Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Shop Girl Shows Up

Every year we go to Birmingham for the Light Show.
Every year we say we’ll go early.
“Leave at nine?” Mum suggests the night before.
“Yeah, at the latest,” I agree.
I wake up at 8.51. Plenty of time.
We’re still in our pyjamas at ten, eating toast and registering our tickets for the show.
“Oops, I’ve put you were born in 1951,” Mum says.
My name badge says I’m the Manager.
It also says I’m the Designer/Specifier.
“What does that even mean?”
“It means you specify what you want,” Mum says.
So could I ask for a tortoise lamp shade with my name on it?”
No I don’t think so.
Could I ask for a chandelier covered in purple sequins?
I can’t specify anything really.
We arrive at lunchtime and meet up with some fellow shopkeepers.
They are a team of mother and son who are clearly keener retailers than us having arrived at the same time as I got up.
“So what sells best then?” I ask the son, later in the day.
He hesitates, smiling a little nervously.
“Come on, our shops are on different sides of the country!” I say.
He mumbles something about ‘trade secrets’.
I’m baffled. We’re about as threatening as Woolworths.
He offers some information a little reluctantly and Mum and I trundle off to the suggested wholesalers where we succumb to a free glass of wine.
At one point the rep tries to top up our glass.
“No,” I say, “Or we might buy the whole lot.”
He looks hopeful and hovers nearby with the rest of the bottle.
I suppose I understand why the son might’ve felt a need to be secretive.
To the naked eye, we appear to be just small time shopkeepers.
Aah but we are so much more.
The trouble is I never know who should know what.
So when we are called over by the friendly son and mother, to the stand of a major distributer who we’re probably the only people who don’t buy from, I feel a little apprehensive.
Are we their competition? Do they know my dad? Has my dad copied their lights or have they copied us?
“This girl is very clever!” the mother gushes to one of the company owners. “You should read what she writes about all this.”
“It’s a blog,” I say.
At which point my Mum develops a twitch.
Have I said too much?
A rep from the same company sits down beside me.
“Oh yes? So who are you then?” he ask, cheerfully.
“In what sense?” I say. “I am many things.”
He looks at me like I’m an idiot.
“Your name,” he says.
It’s hardly a secret; it’s hanging around my neck.
I am Miss Emily Benet, Manager, Designer and Specifier.
If he’s impressed, he doesn’t show it.
A few moments later he gets up and wonders off.
I throw caution to the wind and take one of their free sweets.


Piera Lizzeri said...

we all love a free sweet....its your guilty little secret

Simon Houldsworth said...

You didn't mention your incredibly expensive feta salad! The following day I presented my £2 off voucher to the same lady that had given it to us. I had waited until after 3pm and was feeling faint with hunger. Unfortunately for me she wouldn't accept it because she said that it was only valid on the day it was issued! Needless to say I remained hungry and the feta salad was probably consigned to the bin.

Keep up the writing - I love it

Moira said...

This is fabulous Emily. I've just read them all, something odd about reading backwards. But I was entranced and look forward to more.
Is there anyway to notify you've added a new blog.
Keep on going you gorgeous girl. It really was a joy! mx

Auntie Keri said...

I've just caught up with your last four blogs (apologies!). There were at least six laugh out loud moments-what an achievement! Thank you for 10 minutes of quality entertainment. See you Friday.