Our friend Frank was in Town on Saturday. Nose pressed against charity shop window, anxiously waiting for it to open for business, he clocked us on our way to the next door coffee house. --Hello Charlotte hello William I love charity shops do you like charity shops I love them me always something nice some nice surprise I love charity shops and they're always so nice to me. --Morning Franks, yes, we - --Are you going in there for a coffee for one of their nice lattes and a nice little cake the one with the sprinkles. --Good idea! William and me'll see you in a minute, maybe - we'll have a latte waiting for you. Four minutes later. --Charlotte the lady won't let me have the bag she says I can't have the bag she says the bag is two pounds and I've only got one and I said would you take a pound and she said no she would not take a pound because the bag is two pounds so she won't let me have the bag. --Can you wait there a moment, Frank, while I have a word with William? --Yes Charlotte I can do that. Across to William queuing for supplies. --Frank's in a pickle, says the woman won't let him have a bag; he's a pound short and she's playing hardball - can we help? --Got no change. Ask him to hang on and I'll go next door with him. --Frank, William's going to go back with you - --It's all right she'll let me have the bag I know she'll let me have the bag I'll go back now and I think she'll let me have the bag. Exit Frank. Three minutes later, enter Frank. --Charlotte she won't let me have the bag she says I don't have enough money and I shouldn't be buying bags and - --Frank, it'll be fine, mate - come on, let's have a chat with this lady.' Exit William and Frank. A few moments later, enter William and Frank. --Charlotte do you like it I do love red don't you and look at all these little pockets I can put all my stuff in them and look at this little dangle says it's real leather look it says genuine leather can you see. --Well done! Worth the effort and the colour is very cheerful. Latte time now, Frank? --I'm just going to see someone I'll see you both in a little bit. Exit Frank. --So, what was she like? --A horror. Frank couldn't see the bag at first, the woman had actually bothered to move it - to the window display - I fetched it up and asked her if she took cards. Spoke to Frank like he was five not thirty-five and never said a word to me. It's a charity shop, for God's sake. Enter Frank. --Charlotte do you think this bag is damaged I think there's something wrong with the strap it keeps slipping off my shoulder and I can't get on with all these zips see I keep catching my pinkie in that one William have you still got the receipt is it there on the counter no not that one yes that's the one there do you think I should take the bag back and get a refund would you mind and then spend the money on something I'd really like. --Fine with me, mate. No problem. Exit Frank. --Bet she wishes she'd taken his quid now. Enter Frank, visibly distressed. --Charlotte did I ask William for money that lady says I shouldn't go around asking grown men for money and that I'd no business carrying a handbag in the first place I don't think she's a nice lady. --Frank, she's a horror. Forget her. --Yes Charlotte I'll do that and now I'll buy something I really like. Exit Frank. --That bloody woman's really upset him. She should be reported. Or something. --William. --What? Enter Frank. --Charlotte do you like it it was five pounds but the nice lady over the road let me have it for one pound fifty so here's your change William. --Keep it mate. --Or put it in a charity box - not next door, though! --Yes Charlotte I can do that yes look there's one on the counter yes I can do that excuse me please excuse me please thank you that's better done it now better get back to The House I've got so much stuff they told me there's no room for any more but this is just so pretty and pink and sparkly and it fits my wrist just perfect. --Just perfect, Frank. Exit Frank.
That was a few weeks ago. Since then Frank has indulged in a series of bitter-sweet relationships with, in no particular order, a necklace, a brooch, a (different) bag, a baseball jacket and a pair of trainers.
"I therefore decided to say No henceforth to every suggestion, request or inquiry whether inward or outward. It was the only simple formula which was sure and safe. It was difficult to practise at first and often called for heroism but I persevered and hardly ever broke down completely. It is now many years since I said Yes."
O'Brien, F. (1993). The Third Policeman, London: Flamingo Modern Classics, p.31