Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Perfect Storm



Things were going great and that’s always a bad sign for me. I am a big believer that if things can go wrong they will, and if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any. Sometimes its so hard and painful to look back to where things went wrong, but in my case it went wrong when things couldn’t have been going any better.

A few years before I had installed an interactive web cam on my lot, a guy who was working in Dubaii had been feeling a little homesick, and had searched Preston Webcams on the internet, he found mine which was just up the road from where he lived and he looked at my stock, saw a car that would suit his Wife, rang me from Dubaii and paid for it over the phone.

His only condition was that I would deliver it to his house, not a problem as it was just round the corner. When I drove the car round I discovered it was in the same little Close as my Dream House it was a house I had wanted to buy when it was first built, however at the time I couldn’t complete because I wasn’t able to sell my House fast enough and another couple had beaten me, You snooze you lose!
I mentioned this to my customer, and several weeks later I got a call out of the blue from her. She told me that things weren’t so good with the people who had bought the house that I had wanted, Hubby had been caught playing away, they were splitting up and selling the house, would I be interested.

Business was great, I really wanted the house, I could get it at a knock down price as the present owners could avoid Estate agents fees too. I wanted it! I had a great relationship with my Bank Manager and rang him to discuss a bridging loan until I sold my old house, he suggested that I actually keep my old one and rent that out, the rental income would easily cover my present mortgage and also give me an extra income he was right it seemed to be a no brainer. I had an overdraft secured against my old House, but he assured me that wouldn’t be a problem, and if I needed I could increase my limit to cover the capital that I was withdrawing.


I felt sorry for the Lady who was selling the house, she didn’t want to go, she had a great taste in décor and the house was beautifully furnished, She needed money to put down on a place that she had seen and she didn’t want to miss it, so I agreed to pay her £2000 up front in exchange for leaving a few items of décor, sadly her Husband still had a key and he removed most of these items before I moved in, argh well I wasn’t too bothered, I had got the house that I had wanted.

As reconditioning costs were spiralling, cars were becoming harder and more costly to fix, up until buying my new house my goal had been to reinvest the money I was making in tools and equipment so that in time I would be able to move to bigger premises, with my own fully equipped workshop which by then would be fully kitted out.
I had bought a state of the Art Diagnostic Scanner and a fully automatic Air Conditioning Machine.

I had a full set of Interior Trim and Upholstery Smart Seat And Plastics Repair Equipment and had Imported the best set of Dent Tools that were available from America. I was also busy taking every course that I could get on and learning how to use them to their full potential, My plan was to become proficient and self sufficient In all the tasks that I was spending a small fortune on at the moment, if I could cut my reconditioning costs, repair times and vehicle preparation times my profits would grow, or as the saying goes look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

Everything was going great, the only thing that was stopping me making more money was space, my Portakabin was taking up valuable real estate I could get another 3 cars on my pitch if I could get rid of it and then a chance conversation with the person who owned the house adjacent to the garage, gave me an idea, he told me that he was thinking of selling his house, my brain went into action if I bought his house I could 86 my cabin, have an office in the house, 3 more cars on the main pitch, 3 more up the drive of the house, and a place to store Sold and in Preparation cars. 


As the Internet grew so did distance sales, with my Car Videos and Video Test Drives I was attracting customers from a lot further afield and I knew I could sell a lot more if I could overcome their objections to travelling. I had plans to use the rest of the house as a guest house, the ideas came thick and fast, give them a choice, get them tickets for a show at the Guild Hall, or I would negotiate a deal with a local restaurant, I would make buying a car off me like a weekend break.

if you don’t like my car what have you got to lose? Worse thing that could happen is you get a night away with your loved one or your Wife, in Sunny Preston, go and see a show, or have a nice bottle of wine and a meal for two in a local restaurant compliments of BC Cars, next day you get to drive home in your nice new car, or your old one as the case may be.

