The Fastest Jelly Baby Diversity Co-Ordinator In The West (Midlands)
Plectrum Bivalve once seemed destined for no great things until one day when she found herself working part-time as a jelly baby diversity co-ordinator in the darkest depths of the Tipton urban jungle where the jelly babies were sold loose, running wild and free with little concern as to whether there were equal numbers of the different colours adequately represented in each individual weighing, unlike the more regulated pre-packed jelly babies that were a familiar – and no doubt reassuring – feature of everyone else’s retail experience.
But such was the anarchic nature of Tipton, home of the pork scratching and all the lawlessness that that entailed, as a frontier boom town where the men were men and the women were sometimes men too, especially in the darker and more secluded canal-side regions.
Others had come before Bivalve to try to bring law and order to the Tipton jelly baby racket, but they had all come to a very sticky end – which is often the case with jelly babies – but Bivalve knew she was different…
The leader of the gang that controlled the unregulated jelly baby racket was one Isosceles Hypotenuse, a notoriously villainous sweet shop magnate with the fastest sweet-weighing scales in the West Midlands, and – it was rumoured - an ability to twist the top of those little paper sweetie bags shut with either his left or right hand, and often both together. It was said he could guess which sweets – and, uncannily, in what amounts - a person would request from just the way they walked into his sweet shop.
Everyone said Bivalve was a fool to go up against Hypotenuse, especially when it was rumoured that Jelly Baby Diversity Co-ordinators would be amongst the first to go under the new government’s cost cutting measures, but Bivalve believed in justice and the equitable distribution of colours and flavours in everyone’s jelly baby-eating experience, regardless of social status or educational attainment.
It was high noon when Bivalve set off down the street towards Hypotenuse’s sweet shop. The street was deserted (well, it was Tipton and the pubs were open) as she walked down along the pavement, her jelly baby co-ordinating spurs chinking with each step.
She paused at the door to the Sweet Shop, hearing the doors and windows of the nearby buildings slamming shut all around her. Bivalve swallowed and pushed the door open, flinching as the bell rang.
‘Yes? Can I help you?’ Hypotenuse said warily, his hands hovering over his weighting scales.
Bivalve looked him in the eye, unblinking. ‘I’d like a quarter of jelly babies please.’
The other customers in the shop all took a rapid intake of breath and began to back away from the counter, their eyes nervously flicking from Bivalve to Hypotenuse and back again.
Slowly, carefully, while never taking his eyes from Bivalve’s, Hypotenuse reached for the jar of jelly babies from the counter. Slowly he shook out the required amount into the pan on his scales.
Before Hypotenuse could reach for his paper sweetie bags, in a move faster than the eye could see, Bivalve whipped out her clipboard.
‘Hold it right there,’ she said. ‘This pen is full of ink and I’m quite prepared to fill out the 'Any Other Comments' box on this form if you make any sudden movements. Back away from the scales… and remember I’m quite prepared to write something down.’
With the sweat pouring down his face, Hypotenuse looked around at the other customers in his shop, but they were all suddenly very interested in the jars of sweets he kept on the top shelf for his special customers, and none of them would meet his eye. He gulped, raised his hands and backed away from the scales until his back was pressed up against a box of liquorice laces.
Watching Hypotenuse for any sudden movements, Bivalve stepped up to the scales, and began to check the jelly babies slowly and carefully, one by one.
The whole shop was silent, no one dared move or even breathe too much as Bivalve checked the jelly babies.
Eventually she stopped, made several entries on her clipboard and looked up at Hypotenuse, who seemed to wilt under her steely gaze.
‘You do realise that – contrary to the legislation passed by the previous Labour Government – you have attempted to sell me a quarter of jelly babies that do not meet the equality guidelines set out in that legislation? For example, there are seven yellow jelly babies, four green ones, twelve black ones, but only three red ones.’ She sighed and poured the jelly babies from the scales into an evidence bag along with the sheet from her clipboard. ‘I’m going to have to ask you to accompany me to the re-education facility.’
‘It’s a fair cop,’ Hypotenuse said, holding out his hands for Bivalve to cuff him. ‘But I blame the recession, which started in America.’
Bivalve smiled for the first time since entering the shop. ‘Nice try, Hypotenuse, but that sort of excuse won’t work, not with this new government. You’re nicked, sonny.’