Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Brave New World - Tuesday


Doorstep introduction over, I follow a late-middle aged man in to his lounge, furtively looking for mutual interests to discuss. The guy is in pretty bad shape. Saggy paunch protruding like an unlikely pregnancy from his sensible jumper, few remaining head hairs a washed out grey, and podgy face sporting more chins than a Chinese phone book. Then I spot his record collection.

As I switch to sales patter autopilot, mind trying to stay focused on the likely conversation combinations several steps ahead, I realise with a start that The Clash, The Sex Pistols and a full set of The Jam albums on vinyl, means he can’t be that much older than me.

Now a canny salesman wants to deflect the obvious reason you are in someone’s house until he can build a rapport, no matter how much of an illusion it might be. So you look for non-threatening discussion areas. I’ve lost count of the number of pug-ugly babies I’ve cooed over and how many furball cats and dogs I’ve stroked, despite my pet hair allergy.

The chat about how Johnny Rotten sold out to dairy product television adverts soon peters out uncomfortably and I sense I’m losing him.
‘So do you buy much music nowadays?’ I probe desperately, nodding towards the anachronistic LP sleeves and his ancient turntable.
‘Not really,’ he replies brightening and nodding towards an open laptop, screen saver scrolling gently. ‘You can get all the music you want for nothing.’

My heart sinks a little. I know I’m here on a free no obligation valuation, but ultimately I want to charge a fee. Want to pay for my mortgage, just as my company needs to cover my salary, car, the premises, rates etc. If nobody is prepared to pay for a service or product any longer, capitalism is in more trouble than it already is. Then I spot his Amazon Kindle nestling alongside the laptop, USB connector attached, power slowly feeding in. I have to ask.

‘How are you getting on with the Kindle?’ It’s an easy in and he starts to eulogise the benefits of the slim, tactile piece of kit I also have. The same one I’ve used to take my first faltering publishing steps on. The one that I hope people might download my writing to, for a modest price. But I’ve forgotten human nature, despite all my years of experience.

‘I’m loading all the free, out of royalty books,’ enthuses the man. ‘Can’t quite believe you can get something for nothing.’ You can’t, I want to scream. The authors are dead, and if you don’t get your hand out of your pocket and cough sooner or later, there’ll be no new music and no new writing – and no more free no obligation, no point in coming, home valuations. Twat.

Of course I can’t tell him. Insulting owners in their own home is something you only do in your own head, then at best you can slander them in the safety of the office, or perhaps libel them in an insider’s Blog. Then he throws me.

‘You downloaded anything other than old classics?’ He asks leadingly. ‘I’d kind of like to have some more up to date reading but I’m not paying silly money.’ And self-destructively I ache to let him know about a modestly priced compilation he could have on his machine in under a minute. Of course I can’t, not whilst remaining anonymous.

There ought to be a secret handshake like those Freemasons keep giving me. Or some other sign you could use that doesn’t involve tattoos or body piercing. Instead I mention a Stephen Fry book I’ve just bought - and lose him.

‘Can’t stand the man.’ He states brutally as I decide not to mention my Twitter addiction. ‘Anyway,’ switches the potential client coldly. ‘This valuation isn’t going to cost me anything is it?’

‘You read much? I ask trainee F, back at the office.
‘Never actually finished a book.’ He states, seemingly without irony as his mobile phone bleeps urgently.
‘What about you?’ I ask assistant manager T.
‘More a music man,’ he answers. ‘Get it all for nothing on Spotify’

Just as well I didn’t buy that guitar.

4 comments:

Hotairmail said...

I like your blog....but would I pay for it? ;)


(just to give you encouragement, I would consider buying a compilation for someone else for Christmas)

Carruthers said...

Hotairmail has hit on the salvation of DVds, CDs etc.

I've lost track of the number of DVDs I've bought for other people. I've tried to stay thrifty for my own buying, but come Christmas I lash out on DVDs for other people. I buy things I think they might like, things I think they ought to have, things which will at least convey that I've thought about the sort of things they've expressed a mild interest in.

My Amazon bill mounts alarmingly with lots of things which I have bought which may never be watched - or read. This would balance the things I would download for nothing, if only they were available, or I had faster broadband.

Mind you I've just bought a Kindle, and there's ever so much stuff you can get for free. Some classics you get very cheaply, and some of them I even wanted to read.

And then there's all those free samples ...

The authors of the free samples can take some comfort in this thought, however. If you like the free sample it's fatally easy to press the "buy this book" button and all the rest just pops on to your bill at the end of the month.

So I might just buy a few.

Anonymous said...

cracking post this.

Anonymous said...

Might have to start charging for the blog!...don't take this seriously please!