I am heartened to see that a great trading friendship is developing between the villagers and the people of Tarboosh.
At first, it took a while for them to get used to the cultural differences in the shopping experience.
I noticed a desert tribesman, trying to buy a pair of shoes in Miss Botany's shoe shop, had some difficulty with our quaint ways. "It says four pounds on the ticket," Miss Botany was saying very loudly and clearly. "What's the use of saying you'll give me two?"
I must say, I had some difficulty at first, myself. I wished to purchase some rather nice carpets for the tower and the seller was dumbfounded when I just offered the price on the ticket. It seems that it is deemed discourteous not to indulge in the game of haggling and he was most put out that I made no effort. I soon got into the swing of things and by the end, although I had beaten him down to half the price, the merchant seemed most pleased. "Sire, you had me fooled - you truly are a great exponent of the barter!" he declared. "Well, I am a world renowned business tycoon" I admitted.
It seems that we may all have to get used to this form of trading in these recessionary times. The news from Homeward is not good. My brother says that it is a veritable blood bath on the highstreets. Last Christmas Cheapman was selling motorcycles for a halfpenny. This year, apparently, he is offering a two for one deal on them.
Poor old Dearman is in a state of great distress. He has very little business usually, anyway, because he steadily increases the price of goods every day. This year he has had to actually reduce them - his battered tin milk jugs are only £21 now. He used to do a roaring trade - selling broken rustic items, to gullible rich people enchanted by their 'retro' charm. But, with so many financial whizz kids out of work the discount shops are rising in popularity - and even the the formally wealthy have decided to shop at Cheapmans.
I must say there is nothing like a bit of shopping to improve ones mood and disposition.
I decide to purchase a splendid purple kaftan - when in Rome do as the Romans do, as they say. There is a particularly hot dry wind here, and it is good to wear something that allows the air to circulate. Beaver made some remark about me looking like Demis Roussos
- whoever he is?
Even Beaver has relaxed a bit - he is hobnobbing with the Amir's at the camp of the local desert tribe. The silent old men of the village sit under the palm trees with the silent old men of the desert, watching goat races. They are most impressed by Beaver's riding skills.
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