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Thursday, 30 May 2019


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

It is easy for customers to get hold of the wrong end of the stick, (or the twig, or the branch – all will become clear as this story unfolds).  I was having a coffee break one morning in my office, away from the shenanigans on the shop floor, when a young mother phoned to tell me that, in her words, there was a tree in her curry ready meal.  I sat in my office, phone to ear, quite shocked at this strange complaint but, like the TV cops of the 1950s, we managers are always trained to get the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.  But I couldn’t help but imagine a giant oak firmly embedded in amongst the chicken, peppers and curry sauce.
As I was concerned, I asked her to bring the offending meal back to the shop and she agreed to come in that very afternoon.  But as soon as I had put the phone down, I realised that I had not offered the services of a lumberjack and a large truck.  But, as it happened, none of that was necessary.  When she brought the curry meal in, I unwrapped it and found two bay leaves in the exotic mess.  I explained that bay leaves were there to help flavour the food and she reddened up and laughed.  “But it’s still part of a tree,” she said.  “Yes, it is,” I agreed, “but, thankfully, not the whole tree.”  She ignored me, accepted a refund and left the shop.  I thought about this complaint for a while and concluded that in this game, sometimes life is not fir, but we can all pine for a better fuchsia, and no matter what, it is important to curry favour with all customers when they korma round to my shop.

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