I rang my Bank Manager and pitched my idea to him, he liked it and readily agreed to help me fund it, I couldn’t afford to take any more capital out of the business to buy next door so the only alternative was to sell my rental property. The extra cars that I could stock on the pitch and the projected increase in business would more than offset any lost rental income so the next day I put my old house on the market. 

My Bank Manager was brilliant, he had helped me get started in Business and he had helped me grow, he absolutely couldn’t do enough to help, he assured me that as soon as I sold the house he would seamlessly transfer the Banks security charge to my New House.

There’s a saying in the Army that battle plans never survive contact with the enemy, and I should have known that things were going far too well. It took me a while to sell my house, I had signed the contract so there was no backing out of the deal. However in the time it took me to sell it, my Bank Manager had been promoted, he had introduced me to his replacement and apart from having a handshake like he was passing you a wet fish he seemed ok.

I rang to tell him that the money from my house sale would be coming in to my account, (it had to be done that way as they had a charge on it at the Land Registry as security for my Overdraft the Solicitors had to send it to them). 


When it did I would be using some of it to pay a deposit on the House next door. Instead of extending my overdraft I would also leave some in the account so that I could then buy more cars and fill the extra sales spaces that I would create.

There was a silence at the end of the line, and then he said “I’m sorry I cant do that” “Cant do what” I asked. Transfer the security to your new house, erm why not your Predecessor said it would be no problem. Perhaps it wasn’t then but it is now, first of all we would have to have your House valued, that would be £1500, then we take 75% of the Valuation, Minus the amount of your Mortgage, then whatever that leaves we can lend you a percentage of.

Being the reasonable type I told him what I thought.

Long story short, I had lost the rental Income of my 2nd house, and I had now lost my overdraft too, My cash flow was decimated as although there was enough to pay off my overdraft, I was now working without a safety net, and technically I couldn’t afford the cars I already had, I had had a great quarter and would soon have to pay a big VAT Bill, this would take another 2 cars off my pitch and make it harder for me to earn enough money.

My old Boss used to say “Don’t talk to me about Banks, they lend you an Umbrella when the suns shining, but when it rains they want it back”

My Bank took my Umbrella back during a prolonged heat wave, but I would soon be engulfed in a Perfect Storm.


That was my first set back and although it wasn't a coup de grace it seemed at the time it would have been kinder if it had been, over the next few months I was hit with one blow after another. it was about that time that the recession started to bite in Preston, and I was about to fall victim to one of my other brilliant ideas too. 

Long before Finance figures became virtually standard on Car Dealers Websites for which the rates, APR's and  Monthly Payment Figures are populated automatically, I'd had the idea to add them to my site which I'd built myself. In each description I showed Finance payments for 24, 36 and 48 Months, each one of these had to be worked out individually and manually entered into the html coding on my website. 

It was a lot of extra hard and time consuming work but Interest Rates were pretty low and I found that I could save customers money on their monthly payments from what they would be at any High Street Bank and still make good commissions, whilst I have never been one to shoehorn someone in to an "Payday Loan Interest" agreement, I was fair and it was another welcome source of income for me.


My terms and conditions with the finance company stated that if an agreement was settled after at least a 3 month period had expired there would be no commission debit backs. However it also stated that if the customer went into arrears or defaulted completely they would take it all back (pretty standard clause). I went through a period when I was frightened to open my mail as it seemed like every customer I had dealt with over the last 3 years was having financial problem, and the Finance Company wanted their commissions back from me. It was a tough time for me and I remember opening one letter which showed that I owed them £2500 pounds in clawed back commissions. 


If you’re in the motor Trade and things aren’t exactly going your way, please get in touch. I may not be able to help but I am a good listener.

Theres nothing to be ashamed of as in my opinion "If you've never failed, you've never tried anything new" 

My advice to others, when things do go wrong, sometimes you can’t see a way out, its not pleasant but “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

I may have that put on my headstone :-)

Barrie Crampton 



If you think you may need professional help, give Ben "The Automotive Industry Charity" a call !




