Sunday, 24 August 2014

Planes, Boats, Automobiles, a Lion Fish and the Maldives

Things always go mad in the Motor Trade when you’re due to go on holiday, I had sold more cars than usual, the phone was ringing constantly and I needed to leave for the airport in the next 30 minutes or we would miss our flight to the Maldives. I had a car going out, and the bonnet cable had snapped. Rover in their wisdom had routed the bonnet release cable underneath the bonnet and out of reach, so when it snapped, it was impossible to get at. I had tried from underneath the engine bay to get to the broken cable, but my arms were scratched and burned off the hot engine. In temper and frustration and as a last resort I punched through the grille and forced the bonnet up, now my knuckles were a mess too, my day couldn’t get any worse or so I thought.

I still had things I needed to do, so I checked the airport web site, just my luck for the first time ever when I was going on holiday the plane was on time. The journey to the airport was pretty uncomfortable, we had booked a return trip with the local taxi firm, and I wasn’t sure the car they had sent should have even been on the road, I was convinced that there was no oil in the shock absorbers, and I wasn’t convinced that there was any in the engine. I was contemplating asking him to turn back as I didn’t think we were going to make it all the way. They should have been paying me to travel in the Taxi, not the other way around. I should have learned my lesson not to book them as the same firm had once picked me and my mate up in a Transit Van, with 2 park benches in the back, what made it worse was the benches weren’t even screwed down so we were sliding around in the back whenever he turned a corner, then there was the time when the car caught fire and i had to walk the rest of the way to the pub with my shoes smouldering after stamping the dashboard out.

Our holiday was an absolute bargain, and I was beginning to realise why when we got to the checkout we were told that the start of our holiday would be delayed by 24 hours as there was a problem with the plane. Apparently there was a crack in the Planes windscreen and the regulations for planes are a little bit stricter than for cars, they couldn’t ring the local windscreen firm and have a new one fitted on the runway, so they were going to put us up in a local hotel for the night.

I had too much work to do back at the garage, so I rang the taxi firm who dropped us off to try and get the driver to turn back and collect us. They said they couldn’t contact him and woild have to send another car for us, but as this wasnt a pre booked trip it wouldnt qualify as an “Airport Special” or even as our return which we had already paid for so they would “have” to charge us full price. I knew I was being conned but I was desperate to get back so I paid, needless to say that I have never used that Taxi firm again, a lot of firms (especially Car Sales) try to benefit from short sighted short term gain, I didn’t mind them using shit cars, but I object to being ripped off and they lost my business for ever.

The next day when we returned to the Airport, we were greeted with even more bad news. Our plane was being diverted to Gatwick to pick up more passengers. I started to doubt the cracked windscreen excuse when i realised that they had actually filled the plane with passengers and saved them selves all the fuel for a return trip to the Maldives by delaying us for 24 hours. I needed the beach and I wasn’t best pleased, another passenger was even more displeased, she hadn’t been told that we were diverting to Gatwick and she was furious as she had driven from London to Manchester that morning and considered it to be a waste of time and money. She was demanding that she and her 4 kids be upgraded to first class for the inconvenience. It wasn’t the Stewardesses fault, and I’m sure that if it had just been her, they would have done it, but her 4 kids had been running riot and she was paying no attention to them. One had been eating a bag of Maltesers and was covered in chocolate, so was the seat the little brat had been sitting in, and also the armrests all up the isle where he’d been running out of control. The chocolate covered kid had nearly fallen on me but I had managed to catch it by its hair and stop my linen pants being ruined, any way at least it had chosen to go back to its own seat to blubber, rub its head and stare at me, that kid wasn’t going to come anywhere near me anytime soon.

Clearly the woman hadn’t thought things through as her car was in Manchester, and we were now 200 miles away in London, she issued an ultimatum to the Stewardess that unless they upgraded her she wanted to get off the plane. The Cabin Crew stopped short of deploying the safety chute and throwing her down it, but she was out of the door before she had chance to change her mind, they had already had enough of her whining and her unruly kids on the 35 minute flight to London, and they realised that we had another 13 hours ahead of us to the Maldives, the Women, her kids and her luggage were promptly kicked off the plane. All the passengers clapped when the nasty bitch finally went through the door and we could get on our way, how she was going to get her car back from Manchester I don’t know, and I didn’t care, but somehow I knew it would be her Husband who would cop for it when she got home.

The rest of the flight was great, and the transfer “speed boat” was waiting for us just a short distance away from Airport Arrivals. I was a little disappointed to be travelling by speed boat, not just because I had expected it to be like Sonny Crockett’s 42 foot Wellcraft Scarab, but because I had tried to book the Sea Plane and had been told by the Travel Rep of the firm we booked the holiday through that it didn’t go to the Island that we were staying on (roughly translated, she couldn’t be bothered to check, or make the arrangements for us).

The Island was Paradise and it was an All Inclusive resort, we were given free drinks on arrival and we sauntered down to the beach just in time to see the Sea Plane arriving with some of the other guests on board. I took a photograph and started to compose an email to the Travel Rep “Dear Travel Rep, You know the Sea Plane that you said didn’t go to the Island that we are staying at, Well guess what? “

The scenery was fantastic, there were shoals of beautifully coloured fish, Black Tipped Sharks and Stingrays swimming just yards from the shore. The food was great, the staff were so nice. I asked our dedicated waiter Labib if he knew the score at the Man United game as I had missed it while travelling and from then on he used to come to our table every morning and tell me all the sports results that he had specifically memorised to report to me, the staff asked me if I would like to play football with them, and as there was no TVs in the rooms they also invited me to watch Manchester United play on the TV in their staff quarters.

I was admiring the magnificent display of food available and I happened to mention to my Girlfriend that the soup looked good, the guy that dished it out and also made it overheard me and you could see his chest swell with pride in his work, he was overjoyed as he ladled out an extra big helping for me, which technically I hadn’t actually asked for, but hadn’t got the heart to refuse. From then on he waited for me every night and as soon as I walked in, he came over to tell us what soup of the day it was, so for two weeks I had soup every night, it was 40 degrees outside, and I was eating red hot soup, that’ll teach me not to compliment people, after 2 weeks I was sick of the sight of soup!

Usually I can’t relax on holiday, I was forever on the phone underwriting vehicles for the trade, answering emails or checking my works web cam to see if there are any customers on my pitch. With no 3 G signal I couldn’t do this and was forced to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of Maldives, and pretty soon I forgot about work all together. This was the life, I started to question the sanity of Tom Hanks and the film Castaway, if I was marooned on a desert island and I saw a ship going past, I would hide in the deepest undergrowth I could find, why on Earth would you want to be rescued, was at the time beyond me, the Universe works in mysterious ways and the answer was soon forthcoming.

We had been there for a few days when my girlfriend at the time was bitten or stung on the foot, her ankle and foot were swollen and looked incredibly painful. Again the bar staff  took it in turns to relay a supply of ice cubes and towels to us, and making them into a cold compress to relieve the pain and swelling, but it was getting worse for her. There were medical facilities at the resort but only to dispense aspirin and plasters, I was afraid that we were getting beyond that as I could see she was in tremendous pain. I kept asking if she was alright, and she assured me she was. Now when I am feeling under the weather I make sure that everybody knows and suffers with me, but she was different, as long as I had known her she had never had a day off work, or moaned about having a cold or anything, she used to say Children get colds, Men get Flue and Women get on with it, to be fair she did..

Again my “Hope for the best, plan for the worst” instincts had taken over. I had seen a
Pterois (Lion Fish) in the sea not far from where we had been walking through the surf. I knew they were extremely poisonous, the bite/sting was on my Girlfriends foot and she had developed several of the symptoms that were associated with their stings which could cause paralysis and also prove fatal  (I’d Googled Lion Fish on the Computer in Reception). I had enquired and pre warned the staff at reception to be on stand by in case if she did need urgent medical attention. I was told that there was a possibility of getting the Air Taxi, but after 6.00 pm it went dark (Pitch Black) and our only option would be to sail to the Prison Island. This sounded like it would make an ideal plot for the next Die Hard film so I thought I would call the “Prison Island” excursion Plan B.  I also thought it best to keep my Lion Fish theory to myself as I didn’t want to panic her and make the situation worse than it was already.

