This week the country threw its hands up in horror at the thought of paying 5p for a plastic bag. I know I’m being facetious because a lot of people (like me) do agree with it, but so many others have been upset.
Harry and Gary in the Spar were more annoyed than most because the charge is only 5p, for months now their plastic bags have been 10p, although they did have a free ‘bag for life’ campaign before they introduced the levy. Now that the government have set the rate at 5p there has been quite a hoo ha about whether they should reduce their charge or not.
‘No, I’m not doing it, if the government want to be weak that’s up to them, I for one am sticking to my guns.’ Tom was sitting in the shop on the stool listening to Gary getting more and more het up, the issue didn’t arise for him because he had been collecting old plastic bags for years; in fact he had set up a stall outside the Spar selling his bags for 5p when they had started charging, until he had been moved on by an irate Harry.
‘I think you will have trouble, and we all know who from.’
The ‘who from’ in question was Reg, he had been outraged by the new charge, especially when Margaret had bought an expensive dress for ladies night at the lodge, only to be told she would have to pay 5p for the bag to carry it home in. He refused to pay the extra amount, even though the dress had cost over £100 and Margaret have offered the five pence piece. Getting redder and redder and more irate by the minute he had finally been escorted from the shop by the security guards, Margaret scurrying behind him, the dress bundled and bagless in her arms. The torrential rain they faced when exiting the shop hadn’t helped the situation, by the time they arrived back in the street the dress resembled a bedraggled cloth and Margaret was in tears.
‘The first thing I’m doing when I get in that house is ring my solicitor, I’m suing for assault and emotional distress and then I’m going to The Sun.’
The view from my window suggested that the only sun he would benefit from would be the one that shines brightly in the sky, that or a thick towel, the pair of them were soaked.
I didn’t think the national papers would be interested in Reg’s plastic bag bitterness, but the next day there was more than one article about people carrying their goods to their car in the metal shopping baskets, provided by the supermarket, ‘I was treated like a dog’, sang one headline.
As it turned out The Sun had completed a successful run of ‘life with the 5p plastic bag’ stories and had moved swiftly onto much more important issues, like Wayne Rooney has a snooker table and Posh Spice wears flat shoes.
The next time Reg went into the Spar he and Gary eyed each other like participants in a fast draw duel, it was clear that there was no bag for life in Reg’s hand and the 10p sign twinkled brightly beside the stack of Spar bags. As usual Tom was in residence and he reported later that he did consider running into the street to gather more observers to this tense standoff, as it was events moved far too quickly.
Reg gathered his usual items into the basket, sausages, bacon, sausage meat, pate and bread, he then made his way to the check out. As Gary rung the prices into the till he faltered over the next words, ‘Would you like a bag, it’s…’, before he could announce the price a triumphant Reg pulled a string bag from his pocket with a flourish.
‘No thank you, I have a bag, it’s a one off, a limited edition you might say, made by my Margaret, I’ll be using that from now on. So you can stick your 10p charge where the…’
At this point Shane the vicar walked into the Spar and Reg stopped his sentence midway through, Shane called a cheery hello failing to notice the snarling looks that Gary and Reg were sharing.
As Tom recalled the story in the Short and Curlies later that evening he declared the incident a draw. ‘But’, he warned, ‘this may not be the end of it, there was a bloke in the Spar a bit later on, he was asking a lot of questions, I think he was from The Sun.’