Tag Archives: customers

Coppers, Cats and Chancers

Today we had eight customers and only one bothered to ring for an appointment. Even he rang before we were open and insisted on coming in at 10 am, before we were really ready for customers.

I’m going to stop answering the phone before we are open.

One of the others wasn’t even wearing a mask. When I asked him to put one on he told me he had one in the car. So I put one on the counter for him, which he ignored. However, as he was moving towards the door as he asked questions we replied and let him back out.

He had a silver Afghani wedding belt and a broken gold Rolex to sell. I looked the wedding belt up on Wikipedia, there’s a lot about Afghan jewellery but not much about the belts. It’s not really our sort of stuff.

photo of british shorthair cat sitting on grass field

Photo by Kirsten Bu00fchne on Pexels.com

We also try to avoid copy Rolex watches, whether broken or not. (If you’d seen him it wouldn’t have entered your mind that it was likely to be genuine either). There are a lot of narrow-faced chancers in our line, and the aura of mendacity lay heavy around him.

Chances are that if it’s a copy it isn’t gold either.

If, by any remote possibility, it is real it’s most likely stolen, and we don’t want that either.

I once bought a stolen item and it can get complicated. It was even more complicated because it was a police helmet and it had disappeared after being knocked of the wearers head in a scuffle in slab square.

It’s not unusual for used police helmets to come on the market, so it didn’t ring any alarm bells at the time. If you search “police helmets” on eBay there are 53 traditional British police helmets on the first two pages alone. That suggests there are about 300 helmets up for sale from the 600 items that come up on the search.

Such was my defence…

man in officer s uniform black standing during parade

Photo by Marianna on Pexels.com

I took the pictures from the Pexels site by searching for British Police. It turned up one useful photo of a British policeman and quite a few of cats – I think they are British Blues.

 

Man in a Mask

I was down at the hospital just after eight and left twenty five minutes later, having seen four people breach what I consider acceptable mask etiquette.

One was a staff member chatting to the woman on hygiene duty at the entrance. No mask, despite the signs. Two was a patient, with his mask pulled down to leave his nose uncovered. The benefits of masks are still debatable, but the benefits of wearing one badly are even less obvious. Third was a receptionist who emerged from the office maskless, but laden with a coffee jar and several mugs. She disappeared into a cleaning cupboard to (I assume) make coffee. They spend all that money building the place and the staff have to make coffee in the broom cupboard. Who designs these things? Finally, as I left a doctor arrived. He took a mask from the table at the entrance and just held it to his face as he walked through the building. Is that the sort of grudging use of a mask you expect from a senior member of staff? Are his ears too grand for elastic? What will he do if he needs to use that hand (the other was grasping an attache case)?

All in all, not a great endorsement for the use of masks or the common sense of the staff.

Meanwhile, back at the blood test, I was stabbed in the arm by a woman who had clearly been taught to use a bayonet rather than a needle. As pain radiated through my body I was glad to note that my arm went dead. Whether that was because she hit a nerve or because the band was tight around my arm, I don’t know. I was just glad to lose the feeling. I have had better testing sessions.

I arrived at work an hour and a half early and started packing parcels. We only had three to do and I then took the selfies I am using with this post and started cataloguing medallions of Edward VIII. Many of them are bland. Some are dull, others anodyne.  And still more of them are boring, uninspired or unremarkable.

Empire Day Medal - Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII

Empire Day Medal – Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII

Some are very interesting but unfortunately many are not. You will learn more, whether you want to or not, as I write my posts on collectables.

At lunchtime we had a customer call, without appointment. She was a nice lady who wore a mask. and sold us some coins her father had put to one side. Some were silver, so she walked away with nearly £50.

Then we had thin man, also with no appointment, who had a copy ancient Greek coin as sold to tourists in happier days. It was worthless and he ejected little blobs of spittle as he spoke. Several fell on my hands. I held my breath and regretted not wearing a mask.

Finally we had a collector who looked at our Saxon coins and bought one before deciding to buy himself a second-hand coin cabinet as a belated birthday treat.

It was a very mixed day.

