A village shop keeper sat dead at his till for six years before anyone noticed, it has emerged.
Terence Todd was still upright with a magazine open in from of him, while his trusty wireless was still broadcasting BBC Radio Suffolk.
Mr Todd, 72, was discovered by Sean Francis, who was visiting Little Brimmer, near Bury St Edmunds on business. He said the only pulse he could find was a 250g bag of red lentils in the food section.
Examinations of the body showed that Mr Todd had been dead for over six years, apparently having suffered from terminal loneliness.
Local villagers claimed they were very upset by the news – despite having not bothered to support Little Brimmer General Stores in a decade, preferring instead to shop at nearby out-of-town supermarkets.
A shocked Mr Francis, 33, told the Suffolk Gazette how he found the body on Friday afternoon.
He said: “I noticed instantly that something was wrong and called for help as soon as I got there,” although CCTV footage actually showed he failed to realise the cashier was dead for eight minutes, browsing the shop and even attempting to engage Mr Todd in conversation.
“I rang for an ambulance. Looking back, I’m not sure why. They weren’t really able to do anything for him.”
A weekend stock-take showed that the general store’s goods had not been replaced for six years. Newspapers on the shop shelves were datelined 1st November, 2011.
“I did wonder why all the headlines were about David Cameron,” said Francis, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. “And there was a funny smell, but sometimes you get funny smells in little village shops.
“I thought maybe some of the food was stale – instead it was poor Mr Todd who had passed his expiry date.”
Mr Todd’s death has led to an outpouring of grief from fellow villagers, despite the fact that none of them crossed his shop’s threshold for the better part of a decade.
“Our village needs its local shop,” said Martha Langham, 42. “It’s the centre of the community, a vital institution.”
When asked when she had last visited the shop, Langham said she couldn’t remember, “Although I recall we had a conversation about John Major.”
“I once bought some vegetarian sausages from the shop in 1998,” said fellow resident Leanne Cresswell, 42. “They were quite good. A little overpriced, perhaps. Oh, it’s so sad that he’s gone.”
Mr Todd’s funeral will take place next week, and Sean Francis, from Newmarket, has promised to attend. “I may as well,” he sighed. “After all, it would be terrible if nobody turned up.”