The crew on High Alert 
We were rapidly burning daylight and she looked like she was getting worse, I kept asking her if she was sure that she was ok, but it was about 10.00 pm that night I knew she wasn’t, I heard the first sniff.  She’d had all day, but she chose that time at night to succumb to the pain, she could no longer walk, or put any weight on her leg. But it was too late now to get a ride in the Air Taxi!

I carried her to reception and Plan B was put into action, the boat was ready with her 3 man crew and we set sail through the Inky blackness towards the flickering light of the Prison Island. One of the crew was standing at the bow holding a lantern with a candle in it, it was as dim as an usherettes torch and we couldn’t see anything in the distance. Im like a shit magnet, and things happen to me that wouldn’t happen to normal everyday people, so when I go on Holiday, I go equipped, up until the travel laws changed I always carried my own medikit complete with syringes, Intravenous Catheters and Field Dressings. I had still managed to take a few of my essentials with me, I whipped my trusty mag light out and pushed the candle equipped pointman out of the way, he didn’t want to relinquish his position so he pushed me back. I shone my torch in his face, this insured he wouldn’t be able to see anything for a while so he went and sat down till his night vision recovered leaving me in charge which is where I like to be. I pointed my Mag Lite forward and lit up the sea between us and the prison Island, no one would get in our way.

It took us well over an hour to sail to the Island and when we docked there was a member of
the prison hospital staff waiting to meet us, the hospital was quite a distance away and he offered to get us transport, but when he came back he was driving a 1 seater tipper truck, good luck getting her to sit in the bucket I thought, I couldn’t get her to travel in anything less than the passenger seat of my Porsche.

Long story short I carried her to the hospital, and then I had to go to the other side of the Island to pick up the syringes and antibiotics that the Doctor needed to treat her. My journey was like something off a horror film, and I clasped my trusty maglite all the way there and back, I made a mental note not to shine it into the shadows anymore as all the eyes staring back at me was starting to freak me out.

A few injections later, and another trip through the unbelievable non light polluted blackness that is night in the Maldives, and my girlfriend was already showing signs of improvement. The cost of her treatment on the Island was the Maldivian equivalent of £3.00 I tried my best to give the Doctor a tip but he refused, in the end he agreed to take a small donation to the clinic he ran in his spare time. I wasn’t looking forward to getting the bill from the Hotel for 3 crew, their time, a boat and fuel. If they had the same ethics as the Preston Taxi Firm that we had used, the cost would probably Bankrupt me, thank goodness for Holiday Insurance.

Until I could claim the money back from the insurance company I would have to settle the bill, I could hardly bring myself to open it. I was expecting it to be in the hundreds and I laughed out loud when I saw the Total was a mere £29.00,  obviously the Maldivians are committed to making sure their patrons thoroughly enjoy their holidays (actually it’s not a Holiday it’s a Life Changing Experience!) , repeat business is more important to them than short term gain, and they cannot bring themselves to profit from someone else’s misfortune, there is a lot to be said for that.

The rest of the Holiday was fantastic, and went far too fast, I was very sad when our last day arrived and I could have quite happily stayed there for the rest of my life. My Girlfriend and I went back to our room after breakfast to see that our Bed had been decorated with petals, the message said “Good Luck” I think the message was aimed more at my Girlfriend than me but we really felt like the staff meant it.

Our Maldivian adventure was almost over, or so I thought when we boarded the “Speed
Leatherman Multi Purpose Tool
Boat” for our homeward bound journey to Male Airport. The Island was a spot in the distance and we had just about got to the point of no return when I thought I heard the engine miss a beat, then I heard it again, and again, a cloud of black smoke came out of the back of the boat and we ground to a halt. I wasn’t too worried and just thanked my lucky stars that it was the engine of the boat that had cut out and we weren’t making a Mayday call from the Air Taxi.

Swiss Army Knife
There was no anchor on the boat and we had no drive so we were at the mercy of the tide, we started to drift in the current as the boat bobbed up and down on the swell. The crew broke out the 3 tools they had on board which looked like they had gotten from a Christmas Cracker. They lifted the hatches up and started to dismantle the engine, that’s when one of the female passengers who was sat next to them, almost whispered in disbelief “There’s water coming in!” she was right it was coming in, and it was pouring in too, our Adventure wasn’t quite over, I put my camera down, and searched in my rucksack for the 2 pieces of equipment that I never leave home without, my “Leatherman” and my "Swiss Army Knife" I can repair anything with these, and I was ready in case the crew needed assistance.

It struck me that I should really be a Castaway, I don’t like people,  I was rapidly running out of Women who were prepared to take the risk of going on Holiday with me and succumbing to “The Curse Of The Cramptons”

What a fantastic Holiday, I need to go back, SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!  And if you haven’t been, You need to go too!


Sunday, 17 August 2014

What’s the exact opposite of a High Pressure Salesman? – It’s Me!

The best way to sell something is to create a need or demand for it

Borrowed from the Film  “The Wolf of Wall Street” :-

Wolf  “Sell me that pen”

Salesman  “Do me a favour write your name down on that napkin for me”

Wolf  “I don’t have a pen”

Salesman  “Exactly! Supply and demand.”

Over the years I have heard of plenty of Dodgy Sales techniques, one such firm who were well known for them were the people who sold a certain type of Vacuum cleaners. The Salesman would do a visit to the customer’s home and carry out a demonstration. Apparently the cleaners really were very good. The customer readily agreed to the demonstration thinking that they would get their carpet cleaned for free, and then they could just tell the salesman that they were going to “Think about It”

The Sales force however had been taught a trick to stack the odds in their favour, they would start off by cleaning the customers settee, or carpet but they wouldn’t finish the job, they would clean a piece of the carpet in a noticeable area of the room, or half the settee, then pack up their equipment. The customer then was left with no choice but to buy the cleaner and finish doing the job themselves.

Back in the Eighties there was a local Double Glazing Firm who employed a Sales Force and trained them in very High Pressure Techniques to Force a customer to buy their product. One such I heard of was when after the Salesman had finished his presentation, the customer said that he was going to sleep on it, un-phased the Salesman said, “No problem, do you have a spare bed, or should I stay here on the couch till you’ve made your mind up?”

Once the Double Glazing Salesmen had passed their probationary period they were given an amount of money to buy themselves a car. As he had to sign the cheques, It had come to the attention of the Owner that I had been selling his best Salesman a lot of cars, so unbeknown to me the Owner, and one of their trainers came to our garage to mystery shop me, see how I did it and also offer me a job.

They pretended to look at a car and ask for a part exchange price, I knew that there was something not right about them, but I persevered until the guy who turned out to be the trainer suddenly blurted out “I’ve got it, he uses the couldn’t care less technique!” The Owner of the double glazing business then came clean and told me why they were there.

I politely refused their offer, and said “I will let you into a little secret, It’s not a technique” and it wasn’t, I knew if they didn’t buy the car, someone else would. At that time we just couldn’t get enough cars, and If I am honest it had made me slightly blaze, and unbelievably arrogant, it also made me think that I was a whole lot better Salesman than I actually was.  

How I long for a return to “The Good Old Days”

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Just another day in Paradise!

At lunchtime when the sun had gotten too hot, my girlfriend and I had decided to walk up the beach and explore, but first we called at the Beach Bar to rehydrate, while she was finishing her drink, I went onto the sand and was heading towards the surf. Out of nowhere a guy appeared and grabbed my arm “Do you like Black Girls” he said, fearing that this was some sort of Racist questionnaire that you had to pass before they allowed you onto the beach, I said of course I do, why doesn’t everyone? Good he said, I’ve got just the girl for you, she’s in the bushes, then he started dragging me towards them.

The cavalry arrived in the shape of my alabaster skinned and fast approaching English Rose girlfriend. He loosened his grip on me as he was temporarily blinded by the glare coming off her, I was OK as I had my polarized Wayfarers on, but he had to shield his eyes. I yanked my arm free and said “as tempting as that sounds, she wouldn’t be too happy” He squinted at her in the distance, then asked if I wanted to buy some Ganja instead?, No I don’t, I am very happy with her and I don’t need drugs thank you very much. I could tell he thought I was making a mistake and clearly not put off he waved something in my face, presumably for me to sniff, and said, Aloe Vera ! He was using the Barbadian version of the Pendle system, he didn’t want to let me get away without making a sale, and he wouldn’t take No for an answer. Starting to lose my patience, I snapped back “What? ” he repeated “Aloe Vera, Aloe Vera Leaf, good for sunburn, good for hair shampoo”, and then he made a gesture with his hands that suggested if you ate it, it had the same properties as Viagra, I thought if that was true, how come the shampoo didn't make your hair stand on end.

