“Threadbare” Jo was not a man rich in material or emotional blessings but a surprise win backing Random Crosswords to win in the 3:30 at Chepstow gave him “Money to burn,”and now he was determined to enjoy himself. As a rule men did not walk up to him in the street and say, “I wish I was you” or girls murmur “Oh to lie in your stinking, unwashed arms in some public park, and watch the sun setting,” but this was his lucky day
Threadbare, now flush with funds and more formally known as Joseph Leek, walked into “The Shop of Love” to see, emotionally at least, if he could re-equip his circumstances and experience a moment of living in the promised land.
This was no sleazy joint where women leaving the gentle slopes of youth might squeeze one out last ingénue pose for the camera, or men who avoided mirrors, with more desire than youth cause unsettled comment when they entered the premises. No, this was a shop offering the ultimate in emotional experience, if only for a while or possibly a moment , captured in a corked bottle which could be opened and enjoyed within the privacy of your own home. Every hue and shade of feeling, from joy through to despair, ( a surprisingly good seller), was on offer.
Samual Sackly, who liked to weep while others smiled, was found recently, walking inconsolably through the gardens of an historic home crying, as he held a tender flower in his hand, saying, “They will die. You will die. All of them will die” which was true, but not for several months given it was early Spring, after he purchased a deliciously soul-bleaching bottle of “Melancholia” to heighten the experience before he set off on his afternoon ramble.
Joseph Leek just wanted “Love:” The nice old fashioned sort which we enjoyed before sensibility barged into the frame and made strong men weep just by looking at a cloud-tipped view while music soaked them with a sense of loss. “I’m after Love” said “Threadbare” and the attendant nodded sympathetically. He saw every kind of ill-fitting decision, or no decisions at all, walk through the door. Here, as I said, they did not offer the physical experience of being loved, but just the essence of it, in every shade and strength of expression, so you could return home, make an egg sandwich and, quite literally, take the cork out of the bottle.
Now at last, as the yolk spilled down his cheek in the splendid isolation afforded by worn-out curtains and the lack of a phone, his emotion of choice flooded the room, bathing him in sweet recognition until, sated by an unaccustomed sense of acceptance and celebration, he slumped down on his bed and recalled those days when people cared and loved without recourse to manuals or instructions: that lost era before works like, “How To Live The Natural Way,” were to be found in the homes of gym-hardened aesthetes everywhere.