Grizzled Old Fool At The Haberdashery

I am very pleased to announce that the latest episode in the Grizzled Old Fool series of multi-platform cultural interventions has been released. Grizzled Old Fool At The Haberdashery sees the grizzled old fool going to a haberdashery to buy buttons and cloth and pins. As usual, he is chewing a plug of tobacco and wearing his trademark battered old hat. He behaves ineptly in the haberdashery, piddling in his trousers and overturning a display stand of thread samples. In a particularly poignant moment, he is mistaken for Mark E Smith of The Fall and prevailed upon to sing an extempore version of “City Hobgoblins” to the haberdasher’s excited children.

Much attention is given to the purpose to which the grizzled old fool intends to put his purchases. Buttons, cloth, and pins are hardly the kinds of things we expect to see deployed by our hero, who we are more used to seeing traipsing between his shack and his outdoor privy, shouting at the sky. He does plenty of shouting in the haberdashery, at nobody in particular, and he also leaves a trail of drool upon the countertop.

When the haberdasher eventually calls the police, the grizzled old fool is bundled onto the back of their cart and ferried to the riverside police station. Cruelly, they shove him into the river, not realising that he is of course amphibious, like unto a toad. Happily splashing about in the water, the grizzled old fool makes his way to the opposite bank. He clambers ashore and pops into a chemist’s shop where he buys some bandages, a bottle of mouthwash, and the boiled head of a goat. This last is a prized medicament in the land on the other side of the river, where scrapings from it are used as an aperient. Tossing his purchases into a greaseproof paper bag, the grizzled old fool waits for nightfall before plunging back into the river and returning to his own country. The police station is shuttered and deserted, so he pauses to spit a gobbet of phlegm onto the door before heading back towards the haberdashery under a gibbous moon.

The haberdasher’s excited children are all tucked up and fast asleep, but before gulping down their bedtime milk slops they left some buttons and cloth and pins on a tray outside the haberdasher’s catflap. They also left a note in spidery handwriting for the grizzled old fool, but they wrote it in Latin, so to him it is merely mumbo-jumbo. Nevertheless, he puts the note in his greaseproof paper bag together with the buttons and cloth and pins. Then he goes to the bus shelter to await what will be a lovely magnificent dawn.

The colours for the dawn, in the pictorial version of Grizzled Old Fool At The Haberdashery, were created by a pigmentist whose previous contributions to the series include the garden of the mentalist, the daubs of paint on the cuffs of a hobbledehoy, and the eerie twilight in Penge. I have a great deal of respect for this pigmentist, more than I have for the grizzled old fool himself, who has always seemed to me a rather one-dimensional character. It is true that he is grizzled and old and foolish, which are three separate characteristics, but quite honestly I think it is time he extended his repertoire. We have seen him go the haberdashery and the chemist’s shop and, in previous adventures, to the clinic and the post office and the library and the community hub and the football stadium and the pie shop and the orchestra pit and the marina and the gigantic forbidding temple atop the craggy mountain and the slums and the duckpond and the archipelago and the glue factory, but wherever he goes he remains simply grizzled and old and foolish. Might I suggest that for his next appearance he grows a moustache and sits, shattered, in a vaporetto, while the strains of the Adagietto from Mahler’s fifth symphony wash over us, and we burst into tears?

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