My Girlfriend was nearly in earshot now, keen to end the conversation before she got the wrong end of the stick, and I got the blame for accosting a local to find out if there was a brothel on the beach. I turned to him and said look clear off, I don’t want a Woman, I don’t want Ganja and I don’t want any of your Fucking Aloe Vera either. Finally admitting defeat he wandered off in the direction of the bushes cursing and probably thinking to himself the same as I do when a customer tells me That "they're just looking", I’m only doing my job, there’s no pleasing some folk! however I also think hold on a minute, this is a business and I didn't drag you onto the forecourt!

In case you were wondering, I didn't take these photos of Ulrika
Further up the beach we came to the point where the stretch of beach was owned by the exclusive and unbelievable expensive SandyLane Resort. I got an uneasy feeling. I had heard movement, I was expecting to be accosted by another, Aloe Vera wielding, Ganja selling Pimp, but I caught sight of a group of guys hiding in the bushes, and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw they were all holding cameras with lenses the size of Jodrell Bank. It was the Paparazzi, we found out later that Ulrika Johnson was staying at the Sandy Lane hotel and they were waiting patiently to get a shot of her cellulite or a Kodak Moment bikini malfunction that they could sell to the tabloids and make a fortune.

On our Arrival at the Hotel the Kuoni Holiday Representative had warned all the new guests, paying special attention and repeating herself to the Honeymooners that no matter how overcome with lust, or how good an idea it seems at the time, do NOT under any circumstances seek out a secluded section of a beach’ or be the last people to leave. She obviously didn’t want to scare the shit out of us so stopped short of telling us exactly what to expect if we did, SHE SHOULD HAVE DONE! Some people are too stupid to live!  We've all seen the hideous warnings on cigarette packets, yet there are still people who smoke. Her message came across as some Barbadians weren’t quite as nice as the ones who were refilling our glasses of ice cold Rum Punch at the Tropical Escape Welcome Reception.

The first day we stayed close to the Hotel, just venturing across the road to watch the sunset
from the Beach Bar. I am not a good enough writer and don’t have the vocabulary to describe what an amazing sight the sunset is. I can tell you that it was an experience that I will never forget, even the locals who have seen it thousands of times before stop what they’re doing to watch every night. It brought a gasp from the other patrons in the bar who were witnessing it for the first time, and it reduced my girlfriend to tears as the last bit of the sun dipped below the horizon at 6.00 pm on the dot, and the sky turned jet black.

Normally I heed warnings, I’m not an “it will never happen to me” type of guy, and as you can see if you read the rest of my blogs, if it can happen to me, it will. I can only think that on our second day of the beautiful Barbados sunshine, consuming numerous banana daiquiris mixed to perfection by Edwin Star Boy the bartender at our all inclusive hotel during the day, and the bottle of Champagne we drunk at the Bombas Beach Bar (now The Blue Monkey Bar) while sheltering from the intense heat, had affected my judgement

We had decided that we had plenty of time to go for a stroll along the beach, before returning to the bar to watch another compulsory sunset. I had turned left and gone for a run up the beach in the morning and discovered the monument to the 78 people who died on Cubana de Aviacon Flight 455 which had taken off from Grantley Adams Airport and had crashed in to the Caribbean Sea just off the beach when 2 bombs exploded and blew it out of the sky. As we were planning a helicopter ride round the island the next day,  I didn’t want to make the mistake of negging my girlfriend out so I steered her in the opposite direction, thatturned out to be a bigger mistake

Barbados was paradise, we had adjusted to the climate and it was like starring in our very own Bounty advert. The relaxed atmosphere and the white sandy beaches were so far removed from Preston and the hustle and bustle we had to endure in our daily work lives. We had both desperately needed a break and decided on a whim to take a romantic holiday together. The setting was idyllic we were chilled out and engrossed in each other’s company we were laughing and talking, as we sauntered aimlessly along the beach. The Sun was now very low in the sky, I had lost track of time, the distance we had walked and where we were.

Again I got an uneasy feeling and I caught sight of a slight movement in my peripheral vision, there were 2 guys hiding in the bushes, and by the look of them it wasn’t my picture that they were after. It was too late to back track. I didn’t let on that I had seen them, I could tell they had been laying in wait, and were up to no good. I couldn’t hear their footsteps on the sand, but I knew they had come out of the bushes and were following behind us. I wasn’t ready to confront them yet.

To say that I was scared was an understatement, my heart was racing, I scanned the beach but there was no one in site, there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, I wasn’t so much scared for me but I had endangered my girlfriend and put her in harm’s way, tipsy or not, I should have known better. We were both wearing swimming costumes, we had no money or jewellery, and I certainly had nothing hidden in my Speedos that these guys would be interested in, the situation I had walked into was too horrendous to contemplate.

I saw what I needed, bent down quickly picked it up, and turned round to face my girlfriend I showed her the rock. She was bemused and although she knows better now I could tell it wasn’t the type of rock that she hoped I would be giving her on this holiday. For the first time I made eye contact with the 2 guys behind, there was no reason for them to be there, but if they were going to try anything then one of us was going to learn a lesson they would never forget. Mine would be listen to what the Holiday Rep tells you in future, but theirs would be that I would defend my girlfriend, to my last breath or theirs whichever came first.

I maintained eye contact with them, but my girlfriend was staring at me, she couldn’t understand the significance of a rock, eventually she broke the silence “What? What is it? Is it a fossil? I can’t see anything!” trying my best not to hyperventilate, I replied “No, it’s just a big rock” Curious she said well what are you going to do with it, worrying that she may have to leave the shoes behind that she’d loaded into my suitcase she said “you can’t take it home as a souvenir, or you’ll have to pay for excess baggage!

The two guys were almost level with us, they were watching me, and watching the rock
which I was holding at arm’s length, my girlfriend realised that there was something wrong, she followed the direction of my gaze to see what I was staring at and then she too became aware of their presence, I stepped in front of her and I let her in on my plan I nodded my head in their direction, giving the 2 guys a  “Come On then I dare you look, tossing the rock up in the air, praying to god that I looked tough and that my catching abilities wouldn’t desert me on this occasion, I had briefly considered hurling the rock at the Palm trees that they were stood under and hoping that they would become 2 of the 150 people a year that are killed by falling coconuts. I decided that was a bit of a long shot so I said to my girlfriend “See the big guy, I’m going to hit him as hard as I fucking can with it”.

There is a moment when you’re dealing with a customer who’s buying a car, you can see in their eyes what they’re thinking, “is he bluffing, can I get more discount, or is that really the very best deal he can do”, Word of warning if you’re trying to buy a car from me, I’m not a good liar, so I don’t usually bluff” and you can tell from my eyes exactly what I’m thinking, usually its “if you think you can get a better deal elsewhere, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!” however on this occasion I had just become the World’s Best Bluffer. Our two would-be assailants continued towards us in quite a threatening manner but must have decided that the best deal available to them would be to carry on walking up the beach without getting their heads smashed in with a rock, or a coconut if my aim was a bit off and I hit a tree.

I don’t usually like crowded beaches but I can honestly say that it was a relief to get back to one. I’d had enough excitement for one holiday, or so it seemed at the time

A couple of nights later we had hired a car and gone to a restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was owned by an English guy. When we finished our meal, we went and sat at the bar to chat to him. He was studying an image on a piece of paper, it looked like a scan that pregnant women have, it was of no interest to me, but my Girlfriend had to ask! Turns out it he had downloaded the image from a meteorological website. It was a satellite image of Hurricane Jose which was a Category 2 and was heading towards Barbados, it was due to hit us the next day. He advised us to go back to our Hotel immediately.

When we arrived the staff were busy boarding up the windows I asked if they wanted any help but they were ok, so we returned to our room to find a note had been slipped under our door “Be ready to leave at an hour’s notice” we packed our bags but I didn’t want to sit in our room for the rest of the night and the Prince Nasseem Hamed v Cesar Soto fight was being shown live on the big screen at The Coach House Bar next door, I informed reception where we would be and then we braved it through the now torrential rain and I got us a couple of drinks. I had been quite a long time at the bar, as there was a crowd  and as I was British they asked me what I thought of Prince Naseem.

