The Notes They Aren’t Achangin by Paul Tanner

CHANGE ME TENNER?
this old crone
pushes to the front of the queue
waving a note at me.

Don’t know if ave got change, I tell her.

WELL OPEN YER TILL DEN! she says.

You’ll after queue, I say.

NOT KEE-OOH-IN JUST FER A BIT ER CHANGE
she leans over, jabbing at the buttons
COME ON JUST GIVE US
A COUPLE ER FIVERS WILL YER?

Ay, I smack at her claws
Stop messin with me till, will yer?

OI! this brick shithouse with an onion for a nose
charges over
DON’T BE BEIN STINGEY TER ME NAN, YOU
he smacks the back of my head
JUST OPEN YER FUCKIN TILL!

OK, I curl up in his shadow,
typing in the security code . . .

AY, DIS ISSEN FAIR, DIS
someone in queue points.
Not at them
at me.

YEAH an old man howls
FIRST COME FIRST SERVED
he waves his fist
at me.

The till drawer pings open.

YER’VE NOT GOT NONE
shithouse rummages through the coins with his gammon hands.
EE’S GOT NO FIVERS NAN!

WELL WHAT’S DER FUCKIN POINT DEN
nan spits
IF YER AVEN GOT IT?

COME ON NAN
he wraps a loving lumpy arm around her
EE’S A FUCKIN TIMEWASTER, EE IS
and they march out in disgust.

I resume serving the conveyor belt of scowling faces . . .

OUTER ORDER, DIS
they tell me as I bag up their shit

SHOULD BE ASHAMED, YOU

. . . they wait until
my ten minute break
to call me into the manager’s office:

YOU BIN LETTIN YER MATES JUMP THE QUEUE?
he says,
disciplinary form on his desk

and all I’m thinking is
god, I’d love a tenner, me.

Paul Tanner photo
Paul Tanner’s new book ‘Notes of A Pleb Vol. 4’ will be available soon and this poem’s from it.
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