This was supposed to be your weekly ‘Helen’ post, but it then dawned on me that the next one wouldn’t make any sense unless I told this part of the story first.
When we moved to Manchester, I got a job working for Oddbins on Deansgate (I’ve no idea if it is still there, I’m going back in a couple of weeks to check). We were an eclectic crew. The manager was a former chef named Graeme Wright – known to all as Grighty – who was so grumpy he made Waldorf and Staedler look manic.On the plus side, he was kind at heart and a big American Football fan.
The second-in-command was a Scot named Simon (I forget his surname) who was less interested in wine than in dance music. Whilst I have him to thank for introducing me to bands such as Mark Stewart & The Mafia, I was always conscious that his interest was being maintained by the devious tactic of buying records from the local Our Price, taking them home, taping them and then taking them back and exchanging them for something else. Our Price appeared quite happy for him to use them as his own personal record library and so I wasn’t surprised when they later went bust.
The other member of the full time staff was Hunter Maberley, a Kiwi dyslexic whose outside interests appeared to be body building and weightlifting, and me.
As a team we worked pretty well together. Hunter did all of the heavy work, I manned the tills, Simon provided the music and chatted up the customers, and Grighty stood around with a face like thunder and did paperwork. That said, the man knew his wine inside out, could sell sand to Arabs (he won every sales competition going for years) and the regulars loved him for it.
Good things have to come to an end, though. My contract was only until Christmas Eve. I desperately wanted to stay, but there was no room for me at that inn. And so I found myself in a strange town, out of work and with the rent to pay.