Saturday, 2 January 2016

Scientists or Salesmen, who would you choose?


I don’t much care for Scientists and I am of the opinion If you want a cure for cancer, Aids, Ebola or Global Warming you should either make Scientists work on Commission only basis, or even better just give the task to a Car Salesman!

I hear the academics amongst you shouting at your PC, “I’ve never heard such a load of rubbish in all my life Baz” most Car Salesmen are thick and only do it because they cant do anything else but bear with me and in due course I will explain.
Scientists


If you give a bunch of Scientists a disease or an illness to cure, they have no deadline to work to unless they are personally invested, with a friend, or family member suffering. So they will fuck about at their leisure until they accidentally stumble across a cure for something which is usually a completely unrelated random issue that bears no relevance to the task that they were assigned!

Can you imagine what would happen if you went to pick your new car up from a garage and they said “I know you ordered a blue Mercedes E Class Automatic but I’ve got you a Green C Class manual Instead”, or “I know you brought your car in for us to repair the Oil Leak but we couldn't do it so we put new tyres on”, you wouldn’t be happy would you? But that’s what Scientists do all the time.

Penicillin was only discovered because Alexander Fleming forgot to wash the pots before he went on holiday.

and 

The fastest selling drug of all time UK92480 the little blue pill more commonly known as Viagra was accidently discovered by a team of scientist whose primary goal was to cure Angina. Yep! they were actually looking to eradicate a Heart Problem, and they invented a Boner Pill by mistake.

If you’ll forgive the pun, I’m afraid there is no upside for the guys with angina, as to add insult to injury anyone with a dodgy ticker is expressly forbidden to take Viagra as one of the side effects is that it can cause a Heart Attack. Even worse If they’re not trying to cure something they just do a study on something else that in the scheme of things has no importance and nobody gives a shit about.

that also reminds me of a joke to which the punchline  is

(Doctor Replying to Patient) "Report me for what?  All I said was that the results of your check ups show that youre suffering from hearing loss, and your Wife has acute angina! "

However

Salesman (Me)

I am going to use me as an example, I have had very little schooling, I’ve been in the Car Job all my life and I’m still single. Since I consider myself to be a nice bloke I can only think that it’s because I have been very bad in a previous life or there is a higher power setting me a series of challenges which I must complete before I find a partner and settle down, nothing in my life ever goes smoothly especially a first date, but unlike the Scientists I refuse to be beaten or settle for something else, and I never give up!  

I have 2 mottos which I truly believe


“Life’s hard and then you die”

And

“Women, you can’t live with them,”  (That’s all I’ve got so far)

here are just a couple of tribulations that would defeat a Scientist but I have had to overcome in pursuit of whatever my destiny holds in store.

I had driven home at warp speed, got showered, changed in to my best clothes, applied a liberal amount of aftershave and was now heading the 18 miles back to Preston to pick up a girl for our first date. I was driving my Vauxhall Cavalier Demonstrator and had just gotten to the traffic lights at Freckleton when I heard a Pop in the engine bay and the car ground to a halt. It was pissing down and never thinking when I set off that I may need an Oilskin or Overalls for my date, I had just come out in a shirt and pants, I hadn’t even got a Jacket with me. The only thing I had in the car was a plastic seat cover which I placed over my head and got out to examine the engine and try to repair it.

Vauxhall Cavaliers had several inherent faults, the kind which now would cause uproar in the press and on the internet but then in those days we weren’t a country of compensation seeking whinger’s and the Car Industry just fixed them asap.  When I lifted the bonnet I could see the problem was immediately apparent, it wasn’t one I had come across before and at the time I didn’t know what had caused it or how it would occur. The cars distributer cap had exploded into about 100 pieces.

