I fear I may be morphing into Jeremy Clarkson but the brief story that follows may tell you everything you need to know about why this country is rubbish at so much these days.
I took three winter coats and a jacket into the dry cleaners. The lady looked at the labels and pointed out that one of the coats couldn't be dry cleaned. 'Can it be washed?' I asked (I have to put my glasses on to read laundry labels these days). She replied in the affirmative.
You need to know at this point that this is a dry cleaners and laundrette so they can do washing. 'I may as well take it home and do it myself then,' I said. She didn't argue so lost the business.
The following conversation is more or less verbatim:
Assistant: It's a pity you haven't got four items to dry clean as it's four for £16.99 on offer at the moment.
Me: Well how much is it for three?
Me: Can't you pretend there's four? Then I get the cheaper price and you have less work to do?
Assistant: I'm sorry it doesn't work like that?
Me: How about if you included the other coat and washed that. Then you have four items?
Assistant: (Shouting through a door behind her) Can we do three dry clean and one wash for the special offer price?
Well, good people, they can. So for £16.99 at Nailsea Dry Cleaners I am having two coats dry-cleaned, one jacket dry-cleaned (baby-sick on the arm following yesterday's baptism) and a coat washed. Bargain.