20 May 2012

A very good morning to you all.

Penelope and I have been considering replacing some of our windows and French doors. One of the “problems” this house has is that it was built by a chap who then ran off with his secretary sometime before its completion. As a result, the doors and windows stood exposed to the elements for about three years before finally being protected with a coat of varnish and stain. As a consequence, several are in a sad state of repair, especially those on the south-facing elevation.

We had a kid come round a month or so ago offering free surveys and the like so we agreed to entertain a salesman who duly turned up and gave us his best shot. Unfortunately, we asked for the quote he produced in writing and a reference site so that we could actually go and look at the quality of installations they carried out. He disappeared promising faithfully to send all the information through and that was the last we heard of it.

Three or four weeks later we get a phone call from the firm explaining that they’d just been able to purchase the bankrupt stock from a former competitor and were now able to give us an even better quote! So, again, I invited them out to give us the details.

A week ago Friday afternoon the second window salesman arrived and started off in exactly the same vein as the first – “We are the best door, window and facia company in the world, we do 800 kajillion pounds worth of business every year, no one will be able to provide you with a cheaper quote,” etc., etc.

I explained what we were after and he began to give me the usual “our standard price on that would be” line. He got a bit miffed when I stopped him and explained that I wasn’t interested in the standard price, nor the price that he could let me have it for as a special favour today, nor the discounted price he could possibly squeeze out of his boss, nor the price he would give me when he eventually telephoned his boss. We’d been there, done that and seen the video last time round. What I wanted, I explained, was the best, cheapest price he was prepared to give us and we could save both of us some time by skipping straight to the bottom line.

At this point he got a bit huffy and stomped out to measure up. When that had been achieved he started scribbling on a piece of paper doing all kinds of very impressive calculations taking this discount from here and adding it there and subtracting a percentage from here and adding his inside leg measurement and eventually he came up with a price. When I said I wasn’t all that impressed you will be “surprised” to hear that he got on the phone to his boss and proceeded to come up with an even better price.

“Great”, I said. “Put these details in an e-mail and let me have details of some local properties where you’ve installed windows before so we can drive past and have a look.”

Nope, this is a once in a lifetime price valid only for the next twenty-two seconds. When I said that I was not prepared to do business that way he went off like a child who has thrown all his toys out of the pram. Mutter, mumble, waste of time, mutter, mutter.

I explained that this represented quite an investment, rather like buying a new car. I wouldn’t dream of spending 8 grand on a new car without test driving it, seeing what other suppliers would offer for a similar price, etc. I may not even end up buying the cheapest car but I’m certainly not prepared to hand over that sum of money to the first used car salesman I see who happens to claim  that he is the best and cheapest without any verification that he can actually provide a car comparable to the others. Huff, puff, mutter, mumble, slamming of brief case and storming out. In many ways, very amusing.

We had a nice evening out on Tuesday – we visited Towcester Library, one of the few still open after the government cut almost all the funding previously allocated to libraries and other public amenities. The occasion was an Author’s Evening and the author in question was our own friend and neighbour, Pete Taylor who was to give a chat and some readings from his book Brit in the Ballpark. And a very good job he did too. Most of those who attended were prospective authors in their own right and they all admitted to feeling somewhat queasy when Pete said that the first publisher to whom he had sent his manuscript had picked it up and published it.

Pete Taylor

As a great fan of sandwiches, I was pleased to discover that this is the 250th anniversary of the “invention” of the sandwich by one Lord Sandwich. I guess you all know the legend – he was playing cards and felt a bit peckish but couldn’t bear to leave the game. So he asked for some beef to be served between two slices of bread so he could eat and play cards at the same time. If you are feeling particularly knowledgeable this morning you can try this Quiz on Sandwiches from the BBC site.

And, while I’m at it I think I’ll have a cup of coffee with that sandwich. I ran across an article in the LA Times with the promising headline:

Coffee linked to lower risk of death

and it went on:

A study finds that older adults who drink java are less likely to die than those who don’t. Subjects who averaged four or five cups per day fared best, though it’s not clear why.

So, as well as red wine being good for your heart, it now seems that drinking coffee means you have a “lower risk of death.” There is a short video clip on the site as well as the article explaining it all but I did have to laugh – ultimately, of course, the risk of death is 100% and no amount of coffee consumption is going to alter that, I’m afraid.

Still, make mine a double espresso skinny mocha!

Finally, I had to share the following photo of Molly which I took the other day as she was waiting patiently for her best friend and companion to return. Of course, that best friend and companion is neither Ms Playchute nor me but Penny’s sister J.

Molly waiting for J

Love to you all,



2 thoughts on “20 May 2012”

    1. Dear Greg and Penny,
      Somehow I missed reading your “Befouled Weakley” of 5/22. Sounds like some of my experiences with repairing the White House at Lake George. I fell for the speal (sp.?) once, got a bunch of incompetents to fix the roof. As expected, lousy job, and had to have the whole roof redone about five years later. Ouch!
      Send me an Email sometime telling me what you and the U.K. are experiencing with the austerity program. I am pretty sure it is coming for good old “rich” US. We are so damn spoiled in our country. I personally don’t like thr Republican approach, but some of their proposed cuts are like yours-libraries, the Arts, and benefits for the poor or recent immigrants. Is Great Britian taxing the rich? Such a measure would help some to pay for the government costs, but is not the whole answer. Bunny

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