Mistlebourne Market is quiet today. The rain is sheeting down, but apparently le tout village is at a charity coffee morning. Except for me, Annie from down the road and Jim from up the lane. Tucking into our bacon butties, we commiserate over each other's desolate working lives.
'I was making 25 grand a couple of years ago,' says Annie, who makes smart curtains and cushions. 'Last year it was down to seven. I haven't sold anything for over a month now.'
'I met someone who was running a smart charity do,' says Jim, who does architectural watercolours for people with posh houses. 'They loved my work and asked me to do a special brochure and bring along some pictures to hang and be part of the charity auction. I did all that.'
'You've got to speculate to accumulate,' chips in Annie.
'Yes, well, I get to this great fuck-off mansion, lugging all my pictures and brochures, and they're all sitting round the table with their diamonds and emeralds, and they say, Oh Jim, sorry, we don't need you now.'
'It happens to me all the time!' agrees Annie. 'I go to a party and meet all these rich people and I hand out all these cards, and they say I love your cushions and I know dozens of people who will order masses, and I think, goody, things are looking up, and then I sit by the phone and... not a squeak. I tell you, Mistlebourne is just like living in LA. Empty promises!'
Bang goes my dogsitting career, however. Seems Annie makes ends meet by dog-walking (£7) and dogsitting (£10 a day, or up to £20 a night, depending on owner's means). That could have been me! But she's cornered the dog-owner market.
'Not that I get any recognition for it from my clients,' she says. 'They come in and race straight past me to the dog bowl.'
'I'd do the same if I thought I could get away with it socially,' says Jim.