My sister made my mask. It has a nose clip and is generally an excellent mask, fitting well and being quite comfortable in wear. It is, if I could find any fault, perhaps a mask with a pattern more suited to an aunt, or a coin dealer wanting to get in touch with his feminine side, but it is a minor point.

Julia has just made sausage and mash with carrot and parsnip mash, sprouts and onion sauce – a nice plate of comfort food for the end of a wintry day. I will load the photos and go to eat.

All in all, apart from the stabbed arm and the spittle shower, it has been an excellent day.

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A man in a chintz mask

The End of the Beginning…

I was encouraging my dining room computer to greater efforts last night, because I felt it was deliberately slowing down and refusing to obey commands just to wind me up. Shouting isn’t a long term answer, we really need a new computer, but it provides some short-term relief. In this, a computer resembles a teenager, though teenagers do eventually improve. On the other hand, you can switch a computer off and it never empties your fridge.

As I paused for breath I heard Julia say: “Simon, can you stop swearing please?”

This led to our usual discussion about me and my right to freedom of speech and how it was hardly even swearing compared to some of the things I could have said and how…

“Will you **** shut up, you foul-mouthed ****!”

I’ll leave you fill in the gaps. Unlike the tabloid press I have deliberately left the words unidentifiable. If you are going to blank out the bad language I’ve never seen the point of adding the initial letter and the exact number of asterisks. You may as well just print the word. As I know my readership contains churchgoers and grandmothers I tend to be honest in admitting that my language is not good, but refrain from exposing the true depravity of my language. Too many years spent working in the company of rough men. I really should stop it, but like vegetarianism and exercise, I seldom persist in my improvements for long. Te only two things I have really ever given up have been smoking and hard work. I have not done either for over 20 years.

It seems that Julia had just been adding sound to a video she had done for work and my advice to the computer meant she was going to have to do it all again. There really are times when I realise I’ve been a bad influence on her.

Chastened, I carried on typing, but when the computer seized up again I made my displeasure obvious with the use of hand signals.

It’s a good thing that we are doing more days at work in the coming week, as lockdown is beginning to change me. First I started eating too many biscuits, then I pretended to be a bear and now I’m making offensive hand gestures at a computer.

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Salon closed

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Salon closed

We’ve each been in twice a week for the last two weeks to do the eBay work and answer the phone. From this week we are going in four days a week and there will be two of us in the shop each day. I will be at work tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

In two weeks time we will start letting customers in by appointment. I spoke to someone by telephone today – he has had a queue outside all day wanting new watch batteries. A lot of watches ran out of power over the last few months.

It’s going to be a long slow recovery from lockdown.

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

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Picture of Desertion and Dejection

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Oh dear…

Deflation, Doom and Disappointment

I was feeling quite buoyant when I returned home.

The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.

Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.

Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.

And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.

Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.

This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.

As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”

As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.

People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.

Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.

I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.

They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?

I am now downcast, deflated and disappointed.

Dreams and Confessions

I woke early this morning. You can probably tell that from the fact I was able to post before going to work. I woke around 4.30 after having a bad dream. I can’t tell you what it was about but it featured being trapped in tunnels and saying more risks having unwelcome Freudian interpretations forced on me.

After a trip to the bathroom went back to sleep until 5.30 when I awoke convinced that the police were about to tow my camper van away because I’d obstructed someone’s driveway by parking it round the corner from the house. This was very vivid and it was a few seconds before I realised that I didn’t have a camper van and didn’t have a corner to park anything round.

The subconscious is a weird and wonderful thing. Mainly, in my case, weird. It’s not many years since I dreamed I was a spinning top on a fairground ride and woke up to find I was in mid-air, having spun myself out of bed. To be fair, I wasn’t in mid-air for long as gravity did its part rapidly and efficiently.

Julia said: “Have you broken anything?”

I assured her I was OK.

“I meant the bedside table. I knew you’d bounce.”

And they say romance is dead…

Then there was the time I woke up screaming because the giant rat was eating my leg, only to find the “jaws” were my own hands grasping my leg.

