Tuesday, March 02, 2010
cheers, scam, clank
This piece of detritus needs no caption.
Extravagant personalities are often rewarding company, even when they are obvious rogues. As I am walking down Mount Sion this sunny afternoon, a Mercedes draws us to the curb. Behind the wheel is a laughing, black face. The driver lowers the window to talk to me across the empty passenger seat. He is still laughing. "Do you know anything about watches?" he says. "Mercedes Benz are giving away Rolex watches. I work for Mercedes Benz in Sevenoaks. Look!" He hands me a watch with Rolex on the dial. "It's scratch resistant glass," he says. It has an unlikely label on it, indicating a price of £475.00. "I've been selling them, " he says. "Look at all this money." He waves wads of notes at me. And continues to laugh. " How much money have you got on you?" he asks. I say: "I don't want a watch." "You sound quite posh," he says; "What do you do?" "Not much," I say. "How much money have you got on you?" he persists. "About 10p," I say, "and I don't want a watch. He laughs, but this time with less false hilarity. "Well," he says, "It's been nice talking to you". I reply in like manner: "I've enjoyed our talk," I say. And I have: it's not often that I meet a laughing salesman of fake watches, dishing out his wares through a car window; and certainly not on the peaceful, brick pavement of Mount Sion.
We are sitting outside The Compasses in the sun, when a woman passes carrying an orange, plastic bag in each hand. The bags are full of bottles. The bottles clank merrily as she goes. They promise a celebration. And why not? Spring is on the way.
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We had a pleasant experience giving way at the special pregnant-and-disabled checkout in the supermarket to a very merry couple visibly expecting their first child, whose trolley-load mostly consisted of nappies and Champagne. The chap was very keen to practise his English on us, and their cheerfulness and excitement was infectious. I suppose the nappies could be packed around the Champagne bottles to stop them clanking.
I think I might have found the laughing watch salesman slightly alarming, but you have an enviable knack of getting the most from these situations. In fact you positively seem to attract them. The Mittel-European gallery curator with the Anne Boleyn obsession comes to mind...
Unless they were empty and she was on her way to the bottle bank.
Faced with the laughing salesman I fear I would have shrunk into my Englishness, turned down the nearest street or walked back whence I had come. Unless I was encouraged to re-ignite the dying embers of my former profession and to start asking questions. You didn't say how you reacted to the observation that you sounded posh.
Merriment is good for you. I like the idea of Champagne bolstered by nappies.
BB. The bottle were full. You could tell by the way she walked that the bags were heavy. And, then the bottles clanked. If they had been empty, they would have tinkled. Again, she was walking away from the nearest bottle bank.
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