The taxi negotiation post was unexpectedly popular. My fabulous host in Addis, Owen, reminds me of a scene from Life of Brian, where our forlorn hero is being chased by Roman centurions through a market when he spots Harry the beard merchant.
Brian: How much? Quick!
Brian: It’s for the wife.
Harry: Oh. Twenty shekels.
Brian: (putting down 20 shekels) There you are.
Harry: Wait a moment.
Harry: We’re supposed to haggle.
Brian: No, no, I’ve got to …
Harry: What do you mean, no?
Brian: I haven’t time, I’ve got to get …
Harry: Give it back then.
Brian: No, no, I paid you.
Harry: Burt! (Burt appears. He is very big.)
Harry: This bloke won’t haggle.
Burt: (looking around) Where are the guards?
Brian: Oh, all right … I mean do we have to …
Harry: Now I want twenty for that …
Brian: I gave you twenty.
Harry: Now are you telling me that’s not worth twenty shekels?
Harry: Feel the quality, that’s none of yer goat.
Brian: Oh … I’ll give you nineteen then.
Harry: No, no. Do it properly.
Harry: Haggle properly. This isn’t worth nineteen.
Brian: You just said it was worth twenty.
Brian: I’ll give you ten.
Harry: That’s more like it.
(outraged) Ten!? Are you trying to insult me? Me? With a poor dying
Harry: Now you’re getting it. Eleven!?! Did I hear you right? Eleven? This cost me twelve. You want to ruin me?
Harry: No, no, no. You go to fourteen now.
Harry: Fourteen, are you joking?
Brian: That’s what you told me to say. (Harry registers total despair.) Tell me what to say. Please.
Harry: Offer me fourteen.
Brian: I’ll give you fourteen.
Harry: (to onlookers) He’s offering me fourteen for this!
Harry: Seventeen. My last word. I won’t take a penny less, or strike me dead.
Harry: Done. (He grasps Brian’s hand and shakes it.) Nice to do business with you. Tell you what, I’ll throw in this as well. (He gives Brian a gourd.)
Brian: I don’t want it, but thanks.
Burt: (reappearing rapidly) Yes?
Brian: All right! All right!! Thank you.
Harry: Where’s the sixteen then?
Brian: I already gave you twenty.
Harry: Oh yes … that’s four I owe you then. (starts looking for change)
Brian: It’s all right, it doesn’t matter.
Harry: Hang on.
(Pause as Harry can’t find change. Brian sees a pair of prowling Romans.)
Brian: It’s all right, that’s four for the gourd — that’s fine!
Harry: Four for the gourd. Four!!!! Look at it, that’s worth ten if it’s worth a shekel.