Harold stomped into the large kitchen at the back of the shop, snatched the kettle from its base and filled it, the tap turned so forcefully that water hit the heating element at the bottom and splashed out again, soaking his red silk smoking jacket. Not that he smoked.
"Dare I ask why you're acting like a bent spoon?" Jasfoup put down the Gospel of St. Lucian of the Rabbits he was editing for a friend in AD67. "It's either your chess game with Harry, your daughter's school making a complaint or the council changing the regulations again."
Harold grunted, extracting a letter from his pocket and tossing it on the table. "Good guess." He thumped the switch on the kettle to encourage it to boil faster. "The council wants me to jump through a few hoops to gain accreditation for the Laverstone Good Shopping Guide. Pathetic. It's like a machine, churning out new rules every month."
"And if we don;t?"
"They put us on a higher rate of business tax and blacklist us from council services. Our bins won't be emptied, the police will ignore our calls and the fire service will expect backhanders to come out to a fire."
"We're an antique bookshop. It can't be that difficult to comply." Jasfoup opened the letter. "Employ a minimum of three people? We do that."
"Technically, you're a demon and the imps are, well, imps. According to the council we only employ Julie."
"We can get around that." Jasfoup looked at the letter again. "Two. Have a turnover of at least twenty thousand pounds per annum. We do that, too. Some of our books are worth more than that on their own. We even declare some of the sales."
"It's the third condition that'll kill us." Harold hung his head and sighed.
"Three. Be open to the public." The demons face fell.
Harold's face looked like the Sunken Pit of Despair where members of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints were left until their smiles rotted off. "See what I mean."
"Indeed." Jasfoup nodded. "We're doomed."