Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Shoe Event Horizon

I’m still working in a vague sort of way on the write up of my summer travels but I got a bit disheartened when I wrote about 1500 words and hadn’t even got to the part where I landed in the US. I’ll manage to write it eventually but it might have to wait until I have other work to do that I wish to avoid.

Today I was thinking about how strange the commercial development of towns can be. How some places become saturated with a certain kinds of shops and yet lack completely in others. The best example I can think of at the moment is Woodbridge in Suffolk; a town with a wildly disproportionate number of secondhand bookshops and tearooms run by little old ladies. It is much easier to notice a surfeit of a certain shop in a town than it is to discern the absence of one - or at least it is until you want to go into one. Canterbury, being a sort of hub of commerce for central Kent and a popular shoppytourist destination for Johnny Foreigner, is a town pretty damn well stocked with shops. It is not one, however, without its own strange absences.

Today I was wandering around town in search of either a knife sharpening stone or some really light gauge metalworking files – not for sharpening knives, but for fret levelling on a bass I’m having problems with. Whist on this course I remembered something I observed in the first year but forgot; namely that there are no hardware stores in Canterbury. There is just about every other kind of shop you’d care to mention but nothing that sells anything like that.

The closest thing that there is to one that I know of is the B&Q on the outskirts of town. B&Q is a fine British institution which prides itself on their very open, non racist, non ageist non sexist employment policy – it is always staffed by a fine cross section of society united only by their orange aprons and abject stupidity. Last time I went to B&Q I had to explain what sandpaper* was to a gormless little skinhead.

I’ve actually had some insight into why this might be though; when I was about 17 I applied for a job there and was given an application form that took the form of a large multiple-choice questionnaire. It was filled with questions like this --

-1- A man fires a gun at a customer you are about to serve, what would you do?

(a) Jump in front of the customer and take the bullet for him

(b) Take cover and call the police

(c) Laugh, put the boot in, and then rummage through his pockets for change

Now I look at this set of answers and think: “now surely they don’t expect me to lie that much, I’ll put B as that is sensible and plausible”.

Needless to say I didn’t even get called up for an interview, someone I know though - who couldn’t count to 11 without taking his shoes off - applied at the same time, answered A style answers for everything and got the job with no problem. They have a recruitment system so stupid that anyone capable of thinking with any kind of subtlety is eliminated at the first round.

As a result of all this though, to get back to my original point, I am still having fretbuzz problems on the 3rd and 6th frets on the E and A strings which makes me cranky.

Anyway. I think I’m going to go to the pub now, as I’m already bored and it’s only 8:30


*yes I know that it’s technically called glasspaper and I did try that one – I think it just confused him further