Feel Good Inc.

“This morning is amazing and so are you
This morning is amazing and so are you
This morning is amazing and so are you
You are languid and lovely and lazy
And what doesn’t kill you just makes you crazier”

  • Nick Cave, Warren Ellis

 “Do you want anything in the shop ?”

In most , if not all work/study environments , at some point during the day, usually leading up to elevenses or lunch , someone will be going to a nearby shop/garage/deli to get something they need for themselves and , if they have a heart at all, will offer to pick up something for any of their colleagues.

My first experience of this was as a school student in St.Macartan’s College where we had a ‘tuck shop’. Shop was quite a generous description. The priest that ran the tuck shop, Fr.McCague, generous, trusting, and charitable as you’d expect from a man of the cloth, wasn’t prepared to have light fingered students anywhere near his merchandise, so the ‘shop’ operated out of an open window into the yard where students formed a scrum and roared their orders during the three 15 minute  intervals it opened , 11 0’clock, and 1 o’clock where it was mostly day boys that spent all of their money, and the goldrush at 7-ish, after the boarders had had their dinner and knew they needed recognisable food before the next day.

I was not a frequent customer until 4th year when Fr.McCague collared me into working in the tuck shop. Another member of ‘staff’ introduced me to the notion of a ‘tab’. We could simply take stuff, as trusted staff and settle up whenever it suited. This was a revelation to me, and my introduction to ‘credit’. I lived on a diet of Black Jacks, Fruit Salads, Sherbert Fountains, and Caffrey’s Snowballs.

I lived like a KING !

I got spots.

And before the Hallowe’en break I tried to work out what I owed. I knew I had £15 at home, so , worked out that I owed the tuck shop £15. Capitalism works !

Later I worked in Mullan Mills when it was still a boot factory. Angela ran the wee post office and had a captive audience of 60 or so people who worked in the village , and the next nearest shop was 5k away. Angela would run a tab for you, but unlike the tab in Fr.McCague’s tuck shop , Angela actually wrote down what you’d got.

My biggest ever shock was the summer our Stephen got a summer job working with me and offered every day to go to the shop for me, sometimes two or three times a day. He’d go get me Coke, a Choc-Ice , and I’d generously say, and get yourself something. Which he did.

He went back to school and the following week I went to the shop to get something for myself and Angela sheepishly asked if I wouldn’t mind settling up the tab as it was getting a bit big.

“No problem” I said, opening my wallet and taking out the purple Jonathan Swift ( £10 ).

She took the £10 and went to my tab in her book, crossed out a number and wrote a new one and looked up at me, biting the end of her Bic, “That leaves £38.75”

We nearly fell out with each other, until she explained that Stephen would wolf a coke and a choc ice into him in the shop before taking another two of each back to work for me and himself.

“One day he drank two cokes here in the shop chatting to me before he went back with yours.”

I was earning a staggering £28 a week at the time, so Angela allowed me to pay off the bill at £5 a week.

Another lesson in capitalism learned. Set out the parameters !

In some places evil bosses have tried to stamp out these Samaritan dashes for charity by installing ‘vending machines’. In our place we have fallen foul of a ‘Childline Charity Box’. This is a business that places a box of chocolate bars, crisps and cans of Coke, in your office and ask for €2 to be placed in the box for any item consumed. Our box needs constant replenishment, and at one point the ‘replenisher’ thought we must have a workforce of 50, rather than the 13 we do have.

Recently the ‘replenisher’ was shocked to discover that the box needed nothing added. He asked what was wrong ? Did we want the selection changed ? Was there another ‘charity box’? His kids needed new shoes, he had a holiday booked.

We told him that it was just that Gary was on paternity leave, and our John had The Lurgy.

What brought this to mind this week was finding myself on a ward and finding myself in the post op , non-fasting phase, just missed the dinner, and heading into another fasting phase. I had money and there was a decent shop on the ground floor. I asked if I could go down and get something, but was told no, although I was not getting a transplant ,I was on a transplant ward so all movement was restricted.

I must have looked crestfallen, because a student nurse , a wonderful angel called Denise, offered to go to the shops for me. I said I didn’t want to put her to any trouble, but she insisted that she was going for herself anyway.

“Could you get me a Marathon ?”

“What’s a Marathon ?”

Up until that point I’d felt very good about myself, I’m apparently on the young end of the scale for what afflicts me,  and as I had previously looked around at my fellow inmates wearing their British Comedy sitcom 1970s pyjamas, whilst I was wearing my Fat Face flannel bottoms with my Pillow Queens tee.

“Marathon ? It’s like a Mars bar , but with nuts.”

“You mean a Snickers ?”

“Oh Yeah…a Snickers please.” I said , mortified.

When she left I looked up when Marathon’s were changed to Snickers….1990 !

She brought me back my ‘Snickers’…I devoured it. It was nearly as nice as a Marathon.

Thanks to everyone who sent song suggestions for my Happiness -Take #56 playlist. It now has 62 songs, 4 hours and 14 minutes of magic. And I think of each of you when your song selections come up.

“Dark horse,” I think “ kindred spirit…..class….”



P.S. Obviously the songs I originally added are stull the coolest, let’s not lose the run of ourselves, and any morning I feel…unlike myself…I put this one on .

Author: paul

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