The exact cause came to light over the next few months as we were called out to more cars that had suffered the same fault and had broken down, it transpired that on some cars petrol fumes from the engine were leaking back up the vacuum advance and retard pipe, they would build up inside the distributer until they were ignited by a spark from the points and blow the dizzy cap to smithereens. 

I had assumed that the only explanation for my distributer cap exploding was a Thunder bolt had been sent from the heavens to cock me up and I was swearing and cursing my luck. Most people would have called the AA or a Garage or just left the car and got a Taxi home, but I was going on a date nothing and nobody was going to stop me. I have never stood anyone up in my life, sure due to circumstances beyond my control I’ve been late lots of times but never stood them up.

I wasn’t too far from an Esso Petrol Station, I knew they had a workshop and were bound to have a Distributer Cap in stock, but despite my best efforts I failed to convey the importance of my date to the young lad who was behind the counter, it seemed that his mission in life was to switch  petrol pumps on, take as long as possible to do it while people clicked angrily at the nozzles, apparently selling parts and helping people wasn’t his job.

I weighed up my rapidly diminishing options Plan B was to pinch a distributer cap off a car from Georges Garage and leave him an IOU, but he was on the main road  and was just across from the Police Station, the way my luck was going I’d end up in a cell until George turned up to say that he knew me and I wasn’t a Thief but I was an idiot.

Plan A Was to put my Motor knowledge and my Motor Skills to good use, I had always been great at Jigsaw puzzles and making Airfix models. I had been equidistant between the Petrol Station and the local Spar when I broke down and although the Spar wouldn’t stock motor spares I thought that if I could buy a torch and a tube of superglue I would be on my way in no time at all,

As I Stood in front of a bemused cashier with a seat cover over my head already drenched and looking like a drowned rat, I discovered that the people of Freckleton must eat a lot of carrots and never break anything as they had neither item in the store. Like a Roll CalI I reeled off several brand names of other glues which would also do the job but would take longer to cure thereby delaying my date even further, Araldite? No, Evo Stick? No, Airfix? No, Unibond No, ok I said perhaps we could save a little time here, what Glues do you have? it was my turn to say “No” to the Pritt Stick Non Sticky, Sticky Stuff, and the Solvite Wallpaper Paste. 

I desperately scoured the shelves for Items that I could use then went to the checkout to pay for my New Pink (only colour they had) Pakamac Raincoat, a Packet of Plasticine, a roll of Sellotape, and a Jumbo Pack of assorted Elastic Bands then I returned to my car.

The only light I had to work by would be the headlights and I knew that I wouldn’t have long before they would drain the battery, even if my repair worked there was a possibility that there wouldn’t be enough power left to engage the starter motor and turn the engine over until it fired.

I selected the flamethrower setting on my Ronson Varatronic quartz piezo electric gas lighter, making a mental note to remember to turn it down again before I lit my next John Player Special King Size and napalmed  my fringe and eyebrows. I clicked the switch then wrapped Sellotape round it to hold it in place so the flame wouldn’t extinguish, stuck the lighter to the floor, using a piece of Plasticine, then I set about arranging  the exploded distributer cap fragments into size and some semblance of order.

It wasn’t long before the gas in my lighter had run out, but I had managed to make a framework with the bigger pieces, wrapping elastic bands round in all directions to hold them together. I turned the headlights on and furiously started to put the smaller bits in place, the elastic band construction worked better than superglue as it gave a certain amount of flexibility allowing me to manoeuvre and squeeze the more intricate pieces into place, as I completed a section I would form the plasticine around the outside to encase it so it wouldn’t collapse.

I carefully fastened the Frankenstein of Distributer caps back into place, rushed to the driver’s seat and turned the ignition key. Unbelievably the engine burst into life, it was misfiring like a bitch but undeterred I set off on my date.

God 0 Barrie 1

I like to think that I learn from all situations and from that day to this I never leave the house without a torch in my pocket, a waterproof jacket and jump pack in the boot of my car and even though I haven’t had a cigarette for about 30 years I always carry a full lighter in my pocket.


