On Tuesday I ventured up to the beautiful St Pancras International to meet a new client travelling into town from far away. I was early and he was late so I popped in to Pret while I was waiting. The two blokes sitting next to me smiled, said hello then put their heads down over an A3 piece of paper covered in blobs and arrows. After a fair bit of hmmming and not a lot of words, one of them looked at me and asked “Don’t suppose you know anything about customer care strategies…?” Well funny you should mention that! So, one mug of tropical green tea and some business card swapping later, I am pleased to welcome a new potential client… 2000 staff with a nationwide IT contract. That was certainly a case of right café, right time.
And here’s a case of right café, wrong bill, I met Brian for lunch on Thursday. He took me to a lovely place in west London where we reminisced over tuna nicoise and a multi-coloured burger. No pink wine, I don’t do that at lunchtime anymore. And guess how much tip the waiter added to the bill…? Just a mere £272,500 – enough to buy a fairly decent apartment round our way, or a small country in other parts of the world.
Brian is something very important at Cath Kidston, and touring the design offices was so nostalgic; rolls of beautiful floral fabrics squashed along walls covered in the most gorgeous prints, ceramic jugs and other vintage pottery items scattered artfully among colour swatches and books full of loveliness. This is the second time in two weeks I’ve come face to face with my fashionista past. If you don’t already know, Brian and I met when we were both working at Principles; at lunch he described the first time he saw me, but that’s not your business so I won’t be mentioning that.
You’d think that after a quarter of a century there wouldn’t be much we don’t know about each other, but he had some stories he’d never told me that had us both in hysterics. It seems that one day in ‘84, he happened to come across, purely by accident of course, the green striped folded printout pages of the highly confidential payroll report. What he’s kept secret from me for all these years is that – he always knew – the two lowest paid people in the whole of the company were… him and me!! (As a side issue, the statute of limitations on financial theft has passed, so you don’t have to worry about him being arrested as a result of my blogging.) Well, back then I knew I was underpaid compared to the other assistant buyers but I accepted it. I was 18 without a degree and they were all graduates. Would I accept that now? No way! Would you? (Not sure what Brian’s excuse was…) Looking back now, the pay rise that eventually put me in line with the other girls was long overdue. My job went waaay beyond the call of duty – the jewellery buying was lovely, hat selection was obviously fun but lingerie modelling…? Might sound glamorous, but would you like to walk around an office in a lacy teddy with people touching your bum to see how well it fitted? (Please don’t answer that, Deedub!) I sure deserved that pay raise I can tell you. And speaking of lingerie, I was sad to read about La Senza’s liquidation. I must admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the financial reasons but clearly there was a flaw in their business planning. I loved that shop, I wish they’d asked for my help. If your strategies need a fresh eye please feel free to get in touch – always pleased to help keep you solvent.
The Purple Rain album was a worldwide hit around the time Brian and I met, and I still play it regularly. Prince said, “How can you just leave me standing, alone in a world that’s so cold? Maybe I’m just too demanding…?” Well I’m not demanding, I’m asking very nicely: Follow me please. And I won’t just stand there, I’ll happily follow you back… @WeekendWitch