Tuesday, May 13, 2014

On The Wasting of my Time

 (The delicious fruits from the Cashew Nut tree in the Djenné Djenno garden have nothing to do with what follows)...

Two annoying incidents recently  have made me remember something that happened a long time ago when the department store Barkers on Kensington High Street still existed. It was like this :

I popped in briefly to Barkers to buy something. I was approached by a  highly groomed, smooth talking shop employee who wanted to know if I would like to acquire a Barkers store card. I said no. The salesman- it was a man if I remember correctly- was not so easily put off. ‘But it will only take two minutes!’ he assured me. I objected that it wasn’t a question of lack of time, I simply didn’t want a store card. Even this failed to dampen his enthusiasm. ‘Just come with me, Madam’, he continued undeterred, leading me lightly by my elbow to a small office where he told me to sit down on a sofa while the formalities were taken care of. I don’t know where Barkers  trained their staff or who trained them, but the technique was spectacularly successful. I found myself sitting on this sofa, although I quietly wondered to myself what I was doing there, especially since the minutes were ticking away. The store employee popped his head around the corner : ‘Only a moment to wait now !’ he beamed encouragingly when he saw me fidgeting and about to leave.  Finally he  turned up and announced gravely : ‘Sorry Madam, your application has been refused !’

When this blog was nominated one of the the 25 best blogs of the world last year by Time Magazine I was approached by two American agents who wanted me to turn it into a book. It is not the first time this suggestion has been made to me. I have always replied that I am not ready and that I am in the middle of a story that is not finished. This is what I said once again. I am too busy to live my life in Mali to be able to stand back and write about it. However, I was persuaded to give it a try and I felt it might be churlish and ungrateful not to attempt it.  So I wrote a couple of chapters and spent quite some time on this, without much conviction however. My attempt was rejected by the agent that had been soliciting me . Apparently my effort lacked narrative drive. It may well be true and I am the first to acnowledge that I am not ready to write about my Mali life yet, but nevertheless rather annoying …

And a couple of days ago I received an email from an Austrian firm called EZA World Shops who said they dealt with Fair Trade. They had heard of MaliMali and they wondered if we might be interested in selling our products to them. I wrote back and said yes, we would be interested. Then they sent me  voluminous PDF files about their operation and what Fair Trade implied. Would I please read through the requirements, they asked. ‘Sure’ I agreed obediently. Three hours later I had plowed through it all and sent off an email to tell them so. ‘Now would you please send us some broschures or some pictures to show us your products, came the disconcerting reply. Surely they had seen the MaliMali website, which is why they had contacted me ??  I then sent them the link to the site and they replied that they would pass it on to their buying department. This department then wrote me an email to say that they thought the products were lovely but they did not think their company would have the market for them, so therefore no thanks !!


Blogger Marianne said...

A great comment on modern life Sophie. Love the photo.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Andy Rayner said...

"I am not ready and that I am in the middle of a story that is not finished." Wow... this phrase is so siscint, yet captures why one has trouble getting the experience out... not ready, and not over yet.... so who knows the ending yet??????

7:57 PM  

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