Sid The Inventor
Sid sighs, puts down the suitcases and glances at his wrist. "It's a quarter to four," he says.
"Hey, that's a pretty fancy watch!" exclaims the stranger. Sid brightens a little.
"Yeah, it's not bad. I've been working on it for a while. Have a look at this..." - and he shows him a time zone display not just for every time zone in the world, but for the 200 largest cities.
He hits a few buttons and from somewhere on the watch a voice says, "The time is ten fourdy seven AM," in a New York accent. A few more buttons and the same voice says something in Japanese. Sid continues, "I've put in regional accents for each city." The display is unbelievably high quality and the voice is simply astounding.
The stranger is struck dumb with admiration. "That's not all," says Sid. He pushes a few more buttons and a tiny but very high-resolution map of central Birmingham appears on the display. "The flashing dot shows our location by GPS," explains Sid. "View recede ten," he adds, and the display changes to show the entire West Midlands.
"I want to buy this watch!" gasps the stranger.
"Oh, no, it's not ready for sale yet; I'm still working out the bugs," says Sid. "But look at this!" and he proceeds to demonstrate that the watch is also a very creditable little digital radio receiver, a sonar device that can measure distances up to 125 metres, a pager with thermal paper printout and, most impressive of all, an audio player capable of storing voice recordings of up to 300 standard-size books, "though I've only got 32 of my favourites in there so far," says Sid.
"I've got to have this watch!" insists the stranger.
"No, you don't understand; it's not ready-"
"I'll give you Â£1,000 for it!"
"Oh, no, I've already spent more than-"
"I'll give you Â£3,000 for it!"
"But it's just not-"
"I'll give you Â£5,000 for it!" And the stranger pulls out a large wad of fifty-pound notes.
Sid stops to think. He's only put about Â£3,500 into materials and development, and with Â£5,000 he can make another one and have it ready for marketing in only six months. The stranger frantically finishes counting out the money and waves it in front of him. "Here it is, ready to hand to you right here and now. Â£5,000. Take it or leave it."
Sid abruptly makes his decision. "OK," he says, and peels off the watch.
They make the exchange and the stranger starts happily away. "Hey, wait a minute!" calls Sid after the stranger, who turns around warily. Sid points to the two suitcases he's been trying to drag through the station. "Don't forget your batteries."