When I returned to our table it was obvious that my girlfriend was upset and she was fighting back the tears. I was hoping it was delayed reaction from tonight’s sunset, although I didn’t know for sure, I suspected that It may have been something I had done, I was right. No sooner had I sat down, than I was on the receiving end of a telling off. “There’s a hurricane approaching and you don’t care do you, you’re enjoying it, you just think everything will be ok and that you will have another story to tell your daft mates don’t you” I may never see my children again, and you’re there in your element, and offering to help them barricade the hotel windows!”

Now at this point the 1st round of the Boxing Match had started on the TV above her head, so while I was doing my best to appear sympathetic, and console her I may have been paying more attention to the Naseem Hamed fight and not the one that we were currently having. I spoke before I considered what I was saying “Don’t worry, I’ve been on holiday with loads of women, and I’ve never lost one yet” Now if you were my Girlfriend isn’t that something that you would find comforting? No she didn’t either.

You have no idea how much I regret saying that and have been made to suffer, or the pain that one off the cuff remark has caused me since, anyway in the interest of fairness and balance I would like to point out that I am an arrogant, conceited Bastard, and the other Women I had been on holiday up to that point in time must have been Bimbo’s, allegedly!

As for the Hurricane, like our would be assailants, it veered off at the last minute and left us alone.

Just another day in Paradise!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Brian gets the last laugh, for now!

My new job as Sales Manager had gotten off to a lousy start "I don’t want it ! I would rather walk, it looks like a Geoff! " I said to my Boss! (Reference Geoff Hurst, Hat Trick scorer in England's 1966 World Cup Final) Geoff Hurst = Hearse = Funeral Car. This was the first conversation I was having with the General Manager in my new role as Sales Manager. I was referring to the Mercedes E 200 Estate that I had inherited which had been the previous Sales managers demonstrator, he was Married, he had Kids, he’d settled down and didn’t need a “Bait” car, this car had way too many seats, and way too much luggage space for my needs and liking. It was the kind of car that a Guy who has a pipe and slippers and is happy and content with his lot would drive, I wasn’t that guy!.

The previous Sales Manager seemed to have given up on life and settled for mediocrity, he slouched round the Showroom as if he couldn’t be bothered to lift his feet up. He was pretty miserable, and he always looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulder.

I wasn’t sure what he was doing that made him so tired until one morning I saw the accounts girl getting out of his yawn a mile non descript Silver with grey cloth E Class Estate, he was parked just up the road from work, if he had given her a lift why drop her there, as if I couldn’t guess!

My suspicions were confirmed when she came in to our morning Sales meeting with some paperwork and he acted like it was the first time he had seen her that day. "Have you had a nice weekend" he said with a knowing smile. It wasn’t a good thing for me as up until that moment when I realised that they were having an affair I had always referred to her as “The Poison Dwarf” (the accounts department did their utmost to stop you selling a car, or when you did sell one they made it as difficult as possible to claim your commission).

The poison Dwarf was always ok with me and I had hidden my dislike quite well ( I only disliked her because she worked in accounts (Sales Prevention Department), if she hadn’t it could well have been me that would have been dropping her off half a mile from work in the rain), her demeanour towards me had changed a few weeks prior to this, it all made sense now and I realised it must have happened when the Sales Manager and her were sharing the afterglow, he’d probably run out of small talk, then came up with an idea to break the silence “Hey, you’ll never guess what Barrie calls you behind your back”

These days he appeared to be more and more stressed, his Wife had found out about the affair and kicked him out, the Poison Dwarfs Husband had kicked her out and they were shacked up in a pokey flat above a kebab shop in the centre of town, circumstances had taken their toll on him, he looked like he had aged 20 years in the last few weeks. We were also way behind on our targets which was unsurprising as we had a crap Sales Team, which consisted of me, I'd like to think I was ok, but I was fed up of getting conned out of commission and I had largely lost interest. We had a young lad (Tim nice but Dim) he was the son of one of our best customers, apart from the cars his Dad bought he had hardly sold any, he was a nice lad but useless.

The other Sales Man Michael seemed to be incapable of getting off his chair without breaking wind, I put this down to an inbuilt defence mechanism, he was a kind of human skunk who seemed to be frightened of customers, like a skunks reaction to predators every time a customer approached him he let one slip, as you can imagine this didn't help his closing ratio a whole lot either and he was on his final warning.

Prior to his promotion the Sales Manager had been an OK Salesman  but he was no good as a Sales Manager, the paper work was killing him, he was under pressure at home and at work, and as it happens things weren’t as rosy as they could have been at his Love Nest either.

The Poison Dwarf was at a crossroads in her life too, she’d was fed up of all her clothes smelling like a Kebab and had been to see a Fortune Teller to see what the future held for her, sadly she didn’t like what she heard.

I hadn't been to see a Fortune Teller but I didn't like what my future held in store either as I had just been given the bad news that I wouldn't be paid 71/2 % commission on my 5 years worth of SLK orders and instead I would only get £50 per car which just wasn't worth the hassle (see other blog. ) I’d had enough and decided to pack in.

This SLK incident was the latest in a long line of commission reducing dirty tricks and it was the last straw. I felt sorry for the Sales Manager, so out of common decency I decided to give him the heads up that I would be leaving at the end of the month as soon as my wages hit the bank. I did ask him to keep it to himself, otherwise if they knew I was going to leave, they wouldn't pay me what I was owed (Standard Practice in the Motor Trade)

He didn't reply, he just got up, walked out of the office and headed up to the General Managers office. I thought he'd gone to grass me up, but when he came back down he looked a different guy, he was smiling, there was a spring in his step and he looked like he'd got rid of the Worlds Weight, I recognised this look, it was the same look the others had had when they jacked in, and sure enough off he went leaving the Managers position vacant.

We did without the Sales Manager for a couple of days, then the Sales Team were called into a meeting and we were told that someone was coming for an interview, I knew the guy who was coming and I didn't like him at alI, so I made my feelings known and said that if he got the job, I was history. I had nothing to lose as I was planning to leave, but I had worked really hard up to that point and I didn’t want him taking over.

The Human skunk had a lot to lose, he never went to the Sales Manager and always came to me for valuations and for help doing deals so he knew that if I left he wouldn't survive, so he suggested that I be promoted, I got Tim nice but Dim’s vote too.

I was promoted, the good thing was that I would be paid on a percentage of the Sales Departments profits and I would now get my richly deserved rewards for all the hours I had spent selling and speccing up SLK's to WAG's, the bad thing was that I inherited the "Geoff" from the old Sales Manager

The General Manager a past master at stating the blinking obvious, told me that I had to have it as the E Class was a management car, and the C180 AMG Sport that I had when I was a Salesman was a C Class and therefor it was a "Salesmans" car. My new role as Sales Manager seemed to be a step backwards as far as desirable Transport went.

He did however tell me that as soon as I sold it, I could register a new Demo of my choice. I needed something to look forward to so that afternoon I sat down and put an order in for “The Stealth” as it would later be referred to by my colleagues.

It was an Obsidian Black E Class Avantgarde Automatic, with Light Grey leather Interior, Wood and Leather Steering Wheel, and AMG Alloy Wheels, it would look fantastic but it wouldn’t be here for 3 months. I hated the E Class Estate and when it wasn’t raining I used to commute on my Honda Fireblade rather than turn up in the Geoff.

3 Months went by in the blink of an eye and despite me putting unbelievable pressure on my Sales Team to sell the F###### thing, they hadn’t managed it yet, and the “Stealth” was sat in the compound in all its splendour just waiting to be registered.

Pressure wasn’t working on them so I resorted to bribery, I was still selling cars as well as doing my managerial job, but I didn’t get commission for Sales so I saved them up and used them to keep anyone who'd fallen foul of the constantly changing commission structure happy, by dishing my sales out to deserving causes.

This time I used my sales to keep me happy, I announced that the Salesman who sold the "Geoff that I was being forced to use would be given 10 of my deals, this amounted to about a £1000 and worked like a charm.

