Where Do You Go To?

When I am not in the studio it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not working on my art.

River Journey, Bridget Macklin, 2014

Armed with a trowel and a plastic bag.

Given that my art is about landscape I am often to be found wandering the countryside with a small trowel, a pocket full of zip lock sandwich bags and an indelible pen – just in case the urge takes me – but there are masses of other activities involved which are somewhat less glamorous.  Social media takes up a lot of my time.  Research; planning; applications for competitions, galleries, grants etc all have their place as does the designing, ordering, collecting and delivering of advertising which might or might not hit the right spot and lead to sales.

E-invitation

Consider yourself invited!

This week I have been delivering fliers for our up-coming exhibition at Fountain Gallery, near Hampton Court.  Each of the 3 artists involved took 800 fliers to push through letter boxes.  It doesn’t sound much but, believe me, it can take hours.

You need to find the posh houses, those with two expensive cars outside, because these are where the people with disposable income live.  So we are talking approximately 800 security gates to decipher, 800 long drives, 4800 steps to front doors and indiscriminate quantities of gravel.  I think that I have walked the length of Chesil Beach this week!

Then there are the letter boxes themselves.  High up and you have to jump, low down and the bag full of fliers on your shoulder swings round to give you a hefty clout on the knee as you reach down to push through.  Whilst horizontal flaps can be relatively easy, vertical flaps are always a nuisance.  They need two hands: one to hold the flap up and one to push the flier through.  If the flap is too small you have to fold your expensive flier in half, spoiling the impact somewhat, and if too many of the springs are too strong you risk repetitive strain injury in both thumbs from forcible pushing.

I have eventually learned to be suitably cautious of ‘Beware of the Dog’ signs.  At one residence I saw the sign, heard the dog and assumed small because of the pitch of the bark.  What I didn’t spot until he had the flier in his mouth was that miniature yappy dog’s best friend, gigantic Irish Wolf Hound, had been watching me for some time through the upper part of the door.

128268082393913144600101197_IRISH_WOLFHOUND[1]

Let me take that for you!

 I learned to dread the letter boxes with a flap on the inside as well as the outside most of all.  Not only do you not know what is in store until you are committed to the action, but the inner flap is inclined to want to hold you prisoner causing nasty biting injuries as you withdraw your last finger and the flap snaps shut.  And you can’t even shove the entire bundle into a post box and dash home because, unlike other types of junk mail, you paid for these out of the yet-to-be-seen profits of the exhibition so they have to hit their mark come rain or shine and I don’t mind telling you that I didn’t see much of the shine!

The doors themselves make interesting studying.  I am really into front doors at the moment as we are trying to decide on the design and colour for our house in Cornwall.  It seems that grey is the colour.  I did see other hues but grey is predominant and, whilst I couldn’t possibly comment on what goes on behind them, there really are 50 shades for the exterior décor of posh houses in 2017!  I must have seen pale dove grey, dark satanic grey, blue grey, green grey, purple grey . . . . . . I think we might be going for bright red in St Mawes.

After wearing my legs down by several inches I decided to try doing it by bike.  It is a while since I rode my bike but after a few preliminary wobbles I was off up the road.  It didn’t take long before I was gazing at the tarmac at close quarters though.  I had forgotten the need to disengage feet from pedals when approaching a roundabout and was now face down in the middle of the road feeling embarrassingly representative of Nurse Chummy from  Call the Midwife.

images4UGNS9MM

Given my new found respect for the postie, I shall be using one of these.

I have decided that, out of a new found sense of respect for the postie, I shall be having an external letter box in Cornwall.  It will be positioned at a height which does not involve bending double and it will be located at the end of the drive so that the postie can lean over and shove the mail through without ever having to disengage his feet from his bike pedals as he passes by.  Enjoy the link!

 

This is just not cricket!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a delightful person wanting to buy some work that his wife had seen on my website.  After a couple of emails he settled on two pieces with a combined value of £1000.  They were for a special wedding anniversary present.

to-my-special-wife-happy-anniversary[1]

He wanted a special present for his wife.

I was over the moon.  No-one had ever spent this much on my work in one go and I was so pleased that they were going to be a special present.  The discussion coincided with my best month since setting up as an artist;  I felt as if the world was alright!

 

A cheque was sent.  But no sooner had he emailed me to say that he had posted my money than he sent me another email to tell me that, due to a misunderstanding, he (well his accounts manager) had made the cheque out for too much.  Please could I cash the cheque when it arrived and repay him the excess.  Sure, I could do that.  No problem.  I nearly sent the money before the cheque arrived.  This man was charming and not only buying a generous present from me but also now out of pocket.

列印

The poor guy was out of pocket and I felt bad.

 

What stopped me?  Prudence – and a strange feeling about the communications.  Before very long I began to be pressurised by daily emails asking if the money had arrived.  I stalled – I wanted the confidence that the cheque had been honoured by the bank.  There were tell tail signs that something wasn’t quite right but I felt really guilty for thinking them.  One should never treat one’s customers with suspicion – right?  Yet I couldn’t help wondering.  Firstly the cheque was in euros but he wanted the repayment in sterling and into a different bank.  Secondly his English was not good – not a crime but when added to other suspicions it seemed to begin to matter.  In addition, he kept talking about visiting his post office to know if I had repaid the money – why would he do that?  Why not call his bank or check online?  Then there was the intensity of the emails which was, by now, beginning to make me feel quite stressed.

Technique_Adverb_AlarmBells-01[1]

Alarm bells were beginning to ring.

I called my bank to ask how soon the money would be available and was told that, because it was in euros, it could take six weeks.  Now I felt really bad.  The poor guy!  Should I pay him his money and send the goods?  What if we missed his anniversary because I was being so cautious and tight?

Eventually I got a letter from the bank.  The cheque had been cleared.  The money was in my account.  But the last part of the letter told me that, until they had checked it fully, I could not be confident that it would remain there.  Really??  Surely now I should give this guy his money.  I didn’t.  Why not?  Because he was now being rather a nuisance in his emails and I decided to make him sweat – whilst also feeling really guilty about it.

Two days later I received another letter from the bank telling me that the funds were no longer in my bank, that they were charging me £15 costs and that the cheque was probably fraudulent.  I wrote to my customer telling him what had happened and asking him to get in touch.  Oddly, the daily emails now came to an abrupt end.  48 hours later I received a call from the fraud department at the bank asking me for details of the transaction.  As a result of the conversation that I had with the bank I contacted the police who are now dealing with it.

It turns out that this scam is currently doing the rounds and that it is directed chiefly at artists and other self employed people with a small turnover.  The charm and the warm fuzzy story at the start are all part of the plan – although if you ask me this guy had to put a lot of effort into getting the £2000 ‘overpayment’ out of me even if I had given it to him.

I am posting this blog because I was so nearly ‘got’ and I would hate for anyone else to fall victim to this scam.  I truly hate people who take others for a ride in this way.  I watched my own dad be destroyed by a (far worse) scam and I think the people who decide that this is a way to make a living are absolutely despicable.  How they sleep at night I would love to know.  I mean to say, who do they think they are tricking honest people out of their hard earned cash like this?

amazon-scams[1]

Its a scam!

Thank goodness this time I wasn’t taken in but, please, if something like this happens to you, be on your guard.  Do not assume that the customer is necessarily right.  Times have  changed, apparently!

And if you have been the victim of a crime like this, or you think you might have been, and you live in UK contact the police using this link