By Leppy Pardalis
Waterstones is encouraging customers to continue wearing face coverings in its bookshops once the legal covid requirement ends on 19 July.
However, it has issued a reassurance that the farting, whistling, sniffing and other behaviours to which many a customer is treated by fellow shoppers can continue as always.
A spokesperson said: “Obviously, the main reasons why customers come to our shops are the sheer joy of browsing the shelves and waiting for something to seize their imagination, the relaxing atmosphere unique to all decent bookshops and the chance to mingle with other book lovers and be served by one.
“Oh, and of course, the chance to buy a book while secure in the knowledge that you’re not supporting some horrible business which runs its staff around warehouses like tortured rats in a maze.
“However, there are certain other aspects of the live bookshop experience that we’re anxious to preserve - pandemic or not.
“That’s why we’re sending a message to anybody who enjoys dropping silent but deadly eyeball-cracking farts as they sidle past the popular science section.
“It’s why we’re sending a message to those old blokes who often stand nearby and quietly whistle unidentifiable tunes through their teeth when you’re browsing the manga, the local history or whatever.
“It’s why we’re sending a message to those people with a chronic sniff that sounds like one of those corporation wagons sent to suck blockages out of drains, except louder.
“It’s why we’re sending a message to hipster blokes with daft beards who stand there, ostentatiously reading a book on attentive childcare, while their unfettered toddler heads for the door and has to be intercepted by a member of staff with the reflexes of a coffee-addicted cat.
“And that message is: We need you and we love you - and so do your fellow customers.”
The spokesperson added: “The same goes for the people who come to our counters and tell staff, ‘I’m looking for a book - I can’t remember the title or the author but the cover is blue or green or orange.’”