Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Not Such a Soft Option

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Not Such a Soft Option

Article excerpt

FOR complicated reasons I needed to buy a pillow in a hurry. There is no need for me to go into detail, suffice to say they might have involved a hot mug of Bovril, an unexpectedly large moth, and my deep-seated distrust of the motives of unexpectedly large moths.

I decided to buy it on my way in to the office, once again indulging my inability to think things through.

For I have never had to buy a single pillow before now. And neither have you. Because it is impossible to buy a single pillow in a hurry. They all come in pairs.

"Do you have any single pillows?" I asked the man adjusting the display of soap dishes in the Troubled Retailer I had chosen.

"No, they're all one size," he replied, confused, imagining a zany world in which there might be double-width pillows for double beds, and actually that might not be a bad idea.

I explained and he said I was out of luck and so I was forced to buy two pillows. But not only was I forced to buy two pillows, I was forced to convey two pillows from the Troubled Retailer to my office.

A single pillow would have been fine; I could have gripped the pillow in my hand. But you would need uncommonly large hands to carry a bag filled with two pillows and air. If you had hands big enough for that, they would become your defining feature. "There he is, Billy Big Hands," people would shout. "Don't you go anywhere near my dry roasted peanuts. I'll only have the dust left."

But I have normal-sized hands, which meant I had to carry the bag under my arm, like Rod Hull and Pillow, through the city centre streets.

It was a gusty day, and I was buffeted by cross winds which caught the pillows and made it difficult for me to turn corners. And I couldn't help noticing the people staring at me, the man in a suit and tie, trying to look nonchalantly as if carrying pillows through town while desperately trying to stop them from blowing away was the most natural thing in the world. …

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