Anyway, I popped into wakefulness again at 7.01, which is my normal weekday time (I normally allow myself to lie in until 8.00 on Saturday as I don’t have to run Julia to work). It seemed pointless to go back to sleep so I got up, had the last of the Chinese takeaway for breakfast, blogged, made my sandwiches (yes, cheese again), went to the local shop, did some long-term financial planning (or bought a lottery ticket if you prefer the unvarnished version) and turned up at work just in time to get the last parking space. For some reason everyone thinks they can park in front of the shop on Saturday, even though they are nothing to do with us.

We had quite a crowd in at one time and succeeded in getting a customer to join the Numismatic Society. We had nine customers and three staff in at one time. In the old shop you were uncomfortably full if you had three customers and if you had four you had to synchronise your breathing.

By four I was glad to escape and go shopping with Julia. I say “go shopping” but we have developed a routine that features us having a toasted teacake and a mug of tea before she goes round the shop while I sit and read the paper. It suits me because I’m a lazy male chauvinist pig and it suits her because she hasn’t got someone trailing round behind her complaining about prices.

The rot started  a few years ago when I found myself nodding and saying “Yes dear.” when I wasn’t actually listening. I’d always said I wouldn’t do that, but once it started, the rest seemed to follow naturally.

That, I think, is enough for now. To continue risks me getting a flea in my ear if either Julia or my sister read this. Like Bertie Wooster, I have a set of female relatives who can be fearsome when annoyed.

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Nearly there!

The pictures show one of the answers to my question from yesterday – where does all the time go?

Robins, stamps and Robbie Burns

The featured image is one of the robin Christmas stamps from 1995. I have looked them up and can yell you there were five of them. I can’t recall any of the other designs – this is the only one we seem to get.

We also have a fine selection of Scottish mini-sheets.

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Off to Australia

It seems, looking at the prices charges by stamp dealers, that we are being awfully extravagant in using these stamps for letters. In fact you can buy lots of stamps in the trade for below face value. There are even companies that specialise in this sort of thing – search “discounted stamps”if you want any.

Much of my working day was spent packing parcels as we kept getting orders through the day. We also had phone calls and a few customers actually visited the shop, despite the boarding.

One or two mentioned the boards with questions like “Have you been robbed?”. To which, after a few polite answers, we started replying “No, we’re just going for a shabby chic look.”. A few more and it was “No, we’ve joined a Blitz re-enactment society.”

If anyone else had asked there was a danger, by the end of the day, of the answer being less than polite.

There’s only so much to be said.

The rest of the day was taken up with moving stock and furniture round in preparation for our new security precautions. It appears we are not allowed to dig pits and line them with spikes.Or use guns and tripwires. Or train rottweilers to attack people wearing hoods and concealing their faces.It’s the nanny state gone mad, I tell you!

The spell-checker wants to remove “rottweilers” and substitute “erstwhile”. I originally spelt it “rottweillers” and the suggested alternative was “steamrollers”. I’ve often wondered how these things work. I’m definitely no wiser after this last selection.

I’ve given myself the night off tonight and watched TV with Julia instead of trying to force the writing. I’m not sure she’s grateful.

Another Busy Day

Yesterday we had end to end customers, and the same was true today. Earlier in the week we had a Guildhall Coronation Medal brought into the shop with a selection of other medals associated with Guildhall dinners and the Freemasons. We weren’t able to buy them, though we did buy the associated coins. The owner has taken them home to talk to their children and decide what to do. This is an example photograph from the internet as I didn’t think to ask if I could take a photograph at the time.

The photographs below are ones I took of an interesting group of medals that came into the shop today. They represent 38 years in the army, with six tours – three in the Balkans (one with the UN and two with NATO) and three in Afghanistan. The last three medals are the Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and the Army Long Service and Good Conduct medal. We tend not to give a lot of medals out. The silver laurel leaves are the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service, which the recipient was awarded for his services in Helmand Province.

Modern Group with QCVS

Modern Group with QCVS

Lots more happened, but that, for me, was the most interesting part. I’m a man who is easily satisfied.

Hard Day at the Shop

Obviously “hard” is a comparative term. Six hours sitting in a heated shop packing parcels and chatting to customers is not hard compared to some of my previous jobs, and they weren’t hard compared to working on a trawler or building skyscrapers.

