The Lease Is Up

I note that there are a number of premises for lease in…

Everywhere.

Just back from a trip to Melbourne and Sydney and the number of ” for lease ” signs that line the streets are staggering. Not so much on the main city streets – though there are plenty of empty premises in the arcades and back ways. It’s the secondary suburbs that are really quite surprising…even Brunswick Street in Fitzroy – my favourite crap shop and dodgy restaurant district – is thinning out and looking for tenants.

Our own city suburbs have long stretches of highway that are all going begging. But the interesting thing is I bet they are not willing to beg. I suspect the landlords are still trying for every price increase and every winning extra charge that they can get. The fact that they cannot get them hasn’t quite registered.

I even see the foolishness of our local large shopping centre -a place that has a lack of parking space most of the time – ripping up the carpark for more stand-alone businesses at a time when other shops and spaces in their main building are hoarded over.

I am not sure whether it is the lease or the jig that is up…

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Do You Have To Take Your Own Paper Bag To A Sex Shop?

It’s been years since I visited a sex shop. The people who run our local one banned me from the premises after The Incident. I can understand their anger to a certain extent but those things should really have a warning on them if they are flammable.

As retail times have changed, and we are not allowed to get free plastic bags from our grocery stores ( Though we are allowed to pay for as many as we like…) I was wondering if this virtuous concern for the environment ( Supported by extensive memes conducted by the Facebook and Instagram Institute of Science …) extended to other retail trades. For instance:

a. Are we still allowed to take dubious goods out of the sex shop wrapped in discreet bags or are we going to be required to stride out of the place juggling whatever it is that has taken our fancy?

b. Are we going to be allowed to purchase anything that is wrapped in any sort of plastic? Are we going to have to take away rice in handfuls or yoghurt wrapped in newspaper.

c. Is petrol – that damaging and harmful chemical – going to be allowed?

d. Do we need to return old clothing to be permitted to buy new stuff? And if our clothing is not sufficiently worn-out, will we be sent home with a scolding?

e. If animals like cats and dogs are not naturally vegetarians or vegans and are harmed by trying to confine them to these human diets, will we establish a new range of animal-cruelty laws designed to ensure that Towser gets a bone or Tiddles gets some tuna? Or will we require the pet owners to turn Towser and Tiddles in to the Department of Diet for re-education. And if they prove recalcitrant  ( And I have a cat who could recalcitrant for Australia…) will they be liquidated by the state?

f. As most chemicals contain chemicals, can the practice of teaching chemistry in schools be banned. Is it not possible to go back to good old fire, air, water, and phlogistan?

In case you are afraid that people will not stan for this sort of ignorance, may I point to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Rajastan, etc. They’ll stan for anything, apart from bacon.

g. As we are being told that we must consume less while producing more – and that our way of life depends simultaneously on cutting trade with China while buying more of their goods and selling them more of ours – is it possible that we are in the hands of economic as well as social and scientific idiots? Is this not yet another argument for replacing them with seers, wizards, and shamans?

h. Can we blame it on Trump and Scott Morrison? Okay, can we blame it on Brexit? Aw, come on, we have to blame it on someone and if you blame it on someone who is not white you are called a racist…

 

I Become An Influencer*

The cry of the moment is the desirability of becoming an Instagram influencer. But I suspect this – as I suspect most aspects of modern computer life. The suspicion is that the whole circus has passed Instagram by and is way off down the road doing far cooler things to far hotter people. Or vice versa.

I was once accused of being an influencer by a representative of a wholesale camera firm who thought he was not getting enough coverage for his products in my commercial column. He insinuated that another firm had bought me with a free camera. In reality they alerted me to their products with the freebie and I went and spent a vast amount of money on their goods out of my own pocket. Any reports I made were genuine. And as far as pressuring people into following me, the customers have the minds of cats, not sheep. They rarely purr, are not herdable, and occasionally throw up in your shoe.

But back to Instagram. I was cozened into subscribing to it by someone who likes to show off on it and wanted another viewer. I’ve added a few other contacts and a couple of artists and cartoonists and find it a pleasant light browse while dinner is cooking…but not such a vital artistic service as to cause me to allow the soup to boil dry. I do like the colourful art, but I wouldn’t buy anything because of it. And I really don’t think others would either.

Oh, they’ll buy from paper flyers loaded into the post box. They’ll buy from shopping channels that endlessly bombard them with simple instructions. They’ll buy from door-to-door sales cons and Royal Show spruikers. They’ll buy from Harvey Norman. But I don’t think they’ll buy because I’ve posted toy airplane pictures on Instagram.

*  Or should that be an influenza-er. Come here and I’ll sneeze on you.

Author Trees

The author tree is not exactly a distinct botanic species. Author trees can be Elm, Maple, Oak, or any large deciduous variety. In tropic and hot climates Palms and Baobab trees have been very successful author trees. Pine and Fir are less common, though the Giant Redwood of California would be very suitable, if a little deadly.

You see an author tree is a tree which the author of a book that is not selling well will use as a marketing tool. He packs a bag with copies of his book, climbs up the tree, and shinnies out on a limb that hangs over the sidewalk.

When a suitable victim walks under the tree the author drops the book on their head and then pops back into the foliage. The person below suffers a surprising blow on the head and then looks around to see who threw a book at them. Very few ever look up. Then they pick it up and see what it is. In most cases they will start to read it…and if the author has been careful the start it put with a zinger like a murder or a girl taking her clothes off, chances are the sore head will wander off reading the book.