The E class Estate sold within a few days of the introduction of my incentive scheme, but I was then left with another Dilemma, should I register the "Stealth" in July and miss out on the plate change in August or should I wait another 4 weeks for the latest plate, which really only amounted to snob value and bragging rights, so I waited.

August the 1st came and my car had been PDi’d, taxed and valeted, I'd had a Mini Disc Player and a steering wheel remote fitted, the sun was glinting off it as it was sat in the delivery bay outside our front door, waiting for close of business and me to jump in the driver’s seat at long last, but it wasnt going to be the pleasant experience that I'd hoped for.

 A customer walked in who was looking to buy an E class, I recognised him instantly, it was Brian Ferry (Not his real name) I hadn't seen him since the 70's when i worked as an apprentice Draughtsman at an Engineering firm after I left school.

I was in the drawing office and he was in the Machine shop, looking back it was quite funny as the advice given to me by the Manager of the Drawing office was not to mix with the "Rabble" out of the workshop.

I’ve never been good at taking advice and I took no notice of this either, there was 2 old guys and me in the Drawing Office and it wasn’t exactly a hive of activity. In the office at lunchtime the main past time was having a snooze, it was left to me being the youngest to wake them up, but sometimes I couldn’t be bothered, and just left them. While i was checking to see if my colleagues were sleeping or they were dead, the lads in the Machine shop were playing football and cricket. It wasn't long before I was eating pie and gravy in the rabble’s canteen and playing football with them at lunchtime.

I started work as an apprentice Draughtsman when I left school as my Mum and Dad wanted me to have a trade to fall back on when my career in the Motor trade didn't work out. The rest of the White collar workers frowned on me a little! for "fraternising with the lads from the workshop, but far from being rabble the other apprentices were a good bunch of lads, we all got on pretty well, but we played a lot of pranks on each other.

Brian was a year older than me and shared a car with his Mum, it was an absolutely immaculate Volkswagen Beetle with loads of highly polished chrome trim, it was a great car, he also had a really nice girlfriend, and he was lead singer in a Band, he was always singing Roxy Music songs,  he was a cool guy, a likeable lad, and a good laugh.

I on the other hand was too young to drive and had a racing bike, I couldn't play a musical instrument or dance to save my life, things were bad, and they got worse when I bought a Lime Green Garelli Eureka moped, word of warning Lamborghinis in Lime Green are awesome, Mopeds not so much.

I had spent every last penny that I had on the moped and insurance so i could cast my net

further afield, and not be knackered and out of breath when I got there.  I didn't have enough money left to buy a helmet. "Not to worry said the Salesman, you can have the one the lady left when she part exchanged it. The helmet looked like a bowl on my head, it had been hand painted orange and it had stickers of horses on that wouldn’t come off no matter how hard I tried, but it was either wear that helmet or use my racing bike till i got paid the next month.
Brian almost wet himself when he saw me turn up at work on my moped,  I was ribbed mercilessly, one day while Brian was taking a toilet break/reading the sun, someone threw a bucket of water over the toilet door, now hand on heart it wasn't me. I suspected that it was the fitter who Brian was meant to be helping, but instead of helping he kept skiving off to the toilets, no one else admitted to it throwing the water, and he didn't believe it when I said it wasn’t me.

This started an intense rivalry between us, one day he had waited for me to come out of the toilets, fortunately the fire hose that he 
was holding wouldnt reach inside the toilets, I saw him and managed to sprint up the workshop and out of reach before the pressure built up in the hose. Our friendly feud continued until the day he left, Brian had decided he didn't want to be tied down so he ditched his Girlfriend, and joined the Merchant Navy, he wanted to see the World. The last time I had seen Brian I’d had to run to escape his wrath and jump on my Yamaha FSIE Moped  and a Full Face Bell Crash Helmet that I'd had to borrow money to buy as I couldnt stand the ribbing I got riding round on my Garelli Eureka, Brian had been changing out of his overalls for the final time, all the lads were there to say goodbye but when he took off his Steel toe capped safety boots, reached up to the top of his locker to get his training shoes, he pulled over his up turned Hard Hat which I had filled with water and tied the laces of his shoes to. I'd had the last laugh, Brian was drenched, that was my going away present and he would have something to remember me by.
The Brian Ferry wannabe had remained a teenager in my memories, but the guy who was stood in front of me now, in our showroom had grey hair, he was married with 3 kids, and he was an insurance broker. I'd rather be dead, I couldn't believe this was the same happy go lucky, love em and leave em guy that I had known all those years ago. He told me that he was looking for a new car, and I couldn't help but ask "Why does your Mum want her car back now" if he had come a few weeks earlier he would have been an ideal victim for the yawn a mile Geoff.

He was looking for a new Company Car and was entitled to standard E class, I took the opportunity to get a bit of payback in for all the "kermit the moped" jokes by telling him that my new demo was outside, it would be the same engine as the car he would be entitled to on his company car scheme, but he would only get a classic, not Avantgarde he wouldn't get leather, big wheels, wood and leather steering wheel etc, etc.

Brian asked if he could have a drive in it, not missing the chance to gloat I agreed, but then he went to his car and proceeded to get his 2 baby chairs and his 3 screaming kids, there was no way I was going out on a demonstration with him, so i tossed him the keys and went back to my office.

He came back after a short time, gave me my keys, we chatted for a while longer then he left. I was quite saddened by the fact that he had grown up and turned into a middle aged family man. I sat in my office for a while and contemplated how quickly nearly 3 decades had passed, at the close of business I sauntered out to my new car still contemplating, I opened the door and sat in it. I knew I could smell something that clearly wasn’t the Mercedes Benz leather, I covered my mouth and nose with one hand and grabbed for the door handle with the other, I was wretching, and I fell sideways out of the car in my haste to get out. When I caught my breath I ran back into the showroom, there could be only one person responsible and I accused Michael the Human Skunk of sneaking out for a joyride in my new car, leaving it smelling like a Gas Chamber, he protested his innocence.
I didnt dare open the door but through the window I could just see the dirty nappy sticking out from under my driver’s seat. Brian had indeed turned into a middle aged family man, but he definitely hadn’t grown up, and he still had a teenage sense of humour.  He’d also got the last laugh!
for now.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Customer Expectation, Amateur Photographer and The VAT Man

How do you manage customer expectation? I think the answer is you have to do the best “You” can, sometimes it’s not enough. Usually you never know what you did to push the customer over the edge and make them buy from you. Occasionally they tell you when you’ve agreed a deal, almost as if they need to get it of their chest, some are too embarrassed, Sometimes it’s the price, sometimes you have the right thing at the right time in the right colour, but sometimes it’s just the little things you do.

When I was working at weekends and during the school holidays washing cars at a garage, they had a Full VAT inspection. Although they never did anything wrong and they knew nothing would be found, there’s a stigma attached to VAT men, they make you feel guilty when you’re not, and he was as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. In order to get rid of him as quickly as possible they put him in a room in the Parts department.

The room was cramped, overrun with spiders and the odd field mouse, but most of all it was like Ice Station Zebra it was freezing, I felt sorry for him (I was only 12 and I didn’t realise then what a pain in the arse VAT men can be) so I took him a fan heater that I used to dry car interiors when I had wet vacced them.

Years later the VAT man called in a garage where I was working, somehow we got talking about where I used to work, he put 2 and 2 together, remembered me, and since then he has bought 4 cars from me, and recommended me to his friends and relations, from which I have sold numerous cars. It’s The Little Things! And sometimes you don’t even know you’ve done them.

I had pretty much forgotten about this incident, some may think at 55 I’ve left it a bit late, but my philosophy is “you’re never too Old to learn” and the other day I started racking my brains as to how I could make sure that I do the “little” things that make “that” difference for each and every customer. The question that prompted this Eureka moment was totally unrelated to the Car industry, it was “So are you a Canon, or a Nikon man?” the answer was I am neither; I should be because they are the choice of professionals, but I’m not, and the answer was quite difficult to explain without sounding stupid. If I’m honest I don’t care what other people think of me, so here’s the answer!

I’m an Olympus Man and I have been since I bought my first Olympus Camera over 40 years ago. My decision wasn’t price related; I wasn’t “Sold” on the OM 1  by a slick talking Salesman. It wasn’t because it was the best camera for the Job, it had been recommended to me, it was a nice colour or I knew someone who had one.

