I needed a job, a Saturday job. I wasn’t allowed to work during the week, my brother had helped on a milk round from when he was fourteen, then been stopped because he was underage, then started again. I was the youngest and not allowed to work during the week so my schoolwork wouldn’t suffer. But I needed a job; I couldn’t take girls out on the pittance I got in pocket money. I needed a job!
So did most of the school age kids in the town. So there weren’t enough to go round. The only one I was offered was in the bookshop. Kevin got a job in the record store (but then his cousin was the manager). Jiz (Jeremy if you wanted to wind him up) got a job in the petrol station – 9pm to 1am everyday, he was rolling in money, and slept through many lessons. I got the bookshop. Not just any bookshop, the Christian bookshop.
Originally founded by Mrs Catterick, the pastor’s wife – the pastor of the Baptist Church at the time – in the 1950s as the Christian United Mission (the original name of the church I believe) Bookshop. She ‘modernised’ it in the 1970s to CUM Bookshop. She probably thought it sounded young and trendy; and she meant come to church of course. I doubt she ever understood the ribald remarks that were made, the laughter at the name. She probably put it down to ‘suffering for the Lord’ and dismissed it. I think her daughter, who took over, had had a sheltered upbringing and had no concept of what CUM might also mean. So it remained the CUM Bookshop, and I worked there from Saturday November 9th and had to put up with the jokes at my expense. It didn’t pay well either, not really.
They didn’t really need two people working there; even on a Saturday, the busiest day, it was not crowded with God-fearing people desperate for the latest CS Lewis or a new copy of that best-seller The Bible. Once you have an AV, an RSV, a New Edition, an edition in the original Greek (or whatever), a copy signed by the author (just my joke, actually, the customer I made that too took it seriously “You have a copy signed by God! I must have it.” That was not long before I left, so I don’t know if he came back to say the signature wasn’t right), well how many do you need? So it was a quiet shop at the busiest times, and dead in the holidays, except at Christmas when our religious cards sold quite well – no jokey Santas being propositioned by be-stockinged nymphets in our card racks!
Miss Catterick never married, she ran the shop alone during the week, and took the Saturday off to help in the Old People’s Home. Naturally the shop was not open on the Sabbath. I suggested it once, I said we could convert the back to a small coffee shop and open on Sundays to entice people in to the shop and see the Christian message unconsciously – I was already thinking about advertising and marketing as a career – but I was shot down in flames as the very Devil for even suggesting such work on a Sunday. I thought it would be Godly work trying to spread the word, but apparently only approaches that don’t stand a chance of working are allowed. Like standing in the square, holding a black leather bound copy of ‘The Good Book’ and ‘preaching the word’ to people who simply laughed. Why not get on their wavelength, like Jesus did? I said to Becky, she smiled at me and said that wasn’t the Christian way – to be of the world.
Becky? Oh, well, she was the one silver lining. She worked in the shop on a Saturday too. Miss Catterick felt it would not do to let a slip of a girl run the shop alone, it needed security. Especially at closing time when the takings had to be put into the nightsafe. I mean, yes, someone might have mugged her for the money, but they would have been very disappointed to get barely enough for a fish supper and a pint.
So I was security, the muscle. We both, Becky and I, laughed at that. As Becky said, even she was probably heavier than me at seventeen. I didn’t agree, of course, but it was true. She once admitted to being eight stone and two pounds. I was seven stone and ten pounds. [for those of a metric disposition, a pound is about half a kilogramme and a stone is fourteen pounds] I was thin, verging on weedy. Wiry. I called it. Still, Miss Catterick was of the age and generation that reckoned a women needed a man to cope with life – though she never felt that about herself, of course. She was one of the best women I ever knew. Kind, polite, and patient; I’m sure she died a virgin having willingly spent her life in the service of her God. It isn’t just Catholic nuns you see.
Becky was eight stone of rounded, firm and luscious femininity. She dressed like a normal girl, short skirts and tight tops. I think she was ignorant of the baser instincts of the average boy; and the baser instincts of the average Christian boy were probably not much better. I was tempted to switch churches to hers, but since I only went once or twice a year, I felt my Sundays were better spent doing my homework rather than chasing the unattainable. Sometimes you just know things are out of your hands, out of your reach.
So, did I ever have to exert my masculine machismo and escort someone out? Well, lets see; in the nearly two years I was there, we had an angry Muslim – we were pushing the book about Islam being the misleading preachings of the evil one, so it’s not surprising he was angry. He was six foot three of pure anger at his religion being insulted. I was five foot ten of skin and bone, ready to fall over in a breeze. Becky handled him calmly and diplomatically. She took it upon herself to move the books to the back of the shop and persuaded Miss Catterick to stock the Life of Mahommed which was a book arguing that the two religions had more in common than they realised. We had an angry Christian who effed and blinded in ways that made me blush, Becky stood her ground and simply said “Come back when you can keep a civil tongue in your head, sir. Our customers do not wish to hear words like that.” Since he was the only customer, I admired her front. No, I mean I admired her courage, not her front like you think I mean (oh, I admired that front too). And we had the Evolution Demonstration when Miss Catterick invited the author of ‘Footprints of Dinosaurs – a demolition of the false theory of evolution’ to come and sign books. The demonstration outside brought a lot of publicity. She was in the shop that Saturday and sent me to tell the demonstrators to stay out of the shop. I recognised three of my class mates, they recognised me. Very embarrassing. But if I worked in a sex shop, does it mean I approve of vibrators? (okay, yes it does). Or ... Oh anyway, people have a right to have their opinions. Although I did believe in evolution, I told them at school that it wasn’t right for science to stop freedom of expression.Anyway, Miss Catterick thought I was the right man for the job because the demonstrators didn’t invade the shop – the demonstrators told me they had no intention of coming in, but I may not have told Miss Catterick that.
