Monday, 29 August 2011

August Bank Holiday and don’t look back look forward

Well here we are then, August Bank Holiday, the last public holiday before and dare I say it - Christmas. Now this public holiday used to be a great institution back in the day; factory’s would fall silent, and streets devoid of people possibly planing to spend a day at the great British seaside with the family or just a bit of free time to do a bit of work down on the allotment’; there would always be some boring old James Bound film on the old goggle-box - oh how I miss them summer days of old. 

But they do say ‘don’t look back, look forward’.

Who will shed a tear for the passing of summer then, I do wonder; probably the kids as they go back and knuckle under to a new academic schooling year, of intense caricature assimilation ( no disrespect to our comrade educators) in preparation for capitalist selection some years down the line.

Some years ago now when I was living up in Linconshire, and during the summer months my Sunday mornings were often or not occupied with car booting. I did not attend these events because I had nothing better to do on a Sunday. Neither did I go to them in order to sell; in fact I sometimes didn't go to buy. I just love like many of us do car boot sales. I love the electric atmosphere of them all, come winter come summer. The long lines of stalls, the piles of books (which one of those piles I wonder will have within it the very book I have been searching for?), the tattered clothing but wherein may lurk that special one off T-shirt.

Oh and what a place to buy, if your lucky them extra demijohns just in time for the summer wine-making. kids love car boot sales. They dart from stall to stall, pocket money held tightly. One little boy, “how much for that jigsaw, Mister?” Mister strokes his chin “ I have to tell you sonny, that there are three pieces missing”. Sonny then hands over five pence and is off again to the next stall. A man is eyeing a ghastly ornament he intends to buy for his wife as a present on their wedding anniversary. It is without doubt one of the most ugliest pieces one has ever seen, and yet this man says,defiantly, I’ll give you a fiver for that”. The stallholder looks surprised. “A fiver?” The man shouts as if in desperation, he so badly wants that ornament. So “A fiver” he repeats, belligerently, “Not a penny more”.  Stallholder chuckles good-naturedly. You can certainly have it for a fiver, but I was hoping somebody would just take it off my hands. The deal is done the man carries his new purchase back to his car clutching it in fear and trembling lest he should drop it.

On windy days when stalls rock and sometimes turn over - most of them are after all trestle tables rescued from the attics and garages, -  stallholders and customers alike give a hand to set things right again, and in a sudden shower of rain, everyone, but everyone springs into action with the plastic covers. It is in everyone's interests to keep things dry. 

There are food stalls a hamburger van for those who are not vegetarian, and steaming mugs of tea a little horse and cart, kids on board, winds its way across the field, twenty pence a go. Banter is exchanged “Go on, don’t be mean gov’nor, buy yer misses a new hat”. Wife tries the hat on and it sits like a tea-cosy on her recent perm. Somebody rushes froward with a mirror and there are laughs all round. But the hat is rejected; it is not worth the five pounds, even the stallholder knew that. The books on the stall are often a big disappointment to me. Mills and Boon, Barbara Cartland, Catherine Cookson and Jeffrey (bloody) Archer. But I find, hidden in the depths of a cardboard box under piles of old fishing magazines a beautiful little copy of The Wind in The Willows. Then there is always what I call the rusty tool stall. I call it this because every thing does appear to be rusty. I never linger at these stalls, for some unfortunate inadequacy in my character prevents me from admiring spanners, old lawnmowers, drills, screwdrivers and many other rusty items I can not give a name to. 

I don’t really go to many car boot sales these days, and when I did it was not for the many bargains to be had. It is people that I want to be with. I enjoy what we all share for that morning, the families wheeling kids in pushchairs, the excitement of children discovering secondhand toys and the gleam in the eye of someone who has found a bargain. The woman who sells me a brightly patterned jumper for fifty pence, “you’ll find that lovely and warm in winter” she tells me and I’ve had it for years now, isn’t that something? Here is a wonderful woman I had never met before and will probably never meet again and yet she knows and I know that I will be wearing her jumper come this winter and nether of us minds one bit. True money did exchange hands. The difference is, in a socialist society there would not be any need to give her fifty pence because I would not have any money and she would not need it anyway, its called real civilisation!" 

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