3/04/2012

Couch Potato’s London Staycation Diary: A Morning of Movies, Magic, Murder and Madness

Amelie, Audrey Tautou
“Excuse me?”
The sales assistant raised an eyebrow.
“Could we look at the small A-Z please.”
The clerk blinked acknowledgement of the request and continued to arrange packets of cigarettes on the shelf behind her. A long ten seconds followed before she turned to the small row of London A-Zs to her left of the counter.
“The small one please.”
She lifted the smallest book, then placed it back against the wall and lifted a larger one.
“Actually, could we look at both sizes please.”
The sales clerk rolled her eyes at this point before tossing both books onto the counter, shaking her head knowingly at her nearby colleague.
This is the opening scene to…  Couch Potato’s Staycation: the Movie.
OK, OK, I’m being ridiculous. I know that’s not going to happen anytime soon, or ever, but that scene did happen and it was the beginning of the three-day staycation that my partner (to be known as Sofa Spud from now on) and I enjoyed in London last week.
Funnily enough we didn’t purchase any of the A-Zs from that rude sales clerk. The incident occurred at a newsagent within London Bridge station and we subsequently came to the conclusion that said sales clerk assumed we were gullible tourists unlikely ever to return, so what did it matter if her pre-recession-style customer service turned us away? “Ha,” I spat with madness and rage, as we made our way out. “How shocked will she be to learn that I commute into London Bridge station every day? Maybe I’ll go into that shop every morning and ask for something from behind that counter and each time I’ll change my mind at the last minute.”
“Or you could rearrange things when her back is turned, like in Amelie,” suggested Sofa Spud.
Audrey Tautou
And that made me smile. Remember those fantastic scenes in that wonderful Paris-set movie where Amelie plays a series of mischievous jokes on the greengrocer who bullies his worker? The idea of repeating something like that in order to get revenge on that lazy disrespectful London Bridge sales assistant filled me with glee, then amusement, and then the anger wore off. That’s the power of film – to imitate life, but also make you see situations differently. I’m so glad that Sofa Spud chose the life-affirming Amelie as a movie reference rather than say, the 1993 Michael Douglas all stressed out, highly strung, mental breakdown over a few minor mishaps movie Falling Down. I say that not just because Douglas’s William Foster is a negative role model and we were in a positive holiday mood, but because we were venting our rage over this incident as we crossed the bridge that inspired that movie’s title.

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