I was out with my mate one night, and we were just forcing our way through the packed lounge, making our way towards the bar, it was the place where the “In Crowd” went, it was a Beautiful Summers night, the Pub was packed to the Gunnels, everyone in there was sweltering hot, and we were all too shallow and stupid to find somewhere that had air conditioning. I could feel sweat beading on my forehead, I stuck my bottom lip out and exhaled sharply directing a cooling breeze up my own face, I probably looked like a retard (ok more of a retard than usual), Just as I’d done it I noticed a girl who had earlier in the week been to see a used car that was for sale at the garage where I worked, as I squeezed past her. I smiled and made an off the cuff remark, I was being ironic when I said “Warm Enough?”

After my subtle icebreaker, we got talking and arranged to go out on a double date with my best mate and hers. The date didn’t go as smoothly as I had planned, mainly because as we were just about to set off to pick them up we realised that neither of us had paid any attention to where they lived. As we tried our best to remember the directions, all my mate could recall was number 6 and that the road was named after a tree or a leaf, my contribution to the puzzle was that she drove a Mini Metro’ it was the kind of non specific information that a Fortune Teller would give you, knowing that you could make it relate to just about anything you wanted to. However when I valued her car as a part exchange I had checked the service history and I could remember the name of the garage that had stamped the service book, this at least was a definite.

Hopefully she had her car serviced near her home or else this was going to be a very long night, unperturbed and never beaten we started at the garage and drove round in ever increasing left turn circles looking for a road named after a tree or a leaf, with a No 6 house that had a Mini Metro parked up.

As luck would have it she lived in Leyland about 2 miles from the British Leyland Factory, and the biggest British Leyland Car Dealer in the UK, everyone who lived there either worked for or knew someone at BL who could get 30% Discount off any British Leyland Car, you have no idea how many fucking people had a Mini Metro up their drive and how many roads in Leyland-ii-Ville are named after trees

We were an hour and a half late arriving at her house it WAS number 6, in a road named after a tree, there was a Metro up the drive, but we knew this was the right house as the front curtains kept twitching and had 2 fuming girls taking it in turns to stare out of the front window.

Long story short on this occasion I wish I had been of the Scientist Mentality and settled for a night out with my mate instead. As far as chat up lines go I went back to my old faithful  “So, do you like Chinese” “Warm Enough” was retired as it caused way too much trouble that particular night and for several months afterwards !

       If you have seen the “Laminated List” Episode of Friends you will know where I am going with this story. Things weren’t good at home, I was living with a girl who was driving me mad and I was looking to bail out, unfortunately it was my house.

I was out with my mates, we’d all had a couple of beers and I was lamenting my tales of woe to them when I noticed a very beautiful young lady smiling in my direction from across the room, not believing my luck I casually checked over my shoulder just to make sure she was smiling at me and not some guy behind me, when I looked back she was already heading in my direction. She stopped right in front of me, in the centre of our gathering and said “Barrie, you don’t remember me do you” A bit lost for words I said, “I couldn’t possibly know you, as there is no way I would forget someone as good looking as you are” to which all my mates responded with a groan, and one pretended to stick his fingers down his throat and be sick.

I’m A##### ‘s little Sister, I had a big crush on you when you were going out with her, she said, this had gotten all my Mates full attention, so quick mental calculation, approximately 10 years ago she'd have been about 12 when I last dated her Sister, she’d now be the same age as I was then. I grabbed her arm and shepherded her to a quiet corner, where she proceeded to ask me out on a date.

When I went back to my Mates I relayed the story, they were all like guys are when they’re drunk, one unhelpfully pointed out that it was usually my Girlfriends who were mental and not their Sisters, he added “it must run in their family”. The mood of our Boys Night out had changed and again collectively and as one they all turned and looked at her like a clan of meerkat’s, then looked back at me and said “Baz youve got to!”

