Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It ain't nobody's business if I do

“Have you heard about my new business enterprise?” Grange Girl asked as we hopped over puddles on our way to cake. I was so surprised I mistimed a hop and splashed rainwater into my Crocs. “Your what?” I spluttered. You’d be looking at Grange Girl a long time before the words ‘business enterprise’ would spring to your lips. She’s not exactly Donald Trump or Richard Branson. Then again, and luckily, so few people are.
“My new business,” she repeated, pushing open Laportes’ door with an imperious air, like Margaret Mountford off the Apprentice. I ordered chocolate and beetroot cake while Grangey carefully removed her gaiters, galoshes and sou’wester. That is something she and Donald Trump have in common: they’re both of an age to remember these quaint words for waterproof clothing items.
“What’s the business then, Lord Sugar?” I asked, nibbling a lump of sugar.
“It’s called ‘A Moment of Sense.”
“And what’s its USP?”
“Its what? Anyway, it started at work, when my colleague was flapping about organising a leaving do. Getting everyone to order their meals in advance had reduced her to tears. I stepped in, and said, ‘let’s just order when we get there.’”
“Simple, yet brilliant,” I said, secretly thinking it sounded a bit obvious and that her colleague was clearly an airhead.
“I know you’re thinking that was a bit obvious and she’s clearly an airhead,” Grange Girl said perspicaciously, “but when you’re in the middle of a situation you can’t always see the beetroot for the chocolate. My new service helps muddled souls to identify the…”
“Exactly.” She bit into her cake. “My latest client said I’d saved her marriage. She wanted to go walking in Cornwall, he preferred to jet to Dubai. Impasse. Till ‘A Moment of Sense’ mediated, proposing that they take separate holidays with friends.”
“You like Cornwall don’t you?”
“I do, very much.”
We both thoughtfully stirred our tea.
“So how many people have used ‘A Moment of Sense’, Grangey?”
“That,” she said, fixing me with a stare like Duncan Bannatyne’s, “is between me and my accountant.”
Suddenly I felt I scarcely knew this hard-nosed tycoon opposite me, brushing chocolate crumbs off her cagoule. Yet that very evening, in the middle of one of those bottomless domestic arguments that has no end other than death, I was seized with the urge to hire ‘A Moment of Sense.’ I rang the emergency hotline – handily the same number as Grange Girl’s landline - and outlined both sides.
“It’s very simple,” she said briskly. “If you can’t agree on square or round, the obvious solution is triangular.”
“Brilliant, Grangey!”
“Thank you for calling ‘A Moment of Sense’. Please pay by BACS within the next 28 days. Terms and conditions apply.”
She hung up. I hated to denigrate her early steps into capitalism, but I did feel slightly unsure. I turned to Man of the House. “Do they even make triangular tables?”

Beth, 4th Oct 2012. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith.