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Published: October 19th 2010
Gabriel is being led around the medina by a guide called Omar. Gabriel has disappointed Omar by not purchasing anything from crappy stores which will pay him a commission. Omar is doing everything he can to terrify Gabriel with horrible tales of epic misfortune visited on parsimonious tourists. Gabriel has not seen any beer in the medina and that displeases him. Nor has he seen or smelled any sign of kif
. Gabriel does not see the point in hot smelly narrow alleyways without drugs or alcohol. Eventually, he is led into a gigantic carpet warehouse and given some mint tea. The warehouse is both visually and olfactorily stimulating. It is very noisy. He is encouraged to touch the carpets.
Gabriel is perched on a stool and carpets are strewn before him. A carpet expert - and probably a haggling expert - is talking constantly about the quality of wool and silk, the history of the design and provenance. Gabriel is reminded of those brothels where some pimp extols the virtues of each girl in an unintelligible language like Chinese or Lao. Smiling and nodding, Gabriel wonders if he will ever score any hash.
Back in Edinburgh, Gabriel unrolls the carpet in his mother's apartment. His mother pulls a face. "It's an antique," he declares.
"Yes. Maybe." His mother doesn't look too convinced. "But it is an orange and green antique with turquoise splodges. It's not exactly 'ambient', is it?"
In Christie's, Gabriel unrolls the carpet with a flourish. The auctioneer pulls a face. "It's certainly not an antique," he declares. "And the colour is a bit funny. I suppose we could put it in the household goods sale on Wednesday. It might make fifty quid." Gabriel's dreams of early retirement crumbled to dust to be replaced with dreams of 120 hours of bar work to pay off his credit card bill.
In the antiques market, Gabriel unrolls the carpet with less of a flourish. "It’s a bit of a funny colour," says the dealer, "like someone has been trying to make it look old. Where did you get it? Morocco?"
Gabriel nods. "I like the colour."
"Well, that makes one of us. How much do you want for it?"
"Five hundred quid?" Gabriel lacked the pizzazz of the previous vendor, but he still inspires a considerable ejaculation of mirth from the dealer.
"How about 25? In fact, I'll make it 30 since you brought it in."
In the pub, Gabriel unrolls the carpet without fanfare. "What an 'orrible colour!" says Eric his boss.
"I like it" says Deirdre, Eric's wife. "How much do you want for it?"
Gabriel bites his lip. "Five hundred?"
"Five hundred quid?" squeals Eric.
"I like it," says Deirdre again. "It will match the new suite. How about two fifty?"
"Two hundred and fifty quid?" squeals Eric again.
"It's an antique," says Gabriel.
Deirdre goes to the till. "Three hundred and fifty. Deal?"
Gabriel scores some good Scottish soapbar and retires early that evening.
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