I had done my research on the Cameras which were affordable to me on my 4 paper round, and weekend car cleaning job savings budget, and narrowed my choice down to Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, and Olympus. There was no such thing as the Internet where you could find and compare Cameras and specifications, just Amateur Photographer Magazine or “Amateur Pornographer” as a friend calls it.

Amateur Photographer was really another version of “The Sun” newspaper, the only difference being that scattered between glamour shots of scantily clad models all the manufacturers and camera sellers advertised their products and prices.

My Dad didn’t mind me buying the magazine, my Mum not so much!, so on a Wednesday Morning in order for me to stay in my Mums good books but still be able to research, erm well let’s say “Cameras” I had to sit in my own self imposed Ice Station Zebra which was situated under the stairs in a Block Of Flats at Glen Eldon Court in St Annes. I used to read Amateur Photographer from cover to cover before I posted it through the letterbox of the only subscriber on my paper round, then made my way to school (usually late). It may just be a coincidence but the same customer also subscribed to Playboy, however I never learned anything about cameras from that.

There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between the cameras, and I knew that in the right hands each of them would take better pictures than my limited skills and natural ability would allow me.  I was largely undecided so looking for inspiration I wrote to the Manufactures, asking them to send me all the latest information on their products; with my letter I sent them enough stamps to cover the poastage cost of sending their brochures to me.

So why am I an Olympus Man, why have I spent over £50,000 on Olympus Products in my Life Time? Why am I now looking to buy the latest Olympus E5 without even considering Nikon or Canon products?

Well my decision was swayed by the one member of staff, who on the day they posted the brochure out decided that Olympus could afford the postage, and they paper clipped the stamps I had enclosed and returned them to me unused.

There’s your answer I am an Olympus man because they sent my stamps back!

It’s the “Little” things.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Just because I like Top Gear doesn’t mean that I’m a Misogynist, or does it?

When you read my blogs you would probably get the impression that I am a misogynist “Woman Hater” but you would be wrong, I am exactly the opposite! I can find a quality I like about even the most appalling Harpies. Over the years this has been my biggest downfall, and just because I like one quality doesn’t mean to say they don’t drive me mad with numerous other things I don’t like.

I think I’m a good host, I don’t ask a lot from a house guest or girlfriend, just two rules, don’t touch the remote controls, and when I’m watching a program, only talk during commercials, if you have something urgent to say Text me, now is that too much to ask? Just to clarify “You’re a shit boyfriend, I never want to see you again, and I’m going home “ is not an urgent message, I could get the gist from the, Tuts, the door slamming and the tyre squeal, without missing any of the program .

In my defence it’s imperative that you watch a Motoring Program (Top Gear) live because If I had a quid for every time I’ve sat down to watch a film or TV program that I set my video to record, and just before the end “somebody” has changed the channel and Coronation Street, Eastenders or some other drivel comes on, I would be a millionaire. Even Sky Plus Falls foul of the 8 Oclock weekdays phenomena when two equally shit Womens programs are broadcast on different channels, so instead of Wayne Carini in an Episode of Chasing Classic Cars, you get a message saying this “Program failed to record due to a Programming Conflict” (Which roughly translated means, we did manage to record your Girlfriends Programs But Hey, Have a Great Night!) ”

When a Womans watching a program, it’s like turning a shark on its back, (I watch The Discovery Channel a lot too) they go into an almost catatonic state, except for the odd “Bastard” muttered at the guy in the program who's done something to upset one of the female characters, then they give a sideways glance in your direction which really means “You even think of doing that and I will be after you with the kitchen scissors!

When you’re watching a program it’s a different thing, women can multitask, for multitasking substitute “do several things that annoy you all at the same time” they can read a magazine, hum a tune, and flick the pages over so fast that each page sounds like a whip crack. Incidentally did you know that a whip cracks, because the end is travelling faster than the speed of sound and it creates a mini Sonic Boom, if you didn’t know that, the chances are its because you were watching the program "Little Known Facts" with your girlfriend.

They don’t speak too often but when they do, it’s at the precise moment that Jeremy Clarkson is sharing some very important information and you miss it, no point in saying “shush” as that just makes things worse, “Shush, why Shush, what’s happening, what’s he talking about that’s so important that I’ve got to shush, has Richard Hammond invented a cure for Cancer? By which time you’ve missed what he was saying anyway and you are even more in the dog house. Then just when you don’t want it, it’s time to go to bed, and you get the Library treatment, which was precisely what you wanted when you were watching TV

 I have a pair of Bose “Quiet Comfort Noise Cancelling Headphones” which I always take on Holiday. They work by use of analog circuits or digital signal processing. Adaptive algorithms are designed to analyze the waveform of the background aural or nonaural noise, then based on the specific algorithm generate a signal that will either phase shift or invert the polarity of the original signal. This inverted signal (in antiphase) is then amplified and a transducer creates a sound wave directly proportional to the amplitude of the original waveform, creating destructive interference. This effectively reduces the volume of the perceivable noise. Translated this means they eliminate the sound of the plane’s engines, and you don’t have to turn the volume of the in-flight movie up to an unacceptable level.

As I said before I really do like Women, it would probably be less stressful for me If I didn't and I was to become a Monk, but that’s not the life for me so In order to survive I believe that Mother Nature has taken pity on me and allowed my hearing to evolve. I seem to have developed noise cancelling ears. Although my hearing is perfect, my ears work in exactly the opposite way to my Noise cancelling headphones. I can hear every note of a Formula One cars engine as the gears change, the pitch alters and it screams down the track. Watching the opening sequence of Point Break, I can hear the next cartridge slide into the chamber as he cocks his pump action shotgun, in preparation for his next shot. I hear his bullet tear through the target and the hollow tinkling of a spent bullet casing ejected from Johnny Utah's (Keanu Reeves) semi automatic Sig Sauer P226 9 mm, as it hits the ground, bouncing  twice before it settles and becomes silent.

No matter how softly they talk, I never miss a word spoken by Jeremy, Richard, James, Tiff and Jason. If she’s sat opposite me I can see my girlfriend’s lips moving but I can’t hear a word she’s saying until the commercial break or 'Jessica' by the 'Allman Brothers' starts to play.

Noise cancelling ears do have a couple of disadvantages, and I must remember to write to the TV broadcasters and ask if they could put subtitles on the screen when Vicky Butler-Henderson is on Fifth Gear and the same when Rachel Riley is on The Gadget Show so that I know what they’re talking about.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ding Ding Final Round !

I was doing my best to try and forget about the Jury that didn’t find the guy guilty of attacking me, I was telling the truth throughout and anyone with any common sense would be able to see that it couldn’t have happened any other way. As Scotty from Star Trek would say “It’s beyond the laws of physics Jim” There is no way I could have dragged an 18 stone guy over my desk by the wrist, there was no way I could even reach him over my computer monitor to do so, his version of events was a lie from start to finish, but then it had to be otherwise he would get sent to prison. I was disgusted with the Tactics of his defence Barrister, The Police Investigation, the Farce that was 3 trials, the laughable Prosecution Barrister,  but most of all I was disgusted with myself for not conveying what happened to the Jury in a way that would and should have left them “beyond all reasonable doubt”