However, from starting to finishing, there was scarcely a moment when we didn’t have a customer in, often two or three at a time.  We sold quite a lot in the morning, spent over £1,000 buying during the afternoon and ended up selling some more. We did all this with just two people as the boss was off at the York Coin Fair. We often have busy days when he’s away.

Souvenir Medal Castle Rising Norfolk

Souvenir Medal Castle Rising Norfolk

This is one of the medallions we put on eBay. At this sort of magnification you can clearly see  the reflection of my camera and a large quantity of dust. It’s not a stunning level of professionalism is it?

Southwell Minster Souvenir Medallion

Southwell Minster Souvenir Medallion

I see we’ve already sold seven items on eBay, so we will have to get a move on, as the Post Office closes at noon.

While the Cat is away…

It was all going so well…

I dropped Julia off at work, parked right outside the shop, found all the stock for eBay parcels on my first attempt and had everything ready for the post by the time Eddie turned up. The Boss was at the York Coin Fair today so I was then able to relax.

I wrote a reply to an email that had arrived overnight, and then kept my fingers crossed.  Then I wrote another email, demanding action from someone who was being slow with a parcel.

Finally, I composed a message to KFC in my head. I had to administer a touch of firmness to them earlier in the week after a rather disorganised meal on Sunday. We ordered four things – they were only able to supply one. Not good enough,  I told them.

Their, reasonably quick, reply agreed with me, told me that training would be administered and told me they looked forward to seeing me again soon.

Why would I go back soon after the meal I just had (a very different one from the one we had ordered)? The staff were disorganised, the manager was ranting and the bins were overflowing. And it was not as if they were busy. It was a far cry from the last meal I enjoyed there.

After reading their reply, I was left with the distinct impression that they were taking the mickey.

The last laugh is with me, of course. I will stop eating KFC, will save money, lose weight and, in all probability, be better off without them.

As I was savouring my imaginary victory my mobile rang with the reply from the first email. It was a positive reply, which was good.

I then put some things on eBay, served customers, unwillingly stayed an hour late to serve another customer, went back at 7.00 the see another customer (by arrangement  – he’s a market trader who needed stock but had been unable to get down sooner).

Now, after refreshment, I’m off to pick up Number Two son from work. It’s cheaper than paying for the bus.

 

 

 

Sixpences, Sweethearts and Samosas

It was a hectic morning, with fourteen eBay parcels to be packed and sent off before the Post Office closed at lunchtime. We would have managed it easily, working together as a well-oiled machine, if it hadn’t been for the arrival of a shopful of customers.

It’s a real dilemma – we want to provide a quick and efficient eBay service, but our core business is based on the customers who come to the shop so we can’t neglect them.

We were expecting a quiet day as two of the Saturday regulars came in on Friday, but it didn’t work out like that. Within the first hour we were full with people buying and selling and the post had to wait. We got most of it done in time, though some will not be going into the post until Monday. Such is life. It’s not ideal but we are still within the time allowed for posting.

During the rush I managed to sell a nice Victorian sixpence to a young collector who is just starting to collect coins. Hopefully it will be the start of a lifelong collecting habit, and hopefully he will continue collecting good stuff instead of modern decimal coins. We owe a lot to decimal coins, as they are fuelling a great interest in coin collecting, but I can’t help wondering if it will still be popular in ten years, or if it will be a bubble that bursts.

In the afternoon we also managed to sort more shillings, put several lots on eBay and polish the counters. One of the later customers bought us samosas from the Indian shop across the road, which proved to be an acceptable snack with our afternoon coffee.

I’ve described one of the sweetheart brooch lots as having a pin that has been “replaced at sometime in the past”. I resisted the temptation to tell them that it had actually been replaced by me five minutes before I took the photos for eBay. It’s not a bad job, even if I say so myself. It came from the back of a cracked enamel badge that said Delegate and involved two sets of long-nosed pliers and a certain amount of muttering.

This is the brooch – a WW2 mother of pearl sweetheart brooch for the Royal Armoured Corps.

We have several more on sale, including these two for the Middlesex Regiment.  The one on the left is a silver and enamel tie-pin or bar brooch, the one on the right is silver, with hallmarks for 1915. It’s an interesting subject for collecting, with all military units depicted in a variety of styles, though I often wonder who gave them and if they came back.