I like the word triumph, also it reminds me of trifle and any day that involves trifle is pretty triumphant in my opinion.
There’s one memory that pops into my mind when I see the word “triumph” and that is because this memory is everything that being triumphant is not. I’m not kidding, this day was the dumbest most frustrating and pointless day of my life and every time I think about it I die a little. Okay, it’s time to reopen this old wound…
I wrote this a while back but never published it.
I entitled it: “The matter of 5p” (here we go)
Allow me to set the scene, it is sometime in 2009. A tragic time for my fashion sense and a dark time for my upper lip (like, literally, I still had a viciously visible moustache every 2-3 business days). The place is Ilford town centre; a beautiful and historic little place filled with luxury pound shops and a random clown that makes really bad balloon “animals”. I and my girl Pingu (that’s not her real name, but noot noot peasants) are sitting outside the cinema at 9am like some aimless drifters (basically foreshadowing the future).
Pingu saw a flier that claimed renown Bollywood actor Aamir Khan would be chilling at Ilford Cineworld… on a Sunday… at 9am… to meet fans…………………………..
Needless to say, this was not true and we wasted a good hour sitting on a bench. We decided to call it quits and hit the shops because Pingu’s sister had a bunch of stuff she wanted for her new home. The first stop was Costa for some much-needed tea, we sat, we drank, we laughed, I dropped a penny on the floor. No big deal though, I had pennies to spare… or so I thought…
I remember wasting a lot of money on random food that day… Sounds a lot like adulthood if I’m honest. Anyway, as the day progressed we managed to tick everything off of Pingus list, except for a set of long candles. We searched everywhere for these candles and couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally we came across and random home furnishing shop that no one ever went in to because it was too prestige for us thrifty bargain hunters. We found the candles (can I get a hallelujah!!) and they were a sweet £5. Upon paying Pingu realises that she’s short so I lend her some money and we are still £1 short. I start looking deep in my bag, my purse, my pockets and my soul desperately trying to find the final £1 because we did not spend 5 hours looking for some damn candles only to find them and not go home with them!! After many minutes of scavenging in a prestigious shop with the shop assistant staring in disgust we come up with a grand total of £4.95 and some fake ass cheesy grins in the hopes of getting away without the last 5p. BUT NO. THIS WOMAN WATCHED US STRUGGLE FOR THE MONEY LIKE SOME SICK FREAK. SHE SAW HOW DESPERATE WE WERE FOR THOSE UGLY CANDLES AND WOULD NOT LET IT SLIDE. WE WERE THE FIRST CUSTOMERS IN THAT SHOP ALL DAY. THIS WAS HER CHANCE TO GIVE HER LIFE MEANING AGAIN WITH A SALE BUT NOOOOO. She just gave us that look like we were trash and so we had to admit defeat. The worst part was that she made us put the candles back on the shelf before leaving.
We left the shop and I had the bright idea of looking on the ground because there was ALWAYS discarded 1p and 2p coins that people couldn’t be bothered to pick up after dropping. So basically my bright idea was to act like beggars… for some reason, we both thought it was a good idea and started wandering the streets with our heads down looking for some coins. Typically the street would be showered in coins but of course, on the day you look there isn’t a copper penny in sight. We searched for hours, mate. All of a sudden I remembered the penny I dropped in Costa and we bolted to the cafe immediately dropped on the floor and picked up the penny as victoriously as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (supposedly, but let’s not get into that right now).
When I say we looked in every crevice and corner of Ilford town centre for some pennies I fully mean EVERY SINGLE INCH OF THAT PLACE. Remember we had been at Ilford since 9am… It was now 5pm and we were running out of options. We were 15 and had no credit cards, it was a simpler time. I’m sure we could have just left it and come back another day because we literally lived ten minutes from the town centre and would go there every day. At this point, it was a matter of pride; pride which we swallowed and shat out when we finally decided to ask strangers if they could spare us 4p. Oh, my God, I cannot believe we did that and I cannot believe it worked because this one dad took so much pity on us he gave us a full 20p coin. Beauty if I ever saw it.
You best believe we walked back into that home furnishing shop with our £5.16 like we were kings. We threw those candles and that £5 on the counter without even looking at it and the beast had to bag it and wish us a nice day. Oh, we’d have a nice day, we would have a nice day indeed.
We went home and took a nap. Weeks later Pingu tells me that the candles are still in the bag, unused. I came very near to a psychotic breakdown that day.
To this day I cannot look at a 5p coin without getting some jarring flashbacks, and whenever someone tells me I don’t know the value of money I imagine their death in my head.
(my face whenever I think about this memory)
Looking back on this story makes me so mad. Why did we do that, W-H-Y?? There was absolutely no need, the candles were not a necessity and like I said, we used to go there every day. The candles weren’t even that nice and Ilford isn’t the only shopping place, she could’ve gone somewhere else and got much nicer candles… she probably did… Ok. Now I’m stressed. This is the worst story ever.