Rhodri Marsden: The electric current of social ineptitude still flows through me

Life on Marsden

Share

While I was growing up in the 1970s, electrical appliances were sold without the plug you needed to get them working. It made no sense. It was like buying a bike and having to fit your own wheels, or going for marriage guidance counselling and having to bring your own tissues.

But that's the way it was and today's youth will surely react with the same shock and disbelief to tales of this appalling suffering as they did when they first heard about the scourge of smallpox or the concerts of Gary Glitter.

A side effect of this retail policy was that my father would cheerily ask the person at the checkout if they would throw in a plug for free. They'd always say no, so he'd ask again. "Oh, go on!" I started to find it embarrassing. In retrospect it seems totally reasonable, but at the age of six I was thinking: "Look, electrical items simply don't come with plugs. It's an anomalous hangover from our old BS546 AC power standard, so let's cut our losses and get out of here."

The upshot: I developed an allergy to exchanging superfluous banter with anyone selling me anything.

No such fear for my father; if anything, he's accelerated his enthusiasm.

"Ooh, is this all for me?" he'll ask a waiter as a large meal is plonked in front of him. The waiter will laugh and reassure him that it is, as I bury my face in my hands. I appreciate that the waiter and my father are normal and I'm the one who's socially inept, so I've been trying to do something about it by forcing myself to engage.

It's not been going well, though. I inadvertently ended up flirting with a cashier in Sainsbury's the other day, which would have been fine but he was a bloke in his mid-50s. Then last week I walked into my local shop to find nearly all the floorspace stacked high with 2-litre bottles of Coca-Cola; hundreds of them blocking the aisles, with hundreds more being loaded in by two blokes wearing high-visibility jackets. It was ridiculous – but it gave me an opportunity to emulate my dad.

"Hi!" I said to the shopkeeper, smiling. "So, I was wondering, do you sell Coca-Cola?" His brow furrowed as he delivered a one-word reply: "Yes." Deflated, I bought some mints and went home.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels last month  

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
 

Isis in Iraq: Even if Iraqi troops take back Saddam’s city of Tikrit they will face bombs and booby traps

Patrick Cockburn
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003