50 Pounds Please! – A SAD STORY

When I lived in Hackney our corner shop was run by this sweet Indian couple. Whenever I would buy something I would go to the counter and hand it over and he would go “that is 50 pounds please” and I’d go “50 pounds? for a pack of gum??” and we would both laugh good naturedly. He would do it every time regardless of what little thing I bought, it became our ‘thing’. He had a wife that never spoke, but she would smile benignly at the back.

One day I went up to the counter and he said, “helloo!” and laughed and I said “helloo!” back and laughed too and then I said “can I get some condoms?” And he stopped laughing and stared at me and his wife stopped smiling benignly and also stared at me and she had great sadness in her eyes.

He reached for the condoms and handed them over and said quietly “that’s 4.99 please.” and I went, “what’s that? 50 pounds??” and laughed loudly and he looked at me gravely and went “4.99”

I never went into that shop again.