суббота, 15 сентября 2012 г.

City View: Why I was pasta caring about three leather coats. - The Birmingham Post (England)

I was on my way to work, walking to the bus stop, when the car pulled up and the driver motioned me across.

No doubt another visitor to Birmingham who had got himself completely lost. But it wasn't that at all - I was in for a great sales pitch.

I am pretty blase about sales pitches these days - they come my way every day of the week. I can normally pick a pig in a poke in about the first sentence.

And although this proved no different it was played out with masterly assurance.

Having always been hopeless at selling anything to anyone, I have a certain admiration for the wide boys.

It is a definite skill, you have to have the skin of a rhinoceros, inexhaustible brass-neck, supreme confidence and be able to talk the hind legs off a donkey.

Years ago when I was learning to be a journalist in Newcastle, I was lodging with a typical Geordie family.

The son was a salesman and he used to give us a lift into the centre in the morning.

His patter was brilliant, he could sell sand to the Arabs and the technique extended to his personal life too. He was adept at pulling women.

I never did get terribly good at pulling women but I did admire the technique.

But I digress.

So, anyway, there I was at the side of the road in Moseley as the driver wound down his window.

His opening gambit was to ask whether I spoke any Italian.

Ee waz from Italy and he deed not speek the English so well.

He was dark, up-market spivvy and slightly greasy - so it sounded plausible. I explained that, no, I was afraid I did no speako Italiano.

His next pitch was the puln.

The story was that he had been attending a clothes show at the National Exhibition Centre, had some Armani jackets it was not worth his while to take back to Italy and he had enjoyed England so much he had decided to make a gift of them to the first Engl ishman who happened by in honour of Birmingham.

My reaction was of wry amusement although I did not let him see it. It all seemed very unlikely. But then there was no point in looking a gift horse in the mouth if that was really what it was.

Perhaps this was my lucky day.

I glanced at my watch. Oh well, might as well get the later bus.

I let him carry on.

Look at the quality of this jacket. He showed me the exquisite cut of the leather jacket.

This eez for you, no charge.

Well, thanks very much, I told him.

This was definitely too good to be true. But the whole thing now needed an ending so I continued to play along.

I did not tell him I was a journalist and I did not tell him that despite the jacket's obvious quality and Italian styling he was basically putting all this to the wrong guy.

Long ago I discovered that clothes and me don't get on. Fashion and John Duckers are about as soul mate-ish as Ron Atkinson and Doug Ellis.

All clothes on me look like potato sacks and I have never made any effort to change this image. Indeed I rather cultivate the down at heel look. I have no interest in clothes other than to keep me warm in winter and to cover my vitals in summer.

My Italian was talking to the fashion world's Neanderthal.

He showed me a second Armani jacket as high quality as the first. This was for me also, no charge.

And finally he showed me the third Armani jacket which could also be mine. But seeing he had given me two jackets free there would be the small charge of 8,400 for this one.

Ah, we had finally come to the catch.

I didn't even bother asking what denomination he was talking, although I assumed it wasn't lire. Were it lire I would have got three Armani leather jackets for pounds 3.

As I had precisely pounds 5.37 on me at the time I would even have had change from the deal.

I thanked him with a smile, explained it really wasn't for me, we shook hands, and departed as friends.

Did I miss out on the greatest deal of all time? I think not.

But it had been an amusing ten minutes even if it only confirmed the old motto that you never get anything for free in this life.

And it was a good effort by the lad.

He was driving a sports car, he was well dressed, he had what looked like the pukka merchandise and he had the patter.

For all I know he was probably in reality a waiter in an Italian restaurant in Solihull but the boy will go far.

The Del Trotter of Milano.