So this morning I had the following conversation with a young lady who works in WH Smith.
Me :: [Handing over a card with the meerkat on it which I was buying for my grandmother, who likes meerkats] Just that please.
Lady :: Are you interested in half price Dan Brown today?
Me :: I’m sorry?
Lady :: You can order Dan Brown’s latest book for half price.
Me :: Um, no, thanks. Do I look like a simpleton?
Lady :: Eh?
Me :: No, I was just wondering – do I look like a simpleton? You know, an imbecile.
Lady :: [Not sure] Erm… it’s half price. It’s a promotion.
Me :: The reason I ask, incidentally, is not because I’d necessarily have to be a simpleton to read a Dan Brown book, although…. [waiting in vain for some recognition of a shared sense of intellectual snobbery before giving up and continuing] No, it’s just that, if I did want to buy Dan Brown’s latest book, I’d probably already be aware of the fact. Without being prompted. Don’t you think?
Lady :: We ask everybody.
Me :: Well, I wish you wouldn’t.
Lady :: But we ask everybody.
Me :: Yeah, I’ve gathered that. You ask everybody. Great. It’s just that it doesn’t seem fair to me, you know? I mean, there’s my book, for example, a gorgeous, funny, moving little memoir that no one’s ever heard of, struggling for breath, slowly drowning in a sea of suffocating, interminable dross, and there’s Dan Brown’s latest congregation of moronisms, which has, if memory serves me well, an initial print run of 6.5 million copies – 6.5 million copies which will fly off the shelves like hot cakes in cold climate – and despite this already assured best seller status, WH Smith are making every effort to ram it down the throats of customers who don’t even want it. Two weeks before it comes out and it’s already the literary equivalent of McDonald’s fries. You know? ‘Do you want fries with that?’ Erm, no, thanks. If I’d wanted waxy strips of tasteless toxic spew with my order, I’m pretty sure I would’ve asked for them. Similarly, if I wanted to spend ten pounds on nearly 500 pages of poorly-constructed toilet paper, you would probably have known about it by now. Do you know what I’m trying to say?
Unfortunately, she was serving someone else by then.
Oh, Dan Brown.
How I hate you.