I blink for a bit.
‘Pardon?’ I say.
‘Your coat. You’ll have to clean it before we can do anything with it.’
I am in a Dry-Cleaning Emporium. Brandishing an overcoat. My only overcoat. It is apparently offensive in that it is not in pristine condition.
‘I need to take my coat away. And then clean it myself. With my hands. And then bring it back. So that you can then clean it?’
‘I’m afraid so, yes. It is far too dirty for us to consider.’
I then proceed to the You Can Purchase Anything Imaginable Emporium. I require a new keyboard for my computing machine so that people reading my emails do not suspect me of being a drunkard/imbecile when they see that every other letter of each word is missing.
In order to acquire this I have to leaf through a laminated catalogue until I see a picture of my desired item. I then have to write an arcane code onto something that resembles a betting slip.
Taking the betting slip to a troglodyte behind a small computing machine of her own results in my paying for the item. After queuing for a bit. Despite never having even seen it.
The troglodyte then refuses to surrender my coveted purchase.
It seems I have to join another queue. And wait to receive the item I have just paid for. Strictly speaking my keyboard has been stolen before I have even touched it. After suffering wipe-clean magazines and arcane rituals involving betting slips.
Three people before me are informed, before their stolen goods are presented to them, that the goods themselves are not exactly as they would have imagined. In that they are different items altogether. And is that O.K?
When I reach the desk of Kidnapped Goods That Rightly Belong To Someone Who Paid For Them Fifteen Minutes Previously the following exchange takes place:
‘Seems like a bit of a lucky dip here.’ Say I.
’43?’ Says he.
It has been an unsatisfactory afternoon.