“We would like to use a local agent rather than the ‘big boys’,” says a bright-red sunburnt lady with bosoms like two fried tomatoes who has just plonked herself down in the seat in front of me.
“How can I help?” I ask, knowing that it’s unlikely I can but I do like a challenge.
“We have found this online,” I’m told, as a ream of printouts are pushed towards me.
Imperial Beach Paphos is headlining.
“That’s a lovely hotel,” I tell her. “Yes”, she says, “But we don’t want any kids there and we can’t fly on a Saturday and we only want Exeter.”
I inform her that, sadly, Saturday is the only day the flights go from Exeter and it’s not an adult-only hotel.
This goes down like a lead balloon as she sits and stares at me.
I’m sure she is waiting for me to say that I will call TUI and have them reschedule the flights, then call the hotel and ask them to not allow children for the week she wants to stay.
She finally pipes up: “Is there anything you can do?”
Like a young Roger Federer, I put the ball firmly back in her court.
“What would you like me to do?”
Another two-minute stare and she announces she will have a rethink and get back to me.
I won’t hold my breath but feel it’s a lucky escape for the ‘big boys’…
Living in a small seaside town has lots of advantages but also lots of issues.
If I close the shop for a few days away, it’s automatically assumed I’ve gone bust as the rumour mills spring into action.
I always have a sign on the door to say normal service will resume shortly, but the local Hetty Wainthropps – of which there are many – soon have the gossip flying.
My ears were burning while away for a few days in London this week when I had the shop exterior repainted and the two main signs replaced.
I asked the sign man to remove the old and replace the new at the same time so as not to give anyone the wrong idea.
However, as soon as the old signs were down, he had an emergency, which meant my shopfront was without signage for about 20 hours.
Amid the numerous texts, emails and calls asking if I was alright, there was one asking if they could have the landlord’s details, as my prime position would suit their new business down to the ground.
Not the sort of word-of-mouth one would hope for…
Read more Tales from the Secret Agent here.