Wednesday, 19 August 2009


I discovered fairly early in my search for a career that I was not cut out to be a salesman. My first effort came as a student when I had a summer job driving round selling ice cream. I should correct that to trying to sell ice cream! This was in the late 1960's before decimalisation and I was selling cornets at sixpence each (about 2.5 pence). The deal was that I was paid either 10% of my sales or £1 whichever was the greater for a 5-hour shift. Now I'm sure that your Maths has informed you that I needed to sell more than 40 cornets to start earning extra money. That may not seem too arduous a task but it was beyond my talents and after a week of earning the equivalent of 20p per hour I jacked it in.

Undaunted, my next attempt at becoming a salesman involved going from door to door selling vacuums. I was told that I would receive full training for this which turned out to be accompanying an experienced salesman as he did his thing. I watched him sell several of the machines and the time came when I was sent off on my own to attempt a sale.

The address was that of a gentleman who had phoned to request a visit so prospects looked good. I did the confident greeting. I showed him the handsome looking cylinder vacuum and then did the demonstration being completely adept at plugging it in then pushing it round the carpet. Now I was ready to close the deal but as I pulled out the paperwork disaster struck. He asked me to show him how to remove the tube, re-assemble it and fit attachments. There followed what must have appeared to be an octopus wrestling contest as I grappled with tubes and connectors until the sweat was dripping off me. He decided to find an easier machine and I decided to find an easier career.

Now you might feel that I would already have established that selling was not for me but apparently I was a slow learner because not long afterwards, I found myself sitting in a small flat which was home to a family who clearly had only a little money but a lot of children, four of them in fact. I watched as the salesman I was with convinced the father that he would be letting his children down and ruining their education if he didn't buy the 24-volume set of encyclopaedias which to my mind were an outrageous price. The life-changing moment for me was when, as the father signed the paperwork committing himself to a string of hefty monthly payments, I noticed for the first time, that there was a set of older but perfectly good encyclopaedias on the shelf behind him. That was the point at which my career choice veered sharply away from being a salesman.

Nevertheless, I am going to have one final attempt at selling you on the idea of buying a household item. After a lifetime of using a wide variety of can openers with varying degrees of success I believe I have finally found the perfect one. Though a little more expensive than some at just under £16, after many months of use I can vouch for the fact that it opens the can first time, every time. It leaves no sharp edges. It doesn't make contact with the contents of the can so doesn't need washing after use. It's made by the Swiss with their watch-making precision. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Zyliss Can opener. Have I sold you on it?


  1. Hi Tony , I love that picture of your little daughter and yourself . What wonderful memories. I bet she grew up to be a wonderful person. I really look forward to your blog it is so interesting , and sometimes humorous and one can identify with your experiences.P.s the Zyliss can opener does sound tempting ? Looking fwd to next blog .. Karen , From the grt wht North

  2. Ah, too funny! I found out fairly young that I was not salesperson material also. I stunk at selling anything to anyone. Too honest I am. :) I'll have to look into your Zyliss can opener....

  3. I will look for a zyliss on my next shopping trip to the big city :o)