Wednesday, 24 April 2013

By Appointment


A couple of years ago, I was sitting around having lunch with some work colleagues, when my phone rang. According to our protocol, when one's mobile phone goes off when one is sitting around with others at lunch, you may answer it as you stand up to move away, but you must move away for fear of disrupting whatever conversation was taking place before it rang. I wish everyone else followed the same rules, especially in pubs and trains.

Normally, the others just get on with whatever they are talking about and ignore the person on the phone, but on this day there must either have been a lull in conversation, or they were just bored with the topic, because they strained to listen to me from the other side of the room.

After a brief preamble, they heard me say, "I don't think I have the time to do it," and they all fell about laughing. They laughed so loud that my client on the other end of the call actually heard them and asked me what the joke was.

I passed quickly over the explanation, because what had caused them so much spontaneous mirth was the notion that I - of all people - did not have the time to do something. I who turn up to work and hour after everyone else and leave an hour before everyone else as well. They also thought it funny that I could actually afford to turn down work too, knowing that my laziness was the cause of my sporadic poverty, despite the huge amount of money I charge for doing the simplest of things.

But their laughter was a wake-up call for me, and I eventually agreed to do the work, even though it had a dreaded dead-line attached to it. It was the dead-line which had put me off at the start - I never normally take on a job with a dead-line, especially one coming up as quickly as this one.

When I went back to my mates after the call was finished, I managed to make them laugh all over again by telling them what the job entailed, and why I had eventually agreed to finish it within a matter of days by dropping everything else I was working on at the time. In the event, I brought in my glamorous assistant, so I didn't have to.

The call was from an antique-dealer who I had done a lot of work for in the past, and he had been approached by a rich and titled client who needed a last-minute birthday present for Prince Charles, so the dealer had asked me to make it (well, embellish it, actually).

If they had only known that not only was I refusing to make something, but I was refusing to make it for the Prince of Wales on the grounds that I was too busy, they might have thought I was simply upping the price - there again they might not.

I expect that the thing is now languishing in the shed at Highgrove where all of the other unwanted birthday presents are stored, but it's the thought that counts, isn't it?

14 comments:

  1. I've always wondered where he put the presents I've sent; now I know, they're in the shed!

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    1. It really is true that there is a large building in Highgrove to house all the presents. It must be stuffed to the rafters. Occasionally there is a clear-out and certain items go into auction anonymously, presumably after the doner has died or fallen out of favour. A friend of mine got hold of one item which HRH never liked, and actually swapped it for something else which he did.

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  2. Does this mean that you can put that 'seal' on your work that you provided work for HRH The Prince of Wales? (Or however they word it...)

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    1. No, you have to work directly for any royalty. Anyway, I would get laughed at even more than I am already.

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  3. Dear Tom,
    when looking at the motto of the heraldic badge you could have annexed it and chimed in "Are You Being Served?" (Or use the Black Prince's motto: "Shield for peace" - meaning in your case peace from dead-lines).
    No, in earnest: I would have done that work, too, (my venial reason could have been just to be able to tell somebody about it).
    And maybe - one never knows - it pleased HRH.

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    1. 'Shield for a Piece of the Action', would be better.

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  4. I'm curious: why would you not tell your lunch mates of the commission. Is that part of the contract?

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  5. What was it? What was it? What was it? Don't make me break into his royal shed to find out.

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    1. Couldn't break the royal seal.

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    2. SEALUS DESTRUCTUS! (it might work, as in Harry Potter...)

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  6. I have never gone along with that 'thought that counts' business Tom. It used to be the farmer's excuse every birthday and Christmas until I started choosing my own presents!

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