What will they make of this in China?

I’m fond of sheds, and I tend an allotment. My favourite sheds are corrugated iron. It rots so colourfully.Yesterday we had a rare day of winter sunshine and I ventured out to the plot for a quick check on my rhubarb. My one half-succesful broccoli plant had decided to seceretly sprout some lovely heads for me to pick and I dug out some very strange looking parsnips plus one of my favourite vegetables, a celeraic. Rhubarb was slowly growing well. So the garden is producing things even in winter.

I noticed that the national papers were full of headlines about the shortage of lettuce that is imminent. Front page news! Apparently there has been very cold weather in Spain where most of our icebergs come from. Global warming? Icebergs ruined in Spain. We should be told.

I also noticed yesterday that when I opened my stats for the views of my page, the screen went red. Someone from China has been looking at my blog. Not for the first time I might add, and it might be the same person looking again, but I got unreasonably excited by this some months ago and when I told my son the exciting news he simply muttered : “Just the one Dad?”

So here are the visual results of my short time on the plot yesreday. Works of art in corrugated iron and wood:


Still life with hose


Circle lines


Study in wood and tin


Cat’s eyes


Untitled Number 3


You’re looking well, have you lost weight?


We’re all selling something, some of us without really realising it. Some have made a living out of it, myself included. I was employed, later in life ( I’m quite late now ) to sell print. I loved it and I made a lot of friends and the occasional enemy. Having been a professional cartoonist for most of my ‘so-called’ adult life, it was strange to enter a world where things were serious. Unlike the very best salespeople I took with me the idea that I only wanted to work for people I liked. Which in fairness was most people.There were one or two things that really did get up my nose, the people who were interupted by their mobiles and took the calls saying that they would only be a few minutes while they “sorted the printers out” ( as if we were a minor problemn with the drains ).

The young couple who came in to discuss thier wedding invite and ended up having a row in reception was not a great experience, they were not the perfect match. The chap who wanted to change his small company logo from a charming little illustrated logo to a nonsensical back of the envelope ‘symbol’ was one time I did lose control of my supressed opinion and after a tiring day just said to him, very loudly. ” WHAT? YOU WANT TO CHANGE THAT TO THAT? ¬†YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!” It was not my place to voice an opinion, and a quiet word by him to head office made sure we did not have to deal with each other again. We were lucky not to lose the account.

I developed a subtle language of my own when dealing with opinions about work we were to print. If I thought it was good I’d say so, if it was less than good I’d say it was interesting. If it was crap I’d say it was really interesting. If it was absolute crap, I’d simply mutter ” very curious”or “fascinating”. It meant I kept my self respect without losing paying customers.

And then there are colours. I’m apparently red green colour blind. That does not mean I cannot see red and green, but subtle versions of the colours can be tricky. I’ll see a dark green as black and if then told that it is a very dark shade of green will see it as such. It’s not really got in the way of either of my ‘so-called’ careers. Customers coming to the printers could be very particular about colour and some were positively evangelical about it. The phrase: ” It looks nothing like the colour on my screen” became a familiar refrain no matter how many times we told them that screen colours and print colours were just not the same.

The best bit of sales is getting it right. That may sound like one of those dreadful self help books that seem to do so well the days, but in this particular case it’s right. Getting it right is seeing the customer happy with the result. And if I’m to pass on a few of my hints when selling it is to be interested in the customer, say how well they are looking and ask them if they have lost weight. Flattery will get you everywhere.