Each was about five foot tall and four foot wide and swathed in velvet drapes, sequined scarves and those elderly dun coloured coats. Mehmet looked up, made a noise of apology and shot back into the shop. I followed him in to see an extraordinary scene.
Mehmet’s 15 year old son had been cornered by two of the women who were rattling imprecations and complaints at him; whilst the other four had split up. Each pair worked as a team as one had a large grey-pink plastic washing bowls, already overflowing like gutter cornucopia, whilst the other shoveled in tins, and plastic oddments.
Mehmet stood, blocking the door and called out,
“So you are going to pay for all that?”Instantly the four without bowls turned on him and crowding him poured forth a torrent of invective. Meanwhile the two with bowls dumped the spoils on the floor behind a great heap of figs and dates and, as if at a command all six swept out of the shop acting in concert like a Spithead review.
As Mehmet stood their breathing deeply I noted that the whole thing had taken less than two minutes.
Interestingly, when he had caught his breath and calmed down his son he blamed EU enlargement for the problem. “When it was just France, Germany, Belgium Holland, there were no problems, but now it happens all the time”, he told me. “We should never have let the Bulgarians and Romanians in, all those Roma, its impossible to run a business these days”.