So, on the whole, no, my role as bouncer wasn’t needed much. The most difficult people were the teenagers who thought it hilarious to shout in things like “Coming in the books are you?” Miss Catterick thought this was an attack on Christians and saw herself as suffering like the poor Christians behind the Iron Curtain. Like I said, she was pure and innocent, and good and naive. I wasn’t going to go up and explain. Neither was Becky; of course Becky understood, but she couldn’t take Miss Catterick aside and explain what cum was, could she?
In the stock room at the back, books were piled up on shelves to the ceiling. The ones at the top were the ones that had never sold. I think the shop never threw anything out. I found a first edition of That Hideous Strength there once. Not worth a fortune, but I stil have it (yes, I DID pay for it). Anyway, sometimes if Saturday was exceptionally quiet, Becky would re-arrange the stock, and if I was exceptionally lucky, I’d go into the stock room when she was up the step-ladder and get an exceptionally fine view of her perfect behind encased in her snow-white knickers. Becky was the kind of girl who could have acted as a Pied Piper for boys if she had wanted to. She had a clear skin with naturally peachy cheeks and dark hair that lustred in the light. Her eyes seemed smilingly happy almost all of the time, happy to see you, you especially; made you think you were special. She wore minimum lipstick, not rosy, prostitute, red; just enough to emphasise the pink of her lips. Her tight tops made her bust even more attractive, but it was large, and well controlled. If she jumped or ran, it didn’t bounce. I imagined it being held tightly under wired control by Playtex or Triumph. If they were held down so hard, I reasoned, they must be delightfully bigger when they were freed. Her bottom, I had had the opportunity to see under her skirt, as I said. It, too was perfect in all its rounded, firmness. I actually dreamt, one night, of her being up the step-ladder and me lifting her skirt and biting her bottom. Naturally, when I woke, I was stiff as a poker. In the first summer, I had the opportunity to confirm my impression of her breasts when I met her and some friends in the swimming baths. She was in a bikini which amply showed off her bust and the cleavage between. She saw me looking and blushed, but really, why wear something that allows the base of both breasts to be visible and is thin enough for the hint of a pimple at the apex of each fabric triangle (these were not cups like her bras), if you don’t think people will look?
She never mentioned a boyfriend; she mentioned church groups, sunday groups, school Christian groups and bible studies on Wednesdays; some were mixed, some not. I got the message that the first boy inside her blouse, let alone her knickers, would be the boy who had just married her.
So, I continued to earn a small wage, and then waste it on Sandra, then Avril, then Dawn. I got a few handfuls of tit, a lot of tongue-kissing, and that was all. These were far too sensible to give their pussy for a couple of nights at the cinema. Not like today when buying a Starbucks coffee seems to entitle you to anal sex.
Anyway, time dragged on, I enjoyed working at the shop, despite the jokes I had made about me, it wasn’t hard work. Occasionally someone I knew would call in, and then they would see one of the reasons for staying.Most of my friends wouldn’t go near this shop, which suited me fine actually.
That weekend when the football team were playing at home and the sunshine had switched to Summer for a day or two, and the pubs had been allowed to open all day as an experiment. Well, it was a perfect storm really. Didn’t matter if the team won or lost, the supporters would be hammered by three o clock.Which stupid Claret-drinking fuckwit thought that pubs being open all day would allow drinkers to pace themselves? I was in the toilet having a dump when the yobs came in. Two skinheads with tattoos that said Hate and Mum, and one had Helem on his arm. I assumed it should have been Helen but the tattooist couldn’t spell. Anyway, when I came out, they had Becky against the service desk and were making ... let us say ungallant suggestions, mostly about where their tongues could go. They didn’t see me. As I got close, one reached out to squeeze her tit, her left one I think, and I just slapped his hand away. He turned and hit me in the mouth. I mean hard! Then, as I stumbled over a display, he kicked out at my nads. Stumbling over probably save my gonads from exploding from his DMs. Still f-ing painful though. I hit the ground and expected to receive a kicking. Actually they both legged it. Becky burst into tears, and, limping hero that I was, I got up and put my arm round her.
I suggested we close early, and she agreed. She wanted to ring Miss Catterick, but I knew that would just send to old woman (she was at least fifty! - I was young and callow) into a panic. I closed and locked the doors, she picked up the books. Then we went into the back and put the kettle on.
She got out the medicine box and put TCP on my split lip. “What about down there?” she said “Should we check?”
I was as much in shock as her. The last fight I’d had was when I was ten, and I lost that by two falls (yes, I got up both times – so at least I’m not a quitter) and a submission (the bastard damn near broke my arm). I actually did feel sick from the violence and from the kick. I just undid my jeans and dropped them and my pants. My balls were tender, but undamaged. She caressed them to make them better, and leant in and kissed me on my damaged lips. It hurt me, but I wasn’t going to stop her. “You were so brave, thank you. Is this helping? I ... oh!” Yes, it was, it was having the inevitable result of giving me an erection. “Did I cause that?” I nodded, dry mouthed, willing her to carry on. “Shall I carry on?” I nodded again.