Another fan.

It was not a marketing strategy without risk. Pamphleteers and writers of short stories bombarded the populace with no qualms; their writings were lightweight and safe to drop. Others, like Tolstoy or Zola, caused fractured necks and worse. This explains many of the periods in their lives when they took rapid vacations into the provinces.

Of course you have to make some sacrifices for your art, but these days sacrificing strangers is not viewed well by the authorities. Philistines to a man.

Waiting On Someone To Deliver Something

As opposed to going and getting it yourself.

If there is any way humanly possible, elect to do the latter rather than the former. Because no matter how time-consuming, difficult, or expensive it may be to do your own running around, it is far better than letting someone run you around. And vice versa.

Waiting for a grocery delivery – whether it is Coles or UNESCO, and whether they use a Toyota van or a C-130 – is the pits. You are stuck in one place at the mercy of whatever happens – a delay or a miscalculation means you’ll lose the chance to do anything but sit there. If you decide to sneak off for a crafty kip or crap, that’ll be the exact time the delivery comes. Sometimes the delivery personnel wll be helpful by stacking the ice cream tubs in the sun and sometimes they’ll just beetle off back to the depot and clock off for the day.

On the other side of the steering wheel, I have often been amazed at the trouble that my friend the courier deliveryman has in actually getting in to secure premises to deliver what they have ordered – and how many times he has been sent on wild or mild goose chases by managements that change their mind while he is on the road. He is a tower of patience but there are times when it must be a tower full of armed archers and people with vats of boiling oil…

I will give the food retailers some praise – the goods that arrive are fresh and appetizing, and there have been very few invoices that are short of the mark. Indeed there have been double-ups on some items and the retailer just writes this off as good will. Mind you, when they send you double antacid tablets it makes you a bit leery of the rest of the groceries, eh?

It’s A Fraud, Todd.

It’s a sell, Mel.

It’s a scam, Pam. Oops, sorry, I should have said ” it’s a scamela, Pamela “. Didn’t mean to be overly familiar.

That great business opportunity that you discovered with the other seminar delegates at the holiday resort? That guaranteed opportunity of a lifetime? That golden road to riches, health, and moral re-invigoration? That weekend and an extra day high on marketing?

It’s a con, Don.

Don’t feel bad that you responded as you did. The whole event was structured to make you do so – it was developed as a way to envelope you in a message and to never let you see outside of that indoctrination. You would have had to dive through a window and run away as fast as you could – abandoning dignity, luggage, and any sense of personal worth – to escape it. If they had you on a cruise ship, even that avenue of escape would have been denied.

Whatever money you have given over to the organisers is gone. It will never come back to you. Abandon it to them but do not give them any more – even if they say that you are obliged to do so. Ignore their threats – none of those threateners could stand in front of a magistrate and neither can their demands. Shred anything that you have of their literature and dump it in the compost bin – you may get some value in a few months if it packs down and rots.

Take heart – you have had a valuable lesson. One you need not repeat, but one that you are honour-bound not to inflict upon others. You may not defeat confidence tricksters  by yourself, but you must not strengthen their hand by inadvertently joining them.

 

” I Have Loved You From Afar…”

Cut out the title of this column and keep it ready by the phone. You are bound to get a scam phone call from India around tea-time and it is a very good phrase to use. If you do it with a sweet voice and then say ” Alas…” and let your voice trail away, the caller will not bother you again. They may go home to their little Indian flat in the heat of the night and scratch themselves all over, but that is not your affair.

There are other words and phrases that can help us through our day.

a. ” You are the one I saw yesterday. ”

This is a perfectly innocuous statement that can be spoken to nearly anyone in a public place. It has the ring of truth. It is also quite disconcerting, but no-one knows why.

b. ” You may speak to me now. The restrictions have been lifted. ”

Ditto for (a.). A little riskier because you may find that they have not spoken to anyone for a month and this will open the floodgates. If they start to become agitated, threaten to call a policeman. Call the policeman a bad name and then say the other person said it.

c. ” Your prices seem a little low. I was hoping to pay more. ”

This said to any retail seller will ring alarm bells throughout their whole body. If you then leave the shop they will be left wondering whether they have made a serious mistake somewhere. When they decide to raise their prices storewide, come back in and demand a discount.

d. ” Does your food contain ingredient 453B? Because I am not allowed to eat 453B. It’s on the EEC schedule 2, you know. Do you have a list of ingredients? ”

This said in any eatery, from Jamie Oliver to a pie cart, will cause the owner to bristle like a warthog. The wise ones will throw a pan of hot fat at you and have done with it – the foolish will try to argue their way out of it.

e. ” You were recommended to me by your competitors. “…here you can insert the name of an actual business rival for better effect.

The person you are speaking to will be flattered and frightened. Are you a plant or a trojan horse designed to make a nightmare of the place? Have you been so unpleasant at another shop that they have desperately sent you here? Or are you a chance for a big sale?

A variant on this is to say that you have been recommended by several other firms – and give their names…but the kicker is none of them are in the same business as the shop you are in…

f. ” Do you mind being recorded for evidence? ”

If they say yes, you ask what they have to hide. If they say no you ask whether they realise what is being said about them at the department. Have them speak clearly into your top coat button.