As a child do you remember playing ‘shop’? I do. Generally there would be a theme to the shop – I was particularly keen at playing Post Office and Bakery. And Library, which isn’t exactly a shop but follows some of the same principles (see, I was primed to spend a good chunk of my early to mid twenties in customer service roles).

And I couldn’t help but think back to that when I collected our shop keys today. Because – for (almost) three weeks, Charlie and I are officially shopkeepers. All I need is my old plastic till, some teddy bears and my doll Bonnie and I am ready to sell fake dog licenses and mud pies. Which probably explains why I was so excited as I went to open the shutter.

Only – well, there had to be something that provided some sort of comic interlude and, predictably, the moment I went to insert the key into the lock it became painfully obvious that something wasn’t quite right. Either my career as a shopkeeper was over before it had even begun as I was unable to do something as simple as insert a key into a lock or – I hoped – I’d been given the wrong key.

Thankfully it turned out to be the latter rather than the former and soon I was back, shutter opening.

And, erm, it is safe to say I wasn’t quite expecting the sight that greeted me:

Crates

Inside Shop 82.

Free Soup (& other crap)

On the plus side one of the things on our to-do list had been: ‘get a ladder’ (result), however I don’t remember the bit of the list that said ‘get several muddy crates’. And a ‘Free Soup’ sign?

So, yes, a little bit of a mixed bag of abandoned items from the shop’s last (temporary) occupants.

Just when I was about to start cataloguing everything in the unit (I do like a list) a man in a green hoodie popped his head through the open shutter.

“Have you been told not to use the sink?”

“Nooo”. For indeed I hadn’t been. Though now I look at it I can see it is partially disconnected.

“I’m the onsite plumber” explains Green Hoodie Man in a cheerful manner. “We think there’s a crack in the basin – it flooded the entire shop last week”.

Nice.

Green Hoodie Man and I stand over the sink for a bit. He tinkers, we both wait. There is most definitely a leak.

“I wouldn’t use the sink” he says.

I agree.

Once we’ve said our goodbyes another man pops in.

“I got sent round to see about woodchippings” He says.

It is safe to say it was never quite this surreal when I used to play ‘shop’.

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