Shopping for necessities in a supermarket, I scampered up and down the aisles in something of the manner of a blind man negotiating traffic, at other times with the twirling step of a matador but always grinning smugly as I brushed aside such delights as chocolate coated raisins, honey oat biscuits and stuffed vine leaves – no doubt they had been rolled on the thighs of virgins for added spiciness – temptation indeed, but no.
I soon found everything I needed and marched my basket to the checkout. I was next in line behind a family comprising a harassed young mother, a distracted older father and a teenager who leant against the bagging desk with his iPod earphones stuffed in. Every now and then he sang the odd word, in response to what he was hearing – dum de dum – but then he burst into full voice for the chorus – “I’m an alien, I’m an evil alien, I’m an Englishman in New York . . .”
His mother looked up, stifled a yawn whilst at the same time doing that strange female hand-flappy thing in front of her face. “Sorry,” she said with half a smile at me. I cast a quick glance at the man, presumably her husband, who was standing with his hands in his pockets watching two barely clad girls choose tights from a rack.
She addressed her boy, tapping him on the shoulder, “Rory, it’s not “EVIL alien it’s ILLEGAL alien.”
“What?” he said, pulling a plug from his ear, but he had heard what she said, “No he’s not ILLEGAL he’s EVIL. That’s the whole point, he’s an EVILALIEN.” The man, his dad, dragged himself back from fantasy land where young girls fancy balding men bulging into middle age, picked up a can of beans and with distracted authority set them both right, “It’s not ILLEGAL either, it’s LEGAL.” With that pearl of wisdom he dropped the beans emphatically into the bag and resumed gawking his fantasy girls, but he wasn’t so mesmerised by them to lose the thread of his superior knowledge – “No son, it’s “I’m a LEGAL alien,” it’s from a song called Englishman in New York by Sting.”
“No it’s not, it’s EVIL,” groaned the boy, but both parents ignored him.
“It’s ILLEGAL!” whisper-growled mum glaring at her old man.
Dad was looking elsewhere and could not read the danger signs. In any case, it is questionable he would have taken his young wife’s grim determination into account even if he had, “No, take it from me, I know, its LEGAL!”
“ILLEGAL!” her voice was deeper, more venomous, this time but still the old man seemed oblivious to the seething volcano he was stoking.
“Look who’s the one who knows everything there is to know about music . . .” he went on to mention something about the pub quiz team reckoning he was well up on what kids listened to nowadays, “There isn’t a song written I don’t know the words to, especially if someone hums it.” His wife meanwhile was having none of it and was throwing packages and tins, fruit and boxes with some force into the trolley as if it was her husband’s exposed body cowering within. She almost screamed, “It’s ILLEGAL! I’ve been singing that song for years, ever since I was at school, ever since Rory was born, and it’s ILLEGAL!”
“No it’s not!”
“Yes it is!”
. . . and throughout the filling of the trolley, giving cash to the checkout girl, walking belligerently to the exit, throughout the entire argument their son was smirking as only teenagers who know everything about how the world works can, and he was singing, “I’m an EVIL alien, I’m an EVIL alien, I’m an EVIL alien . . .”