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In Waterstone's January sales I am seduced
by the lower shelves'possibilities.
Straightening up I receive a now familiar spinal stab.
My knees collapse, my eyes roll upwards
and I exasperate a series of loud guttural sighs.
It's a small comfort that at least I know I'm not dying.
People around the sales table move rapidly away
as if I'm calling on Jehovah to damn them all
and they don't want to take any chances.
The security guard reaches for the gun
he doesn't have, but which
he's always imagined he does.
A female assistant,
it's always a woman who does this,
sensibly asks if I'm alright
and if I want an ambulance.
'Bad back' I gasp, 'be alright in a minute.'
People smile with relief and consolation
and warily edge forward.
I struggle to my feet and then move around
slowly, searching out the pain so as to avoid it,
then to ease and manipulate it.
At odd angles I make my way across the road
to The House of Fraser cosmetics department.
Giving me a wide girth, women buying Givenchy,
Obsession and Chanel are seriously perturbed
by my bar-less limbo arching,
my satanic neck rotations and
my constabulary knee-bends.
Approaching the Patterson's
chocolate coated shortbreads
I am surrounded by burly walkie-talkies.
A bad attitude here would see me
lobbed out the door to connect
spine first with the paved walkway,
but the humour is universal as I tell them,
'Me back's gone - just gave out in Waterstone's.'
Laughing, they leave me to it as I spinally gyrate
and gesticulate with apparent abandon
like a demented tai-chi fanatic
towards china and glassware.