In order to make sense of this Blog, you need to read this one first

As my front door opened and I struggled in carrying my shopping, I could see a business card on the floor in the Hall, I had seen enough Police officers business cards to know that this was one too, on it was a message “Please ring me” Crikey I thought, what have I done now?
The Officer told me that they had confiscated the firearms off the Guy who had attacked me, when he was arrested, and he’d recently had the cheek to ask for them back, even though he had been found “Not Guilty” the cops had refused his request so that speaks volumes in itself! He wouldn’t take no for an answer and he had re-hired the same Barrister who had defended him previously, and he was taking them to a court of appeal, if the Police lost he would get his licence back, and his shotguns back, and the cops would be responsible for his costs too, they wanted me to appear as a witness again, but this time on their behalf.  
I resented the jury’s verdict more than even I realised, and I launched into an epic rant, which started off  “ As much as I like being made to stand up in court and get called a liar after every sentence by some bitch who knows full well that her client was guilty, I’m afraid I will have to decline your offer” “I would rather stick pins in my eyes, than go through all that again” I carried on for about another hour giving him all the reasons why I felt the Police, British Justice, the Crown prosecution service, and the people who make halfwits do Jury service had let me down, at the end of my rant the Police Officer said something like “so that’s a no then is it?”
I ended my call by putting a deal to him, I knew my attacker had a relative who was a high ranking Police Officer, so I said that if the Cops could arrange a meeting, and after listening to my story the high ranking Officer thought that he was really innocent and deserved to get his guns back, I would appear in court as a witness, if not then the High ranking Police Officer could save every bodies time and trouble by convincing my attacker that he was lucky not to be in jail and he should forget about ever being able to own a firearm again. I left that option with him, but the meeting never happened.
A few months later I was contacted by another Police Officer, he asked if he could come and see me, it wasn’t really a question, so reluctantly I agreed. He explained that this time it would not be in front of a Jury, but a Judge and 2 Justice of the Peace, I would have to go through exactly the same procedure, his Barrister would cross examine me again, it would be no picnic, I wouldn’t get the Justice I deserved, the previous verdict would not be overturned, there wouldnt be a retrial, this was just to prevent him getting his guns and his licence back.
I agreed, but on the condition that I would not be stuck in the waiting room for days on end like I was last time, I would turn up for 1 day, and 1 day only, I would give my evidence, take an earbashing and be called a liar off Cruella, then I would go home and I never wanted to hear the guys name again, we shook hands, It was a deal.

I am probably prevented by some Liberal do gooder law, and couldn’t begin to tell you anyway just how harrowing it is sitting in the witness room. There are several cases going on at once, prosecution Barristers are in and out, and the stories you hear being related are horryfying. I could hear a witness sat next to me, being intimidated on the phone by the defendant she was testifying against, It makes you wonder how this can be allowed to happen and what kind of society we are living in.
So I had been sat there from 9.00 am till 1.00 am, our agreement was out of the window, the Judge had started reading another case first, and we would be next. So I made my way to the Courts Canteen. I was again reminded of the incredibly stupid works of the British Court system. There are separate rooms for Defendants’ and Witnesses, you can only get in the Witnesses room by an assistant punching in a key code. To get into the court, you have to go through a metal detector and be patted down, they had confiscated a small torch that I always carry, because “it could be used as an offensive weapon! My sarcasm was lost on the guy that frisked me when I said “sure that’s what I was going to use it for, I was going to shine the guy who attacked me to death”
 I was now sat in the canteen, there were knives, forks, glasses, hot water any amount of things that could be used as weapons, and in walked the guy who had attacked me, he positioned himself diagonally opposite me, and sat there sneering, the whole system is just a joke. My ears were burning and the people he was with kept turning around to look at me, there were plenty of witnesses this time, I sat there trying to look like butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth, but I was seething I really wanted him to start something, this time I was ready, and I would finish it. I wanted the chance for closure, but he didn’t.
At approximately 3.30pm I was told the case had been adjourned and that I could go home, another wasted day!
The new date came through a few months later and the timing would guarantee that my Christmas and New Year would be spoiled if this verdict went against me. I had decided that I wasn’t going to be polite or conduct myself as a Gentleman this time, I would say what I thought and no amount of people telling me to be quiet was going to stop me. if being heard meant that I would get done for contempt of court, then so be it, but no one was going to shut me up or talk over me when they didn’t like my answer!
I was called to the Witness Box, and asked questions by the Prosecution Barrister, this guy was good. I told my story and was then asked to explain what the photographs were of, and which injuries they depicted, and how I had received them. Now it was Cruella’s turn and the familiar “You’re a liar Mr Crampton” filled the court room. When she told me her clients version of events, I laughed, it was just too ridiculous for words. She wasn’t ready for my answer “Wow you’ve changed your version of events yet again,  it’s your client that’s the liar, and you know he is too, otherwise you wouldn’t have had to change your story 4 times to fit the answers I gave you in the first 3 trials! And how can you say that he was trying to calm me down and subdue me when there were punch and kick marks on the back of my shirt, what do you think I was trying to do, hit his fist with my kidneys?
She bit! her answer surprised me and gave me a chance to score some early points, she said that I never gave evidence in the first trial, and that if I knew anything about the law I would know that she was allowed to change her story, my reply hurt her “That’s the thing, I’ve told the same story 4 times, but I’m telling the truth” and using a line i borrowed from the film The Highlander, I said “So there can be only one!” version. She was clearly rattled and came back at me immediately, saying that I was a liar, and she had never heard my evidence in the first trial. I told her that she was at best mistaken, but my implication was that she was lying, I invited her to look back through the records, she just ignored me and asked me another question but I continued with my answer to her first question. She began to try to talk over me, and ask me the another question time after time. It reminded me of a pop record called La La La by Naughty Boy that was in the charts at the time
I engaged my selective Noise Cancelling Hearing (covered in a seperate blog and ignored her question I continued to remind her of the first trial. She kept demanding that I answer her new question, which I did when she eventually gave up allowed me to answer the first question she had originally asked me. I testified that I had been stamped on, that I had footprints on my shirt and one on my head in blood, my shirt had been lost for several months in Police evidence, the previous Barrister had opened the evidence bag when i distinctly told him not to, it was only sent to forensics 18 months after the incident. The defence Barrister made a big play that they could not identify a footprint, and I said Im not surprised that a dusty foot print had worn off after 18 months of being manhandled and messed with, but I had taken a photograph of it within a few hours of the incident. The prints that were available in the court were just very poor photocopies of my photos and I complained to the Judge that they were pathetic and there was no excuse as I had supplied them with 8MP pictures on a DVD, and they should have made better copies in order to show the detail and extent of my injuries.

Referring to the photographs, the Defence Barrister said that the pictures were the ones that scenes of crime had taken and supplied. I took my opportunity to point out that she was wrong again and I replied that I had taken the photos she was looking at, again she snapped "you’re a liar!" She wasn’t on her A game today at all, I asked if I could get my Ipad out to prove it, I could also show them the footprint on my shirt and all the timed and dated pictures in sequence I had taken as the bruising came out. At this point she objected and said to the Judge “If Mr Crampton wants to introduce new evidence he should have done it before this hearing”, I didn’t want to introduce anything, they all ready had all my pictures they were just very badly printed, they were already looking at my evidence and I just wanted to prove that she was wrong yet again. The Judge ruled that I wasn’t allowed to produce my Ipad.