However another Mate who at that moment in time decided to represent the Department of the F###### obvious put a damper on the nights events by chiming up and saying “ Your Girlfriends not going to like it if you do!”.

There was a deadly silence for a few minutes until one of them said, I’ve got a plan, everybody groaned again, he usually had the same train of thought as Edmund Blackadders manservant Baldrick, and his plans were about as successful “ I was clutching at straws though so reluctantly I said “Go on then let’s hear it” and this was it.

“We could pretend you’ve signed for a local football team” ---- WHAT! How the F### is that going to help?” but then the plan gained momentum and the rest of my mates joined in the alcohol fuelled subterfuge “Yeah that’s it, you could say you had to train a few nights a week, and have an away fixture every fortnight so you could stay out, She’ll never suspect a thing!”

The spokesman for the department of the obvious spoke again “What if your Girlfriend wants to watch a match?” this negged everybody out until we were refuelled with another round of Boddingtons Bitter

An emergency plan was quickly formulated we would need another 21 guys on standby to make up the 2 opposing teams, a couple of sponsored kits, the Keys to Preston North Ends Stadium, and a representative crowd who could turn out at a moment’s notice, all this was dismissed as a minor setback that could easily be surmounted

One of the guys was friends with the Sports reporter who worked on the Evening paper, and said he could get him to write a fictitious match report and some flattering headlines to add substance to my cover story

As the Beer flowed so did the suggested headlines there was a reference made to the move I often used when we were playing 5 aside to get round a defender, it was a kind of mixture between blind optimism, a nutmeg, a Johan Cruyff Turn, a Ronaldo Step Over and a Blatant Foul, after I did it in a match, my best mate had sarcastically christened it the “Cramptona Twizzle” he told the story adding that I was born with it, and it was too dangerous to teach to others as if it was done wrong your legs rubbed together so fast that the friction could set your shorts on fire! then he crossed his eyes and held his pint up to his ear and pretended to drink it.

The headlines evolved, to cover the rest of my upcoming Imaginary Season.

Crampton scores Hat Trick on Debut

Crampton voted Man of the Match

Crampton made Captain

Crampton scores in dying seconds to earn replay

Crampton Strike secures place in Semi Final

Crampton’s side lift Trophy!


City move to sign Crampton for record fee!


If I’m honest by now I’d got swept along with the story and I had forgotten that the whole thing was invented so that I Could go out on a date and I said “Make that United, I wouldn’t be seen dead playing for City.”

Only to be slapped down by the Department of the Obvious Spokesman, “Don’t be stupid no one in their right mind would believe United wanted to sign you!” after 5 Pints of Boddingtons that was his line in the sand!

I must admit that the next morning the plan didn’t seem quite as fool proof, but I did learn 2 valuable lessons that I can now pass on to my readers.

  1. “A pissed off Woman does better detective work than the FBI”
  2. “you only regret the things you DONT do!”
    Here is my closing argument
    Salesmen have one goal, they are conditioned to work to targets, and deadlines, but as soon as they reach a target, they don’t get a Nobel Peace Prize or a write up in some Medical Journal and live of their 1 win for the rest of their lives, come month end the slates wiped clean, or the targets increased if you’ve hit it, and the clock starts ticking all over again.
    If they don’t reach their target then it’s a black mark against them or another nail in their current job coffin, usually Sales Targets are unrealistic and you’re living on your nerves trying to eek a deal out of nothing.
    A Horny Guy has a single focus, and like a Cruise Missile he will not deviate from his intended target, till he reaches it or gets blown out of the sky
    Tipsy Guys, can by discourse solve any problem and surmount any obstacle in the World before closing time.
    So if you want something doing as fast as humanly possible and against all odds, give the task to a Horny Salesman with a group of drunken mates!     You're Welcome!


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!







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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!