The Awkward Girl's Guide to The Village
This ain't Hollywood, this is a small town
I’m going to call the village Direbury.
That’s not its real name, obviously: I got it from one of those online name generators I use when I’m writing my books (Alternative suggestions: Grimebreak; Curseguard; Snakevale; Roguemere…), so I can pretend it’s a town in a Lucy Score novel, say, where everyone has a weird, made-up name, and is almost freakishly attractive.
OK, maybe not that last bit.
The first thing you need to know about the village is that it’s a beautiful wee village.
The second thing you need to know is that this is not true; it’s just something the villagers of Direbury always say to each other to detract from the fact that Direbury is basically just a wide space in the road, and most people probably don’t even notice it as they drive through.
“This is a beautiful wee village,” though, begins every second post in the Facebook group. “But if people could just stop letting their dogs poop everywhere/walking past my house/ having sex in front of the window1, then that would be even better…”
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Terry and I moved to Direbury about ten years ago, and for the first few years we had very little involvement with the life of the village because, much to my disappointment (And yours too, once you realise how much this post is about to go downhill) , it is not in fact a village from a romcom, so there was no struggling bookshop or florist for us to rescue with our city-slicker ways, for instance, and not even a cosy pub where we could get to know quaint characters, like a man with a pet sheep, say, or a tall, brooding stranger who would later turn out to be a secret billionaire.
No, other than the school/community centre (Yes, it’s one building for both) all Direbruy had was a Post Office, a chip shop, and a convenience store, which I immediately dubbed The Inconvenience Store, on account if it never actually having any of the things I wanted to buy.
The Post Office was the first to go.
This was actually good news for the villagers, because the Post Office was run by People Who Hated People, and who also hated sending mail, and that was quite a bad combination for a postal service, really. So it was closed down, and a Post Office counter was opened up in the Inconvenience Store2 instead.
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Unlike the OG Post Office, the Inconvenience Store didn’t have a half-day on Wednesdays or close for an hour every day for lunch, but it did work according to 1950s rules in all other respects — as I discovered the first time I went in there, to find a customer at the counter who was doing this thing where she asked for each item individually, and then either the man behind the counter went and fetched it for her, or he told her where it was, and she went and got it herself. So she’d be all, “Do you have any beans?” and he’d say, “Yeah, in the corner next to the milk,” then she’d go and get them, come back and go, “Do you have cheese?” and so it would go on.
I waited patiently for something like 5 hours, then finally the woman got to the last item on her list, which was coleslaw.
“Do you have any coleslaw?” she asked.
“No,” said the shopkeeper. “I have some salad cream, though.”
At this, the woman reeled backwards in horror. Like, she LITERALLY reeled backwards in horror.
“SALAD CREAM?” she said, horrified. “I don’t want f*****g SALAD CREAM! I make my own dressings from scratch, I’ll have you know! Because I’m not THAT c*****g lazy!”
And that was how I met Villette.