’ if you know what I mean! But let’s get to know her now – Kate!
“Hi, I’m Kate, I’m 17 years old and my hobbies include horse-riding, reading and music. I love going out with my friends and I am looking forward to going to University next year. I like long walks on the beach, my family and holidays. I hate TV and buses.”
Well, thank you for that Kate! Walks are top fun, as we slouch towards Ellesmere to be born! Take a look at this:
Kate is climbing the small stepladder, one tiny foot on the first step, the other foot comes to join it. The left hops away as the right arrives, and so on until she is at step number four. The top step. She reaches higher to see what is in the box on top, her calves tighten, her arm arcs out, her body shifts under the black polyester mix of the Blockbuster official uniform. Graham can hear the sound of her breasts, her bra, her innmost light brushing against the T-shirt – god damn jesus fuck I can hear her heart beat! I can smell her scent! She is absolute light and warmth, lying in tall grass on hillsides in summer, the quarry down below, a butterfly comes to land, flexes its colours and leaves, leaves a retinal trace that drifts across the blue blue sky, only a thought of perhaps ice cream later, the rest stretches into infinity as this moment returns, and he knows it can be accessed again. Right now.
Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck they both think.
Ladies and gents – the moment of truth! Come on! Roll up!
“Kate, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”
Audience at home – he’s missed his chance! Awwwwww!
“Well…” she trembles at the top of the ladder and her hand withdraws from the box, and is clasped in her other hand, pale wrists, cold. “I think I will be working in London, or maybe Manchester, in media, like TV, or radio, but maybe online or in the cinema, I guess this is good experience for that…”
What do you think, people at home? Is this good experience? Can she make it? Be – excited! Be – Be – excited! On our show later we shall have to enter the heart of the wood and remove our masks! Do not think that you can slip away, viewers! Do not think that life will allow itself to be mocked!
“Do you really want to go away? You’ve got a good job, you’re a good worker, I saw some nice new houses for sale by the canal, I mean you could be Assistant Manager by then, maybe open a new branch! Anything is possible! You just have to want it enough. You know, Kate, can I show you something? Look at these screens – you can see everything from here. I watch the customers decide on what they want, how long it takes, examine their faces – sometimes they look right into the lens and into my eyes. Except it doesn’t feel right. Maybe its the black and white. Real life is colour. Maybe its something else, like I’m not looking back into their eyes so it doesn’t really work… Kate…”
A round of applause, please, studio audience! Well done Graham! Well done Kate! A glorious love fulfilled at last! Born of despair on a tinsel wing!
So Kate sits and she watches. The door, the TV, the shit film and never-ending ad loop for popcorn and Coke and huge bags of sweets. She has spilled an out-of-date pack of Revels across the shelf below the counter and is popping them into her mouth, idly making an attempt to guess their flavour, hardly tasting the difference, even though she hates the coffee ones. She still likes them overall though – you’ve gotta take the rough with the smooth.
The postman walks past the rain-tricked glass front, pushes the door and steps swiftly over to the counter, nods at Kate Absorbed In Thought and drops the stack of letters on the counter. The splay out and the red rubber band pings off. It touches her hand, and then she notices. The brown envelope. Ellsemere Health Centre postmark.
Drum roll please… and… it says… yes… by the look on her face… Ladies and Gentlemen – we have a winner! So, Kate from Ellsemere, come on down and receive your prize!
Give the kid some Revels – wait for your shift – bang the TV on – and let the decades roll by!