On holiday in Provence, where one of the many delights is browsing the village markets, I came across a local bilingual promotional magazine. The front cover, not surprisingly, caught my interest. Dominating, in brutal type , were the words PITCH WARS.
This was not, as I first thought, an article on pitching but, as the French title “La Guerre des places” indicated, one on the bitter jostling, back-stabbing and bribery that goes on to secure the best sited pitch, an original meaning of the word.
Interestingly, as soon as this war is over peace breaks out and all the traders unite behind the common goal of creating a great market. As the writer of the article, Jamie Ivey, himself a market newcomer banished to the less favoured pitches, descrbes it:
“Every market was a show and every trader had a role to play to ensure its success…luring the tourists in the heat of the day was a team effort. Every week we were successful in creating a critical mass of bustling people, a magical environment in which money somehow ceased to matter and shoppers left with a smile on their face, a camera full of beautiful photos and no money in their pockets”.
Sounds to me like the description of a great pitch. It was Paul Arden, in his marvellous book, ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be’, who tolds us not to present but to “Put on a show!”