Some time ago, I discovered that one of the chairs in my front hall had a broken leg. I didn’t foresee any great difficulty in getting it mended, as there are a whole lot of antique shops in Pimlico Road, which is three minutes’ walk from my flat. So, I set forth one morning carrying the chair with me. I went into the first shop confidently expecting a friendly reception, with a kindly man saying: “What a charming chair. Yes, that’s quite a simple job. When would you want it back?” I was quite wrong.
The man I approached wouldn’t even look at it. I wasn’t too concerned; after all, it was only the first try and there are many more shops on both sides of the road. The reaction at the second shop, though slightly politer, was just the same, and at the third and the fourth, so I decided that my approach must be wrong.
I entered the fifth shop with some confidence because had concocted a plan. I placed the chair gently on the floor so as not to disturb the damaged leg and said “Would you like to buy a chair?” The rather fierce proprietor looked it over carefully and said, “Yes, not a bad little chair. How much do you want for it?” “£20,” I said. “OK,” 20 he said, “I’ll give you £20.” “It’s got a slightly broken leg,” I said. “Yes, I saw that; it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Everything was going to plan and I was getting excited. “What will you do with it?” I asked.
“Oh, it will be very saleable once the repair is done. I like the bit of old green velvet on the top. I shall leave that yes, very saleable.” “I’ll buy it,” I said. “What d’ye mean? You’ve just sold it to me,” he said. “Yes I know, but I’ve changed my mind. As a matter of fact, it is just what I’m looking for – I’ve got its pair at home. I’ll give you 27 quid for it.” “You must be crazy,” he said. Then suddenly the penny dropped and he smiled and said, “I know what you want. You want me to mend your chair, don’t you?” “You’re plumb right,” I said. “And what would you have done if I had walked in and said, ‘Would you mend this chair for me?’ Would you have repaired it?” “No, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “We don’t do repairs – not enough money in it and too much of a nuisance.
However, I’ll mend this chair for you – shall we say a fiver?” He was a very nice man and thought the whole episode rather funny