I took my opportunity and turned to the Judge and told him that I had taken the pictures minutes after I had been attacked, I asked them to pay close attention to the footprint in blood on my head as it was vitally important that they understand the significance of it, the print was a different shape than the cut that was left underneath when I washed the blood off, this proved “transference” it proved beyond all doubt that I couldn’t have got my injuries when “I went mad and he tried to calm me down and subdue me” It proved that he had stamped on my head at least twice, and he could have only have done that when I was on the floor, as he wouldn’t have been able to lift his leg 6 feet off the ground to kick me in the head, and If he could I cerytainly wouldn’t have stood in the same place and let him.
I also pointed to the bruising on my lower leg, which showed a perfectly shaped shoes sized and shaped bruise, again to inflict this injury on me, I would have had to be on the floor and him stood over me,  otherwise the only injury I could have gotten was off his toes, and not his full flat foot.
Satisfied that I had made my point, and explained it thoroughly enough that even the last jury would have realised that it was the truth. I turned back to Cruella ready for her next question and I recognised the look she was giving me, I used to see in my last Girlfriends eye when I had done something really unforgivable, like useing the wrong fork in a restaurant, or tweeting a picture of a registration number that looked like it said something naughty, usually with my Girlfriend I had done it completely accidently and just by being me, but in this courtroom it was accidently on purpose. I had gotten right on her nerves, and I could see she was fuming! Cruella went straight for my Jugular, and tried to ridicule me,  I set her up with the ammunition. So Mr Crampton where did you get your extensive knowledge of forensics then? "I never miss and episode of CSI Miami" I replied, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. She couldn't believe her luck, "You got your knowledge from a  TV program?" Before she finished off he theatrical laughter that was for the benefit of the Judge, I said “It doesn’t matter where I got it from does it, we both know I'm right!” she stopped laughing.
It was a good job I had won that point because her next move had me very confused, she produced an AA report which pulled the car I had sold to pieces, she took great delight in asking me to read each line of it out loud to the Judge, the report was very damming. If I had have sold a car as bad as that I would have expected and also deserved a slapping. I countered the report by saying that the things they said were wrong with it, could not possibly have been wrong otherwise the oil warning light, brake fluid warning light, disk pad warning light, and low coolant warning light would have been illuminated and they weren’t! She smiled and I knew that was a bad sign, it was, and she got me.
Wouldn’t that also be the case if the warning lights were faulty Mr Crampton? “Yes it would, but they were working fine”. Turn to the last page of the report Mr Crampton, and read the last paragraph! I read ahead a couple of lines and although I knew that this was complete lies, basically I was f#### I started reading it out, a lot quieter than my cocky replies to her previous question had been “The warning lights on the vehicle were faulty and inoperative. I started thinking out loud, while my brain processed the information, I said “That’s not the report you showed me at the first 3 trials, the report you had was off some oily rag at Kwik Fit who was trying to sell them a car of his own, and if you’d have had a report off the AA you would have used it! I was speed reading through the report, I really couldn’t believe it, there was only one explanation it had been fabricated. I made a fool of myself and said that report has been made up, it hadn’t, and I didn’t mean that she had made it up, I meant that her Client had, She turned to the Judge and again made a big point of doing her hysterical laughter routine at my preposterous statement she said “Well, I have been called a liar, and now I’ve been accused of fabricating evidence”
I hadn’t done myself any favours, things were looking bad, and even I was starting to think that I had indeed sold a defective car, but then I saw the date on the report it was the 31st of May, 28 days after the incident. The AA had picked up all the faults that the Oily Rag from Kwik Fit had picked up, plus the one about the warning lights, and then it all fell into place and I knew what had happened! I turned to the Judge and said that even if this report hadn’t been fabricated it was dated almost a month after the incident, and he couldn’t have confronted me with it, it wasn’t the report that had been fabricated it was the faults on the car, all the faults were low fluids, easily done by draining the fluids out, the car had been sabotaged, there were no mechanical faults. I knew that they’d had 28 days to tamper with the car and create these faults before the AA guy got to inspect it, I had the Judges attention.
I demanded to see the original report, I was convinced that I had been Kwik Fitted Up,  Cruella said that was it and I again told her that she was mistaken, and added "Again!" I described the report that I had seen in detail to her, the original was burned into my memory and I  demanded to see it, I asked the Prosecution Barrister to search through his previous notes for it, this time it was her that was flustered and as she shuffled through her paper work, I continued to bend the Judges ear with my conspiracy theory, but I knew I was right.
Cruella snapped, she demanded that the Judge removed me from the court as “ I wouldn’t shut up” he didn’t, but he continued to listen to me and then asked me “if the car had been faulty, as it said in the report, what would I have done?”, my answer was that I would have fixed it, or given him his money back, and if the Customer hadn’t wanted it to bring it to me he could have taken it to any VAT registered garage as per the conditions of the written warranty that I had supplied with all the cars  I sold. But then I added that his question was purely hypothetical because it wasn’t faulty when it went out. She eventually got the original report from the Kwik Fit guy which was a joke, and I ridiculed it again. I did a bit of my own hysterical laughter when I came to the bit that said "Water pipes touching the Engine" Touching, not only do they touch the engine, theyre attached between the engine and the radiator, LOL LOL LOL, right then, she couldnt have hated me more if she'd been married to me.
She moved on, then she pulled a photograph out of her briefcase that wasn’t in any of the bundles, she passed it to the Judge and the Justices of the peace,  then she asked me to look at it, and confirm that it was my Cabin, it was, and I did. But  it occurred to me that she had just introduced evidence, so why couldn’t I. Again I turned to the Judge and said, am I right in thinking that picture has just been introduced without permission, and if she can produce evidence whenever she feels like it, why can’t I produce my Ipad?. A wry smile crossed the Judges face and I could tell he was thinking along the lines of “ Smart Arse, why did I bother going to Law School for 10 years when I could have just watched the DVD Box Set of CSI Miami", then he said  “Thats a good question Mr Crampton, does the council for the prosecution want to add anything?", he did, he wanted to add that my Imy Ipad should be introduced as evidence, this time there was no objection from the Defence, just a deep sigh.
The reason she wanted the Judge to see  a picture of my cabin was to show that it was raised off the ground. My 2 witnesses at the trial had testified that they had seen a commotion and had run across to my Cabin, one had pulled the guy off me, and the other had pulled the woman off who was apparently kicking me. The CCTV showed them running across, but then she stopped it and accused me of lying, and also one of my witnesses, this was the first time she had used this and I was baffled, the reflection in a cars bodywork appeared to show the legs of one of the witnesses as if he stayed outside my cabin, at the time I couldn’t offer a reasonable explanation, she was right it did appear to show this, all I could say was he did come in, I saw him! Then the “You’re a liar, your witnesses are liars blah, blah, blah started again.
On the spot in the Witness Box, being confronted with this evidence for the first time and under intense pressure from her, I couldn’t for the life of me explain it, and She won the round, it did look like I had lied, and if I had lied about that I am sure that could have put enough doubt in a Juries mind to get him off with the reasonable doubt thing. I have since studied the tape on a 65 “ Screen in great detail and in step by step motion, they both came in the office but the guy who pulled the woman off stood in the doorway, the reflection of his legs could be seen because the car door was convex shape and the reflection was from in the office and not on the floor, it wasn’t a 90 degree reflection from your view point as would be shown in a mirror, it was reflecting a view from inside my office,  she used the element of surprise to throw me off, I couldn’t explain it but perhaps her tactics didn’t work as I stuck to the story that I knew was true no matter how implausible it seemed at the time, and perhaps the Judge had sussed it when I hadn’t.

The next thing she tried to ridicule was my explanation that he had come across my desk, and again it had been something that I had struggled to answer, I had my head turned away when he hit me and jumped over, he came over so fast that I was convinced his punch had dazed me and time had stood still, while he dragged his lard arse across my desk, the thing that troubled me was that I do remember him landing on me with an incredible force, so much so that it bent the steel l shaped panel which attached the back rest of my chair.
 Now often when I am faced with a problem, I wake up with the answer, my subconscious works on it till I get the answer. I used to keep a pen and paper by my bed so that if I woke up I could write the answer down, and not go back to sleep and forget it. Now I have an Iphone, so I just type the solution into notes and then doze off immediately.
I could remember being alerted by the sound of a chair moving, but he seemed to punch me and get across the desk in one movement, I couldn’t figure out how he had got the drop on me and I hadn’t managed to stand up, and go toe to toe with him. Time and time again I relived the attack in my thoughts, dreams, and nightmares, but I always woke up in the same place, my subconscious was trying its best to solve the problem for me but it wasn’t working, until one night shortly before the this appeal, too late for the 3 trials but just before his firearms appeal I woke up reached for my iphone and typed in, “Launched himself off her chair” this time my dream had continued past the point where I hear his chair move, he punches me and I wake up, this time I heard another noise, it was her chair moving, and it moved not because she was getting up to join in as I had thought, but because with his right leg he had stood on her chair and launched himself across the desk on to me, like he was a human cannonball, problem solved.

She had asked me the same question in the 3 previous trials and I never had a satisfactory answer, but this time I answered with conviction, and it was so obvious, I don’t know why I had never figured it out before. I am pretty good at reading body language, and hers said FFS!
I’m sure at this point she still hoped that she had done enough to win the case for her client, she had already planted the seed that I was a lying dodgy car dealer, now all she had to do was make me look like an interfering busy body and I was only here because I held a grudge against her client. Cruella asked “Do you know what this hearing is about, Mr Crampton? I replied “Yes, it’s a firearms licence appeal” and what’s that got to do with you may I ask? “Well, your Client threatened to kill me, so the last thing I want is to have him running around Preston with a couple of shotguns!”
I could tell that wasn’t one of any of the possible answers that she had rehearsed in her head, or indeed hoped for. She set off with an incredible rant, a whole tirade of insults, punctuated every so often with you’re a liar Mr Crampton. But that was my part in the trial over, the prosecution Barrister took my Ipad back into court, he showed them crystal clear photographs of the footprints on my shirt, head, all the bruises, and I made sure there was a couple of pictures of the car that I sold which looked a million dollars, I wasn’t allowed back in, but my Ipad must have done the trick.

Long story short, he didn’t get his license back.