Sunday, March 02, 2008

Thursday 17th March 1938

How luxuriously sleepy I felt, when it was time to turn-out! Up 8:30. On the road by 10 a.m.

The international situation is pretty sticky at present. Every client with whom I talk, mentions the possibility of warfare. “It was like this in 1914, just before the Great War” said a Shoeburyness builder, very seriously.

I visited Colonel Buckland, the ARP Officer today, in response to a letter from him. Frightfully busy man; scores of people calling to offer help, or be reassured. Nice of him to trouble about me. He wanted me to help in the office! This being impossible – I’ve got other work to do! – he gave me a rather interesting spare time job. I am to investigate the possibilities of emergency air raid shelters – cellars in pubs etc – and report on their suitability. Things seem rather serious.

Dashed to Grays this afternoon. Beacon Store Co. had again sent in an enquiry for our prices and discounts. Billings had apparently shown (very cunningly) the pro-forma invoice sent to Leonard’s Stores, suggesting it was an actual invoice for goods supplied, and addressed to himself. So the dramatic Mr Saunders made a brilliant speech. “My impression of you,” he said deliberately, watching me, “was that you were a very capable, courteous, honest and efficient representative. I do not say that my impression was wrong. (I squirmed inwardly.) I do not say that you cleverly and deliberately mislead us. But I do say that, if this was not the case, then you yourself were misinformed. Your statements were incorrect”. A dramatic pause, then he rapped out, “You have been supplying Billings, less 33 1/3%!”

The situation was well in hand however. “How do you know this?” I began. “You have seen an invoice, haven’t you? But it was a pro-forma invoice, wasn’t it? And the discounts were from retail, not trade. And it was not addressed to Billings but to a merchant.” This mass of information staggered Mr Saunders, but only for a moment. “No further evidence is necessary” he declared to his traveller, Carter. “You are the one who is wrong”. “Yes sir, I am wrong. I jumped to conclusions“ said Carter with equal dramatic effect. “Mr Dawson has the whole thing at his finger tips.” “He certainly has, Sir.” (It was like one of those Soviet treason trials, when the accused agrees to everything the prosecutor says.)

Afterwards they laid plans for securing Billings orders. Very cleverly. I admire Mr Saunders! Remembering my father’s advice, I “came clean” and explained the whole Leonard’s Store business, how we turned the order down etc. I admitted that Billings had since obtained our products through another and reputable, merchant. Didn’t divulge the name, of course. So now Beacon Store Co. know as much as Norman and Co. Wonder who will get the business?

Nothing definite to do this evening. Just “make and mend”. Now it is twenty past ten and I am going to bed. Guess I’ll sleep damn well!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home