I have neglected my ramblings for far too long. Again.....
As I write I’m perched on a stool behind a display of my boxes. I’m in the courtyard of Somerset House in the heart of London. Inside a purpose built pavilion which is the new home of the Chelsea Crafts Fair – now called Origin, the public are wandering by. Some pausing, some passing compliments and one or two actually getting out their cheque (or check if you’re reading this in America) books. Though today I have to say there have been very few of these cheque book moments. And I’m a bit bored. Quite a lot bored really, the gaps between the cheque book moments are too long and I’m just not very good at smooching the visitors. I’m not very good at small talk, somebody has just told me “your boxes are beautiful and clever” – all I could think to say was “thank you very much” – doesn’t really move the conversation along does it….In fact there’s somebody right now and I’m sure she’s trying to decide between one box and another but she doesn’t want to catch my eye so I don’t feel I should intrude. My attitude is that I’m here if she wants to talk or ask questions but if she doesn’t then that’s fine too. So right now I’m trying to look busy writing this and blending into the wall.
And now it’s tomorrow – or today depending on how you look at it. And not only did the lady yesterday make up her mind and buy a box but I sold another a few minutes later. So today I really must be more positive. I’m sure somehow that sitting behind my work with positive and optimistic thoughts makes people much more likely to buy boxes. Although quite why what goes on deep in my own brain should affect anything or anybody I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s all to do with aura. Maybe we’re all constantly sending and receiving signals on wave lengths we don’t even know exist. I’d better stop there I think.
So what else has been happening since I last hammered away on the keyboard – I wish I could hammer away. I’ve never mastered touch typing and really wish I could – but that’s another story.
I have a moral problem. A lady approached me after church and said – you make boxes don’t you. I want a box for a Christmas present for a friend of mine whose dog has died so would you make one for me, and perhaps put the dog's name on it too? The trouble is I’m absolutely certain she expects to pay about a quarter of the price of my cheapest box. Making something by hand to standards I aim for takes time, and time in the western world in which I live is expensive stuff. So do I knock her out a poor quality box as fast as I can and charge the sort of money she expects. – I don’t really want to do that because that puts something that’s not very good out there with my name on it. Or do I give her a realistic price which I think she would find horribly expensive. Or do I just treat it as a favour and make her something for what she can afford (or for nothing) and risk other people asking for the same? Surely I can’t means test my customers and charge what they can afford? At the time I was a coward and told her I’d have to think about it.
Slipping back into the present for the moment. It does annoy me when a group of friends meet in the isles of one of these shows and then settle down and stand with their backs to my stand and have a long and involved conversation effectively blocking my entire display. Gripe gripe moan moan. What happened to positive? Time for a cup of tea I think.
Somebody’s just stopped by who bought a box from me in 1994! And they’re still enjoying it and using it. I like hearing from them (the boxes that is); it’s as if they send me the odd Christmas card to let me know they’re well and happy………