How to escape from a crappy little gift shop selling overpriced shite without buying anything

WANDERED into a curious little shop only to realise it sells nothing worth buying, you’re alone and the proprietor is staring at you? Here’s how to politely free yourself: 

Never speak to the owner

Even a courteous hello to the owner of a tat emporium locks you into a sympathy purchase. Blank them at every turn. Never meet their eye; even a glance will convey  how desperate they are and how badly their business is failing. Next you’re leaving with their surplus stock of pewter dragon statues and seaglass jewellery.

Never touch anything

Proper shops operate a ‘you break it, you bought it’ policy. Tiny shops selling nothing anyone could ever want demand that you buy whatever you picked up to inspect out of morbid curiosity. And now you’re going home with a little glass jar with layers of coloured sand in it that cost £17.

Act like you’re lost

After the tinkling entrance bell fades to oppressive silence and rows of dusty knick-knacks, loudly declare ‘this isn’t the pub I imagined it to be’ and walk out, backwards, staring straight ahead. Will the owner would believe you thought a gift shop was a pub? Well, he believed selling crap was a viable business, so why not?

Claim you’ve left your wallet at home

You wish you could buy a dreamcatcher and a gigantic retro box of matches, you really do, but you’ve only gone and left your wallet in your car and your car in your garage and your garage in another city. What terrible luck. ‘Maybe another day,’ you say, ignorant that the proprietor will cling to those words and long await your promised return.

Pretend to die

If you’re unlucky enough to have been cornered while browsing shelves of laser-etched driftwood, fake a cardiac arrest. Lie motionless while waiting for the ambulance even if it takes four hours. The paramedics won’t be mad. They’ve been there, they’ll understand.

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Not all renters smoke weed or are in gangs, though I am and so are all my mates

AS A working professional renting in zone three of London, I can confirm that not every renter smokes weed or is in a gang. Though obviously I do both. 

Housing minister Rachel Maclean was absolutely right to point out that there are renters who’ve never touched, much less dealt skunk, and who have no affiliations to postcode crews. Not me, but they are out there.

Yes, it’s come to seem normal for someone like myself, a trainee corporate lawyer, and my boyfriend Hugh who’s in B2B marketing, to be in a gang. To spend our evenings on the corner, listening to drill, watching for any f**ker who tries to take these streets off us.

In many cases it comes with the rental. Jocasta, my pal who works in publishing, was told when she signed the lease that cocaine wholesaling was a condition of the tenancy. Most adverts say ‘No pets, no universal credit, must smoke skunk’ upfront.

But for every ten of us who balance a career in finance with roaming the streets mashed out of our middle-class minds wielding machetes, there’s one renter who doesn’t. Statistically.

Why, some of us, like the housing minister’s children, are even Conservative voters. As my old housemate Hugh, a TV director and crack addict who killed a man and threw his body in the Thames, renting doesn’t make you a liberal!

So I think it’s marvellous that minister is willing to stand up for the minority of decent, hard-working tenants who don’t smash limbs with baseball bats to earn enough credit for their next quarter-ounce. They need representation too.

But renting? And not being in a gang, high on cannabis, coming out of a crack den to smash up the neighbourhood? You might as well get a mortgage.