Monday, 1 September 2014

The Battle of the Bulge

It might just be me, but in my experience you don’t get to be 47 without…. no wait, I’m 46….(what chance have I got when I can’t even remember my own age)…I’ll try that again – in my experience you don’t get to be 46 without a little middle age spread. Perhaps just a bit too much where there used to be just about enough. Or am I the only one fighting the battle of the bulge?

No, no, no I’m not talking about being overweight! Heavens – I have the figure of a racing snake! No, I’m talking about the spread that occurs when we accumulate stuff in our homes. When the spaces which were once joyously, well spaces, have been overtaken and overwhelmed by 20+ years of books and clothes and toys and games and ornaments and books and clothes and toys and games (did I say that already?)…..

As if it’s not bad enough in our living space, try finding something you want from the garage, and I’m not talking about the car – who on earth puts their car in a garage for goodness sake? How could I when the garage is full of books and clothes and toys and games and lawn mowers and hedge trimmers and half used paint pots and bits of wood that I just know will come in handy one day (come on you men I know THAT is not just me)…..

As for the loft, it’s a wonder everything up there hasn’t come tumbling through the ceiling from the weight of books and clothes and toys and games and Christmas decorations and photo albums and suitcases and Abba LP’s (everybody’s got one somewhere).

So leaving Emily tucked up in bed under the watchful eye of her married big sister (also tucked up in bed) we squeezed the contents of the house into the car and, although I’d have preferred the charity shop or perhaps the recycling facility (or “tip” as we call it up north), we headed for the CAR BOOT SALE.

This for me is about as much fun as toothache. But today we were going to a different one – “we’ve not been here before” I’m told. Joy. (Toothache with anew dentist is still toothache right?) No sooner had we parked up than we were ambushed by a headache (collective term) of bargain hunters. They were in the boot of the car quicker than I could say “no I’ve got no jewellery”. Eventually when they heard that they all disappeared like an early autumn mist – leaving me, Sheron and a toothless Eastern European lady who seemed intent on buying a pair of curtains for 30p.

There has to be better ways of spending a Saturday morning doesn’t there? I think of feigning injury and sitting out the rest of the morning alongside the other men who were there under protest, but my interest in selling our stuff is stirred when I see that people are actually queuing up to buy. I mean, what is wrong with these people? Seriously those miniature Lilliput Lane houses are going to be in their loft before Christmas. Never mind, that’s another few quid. This is getting interesting. And some of them actually speak English. Sheron strikes up conversation, “Morning” she says to a man in his 60’s “how are you today?” she enquired. “Do I know you” the man barked back. “No, just being friendly” Sheron replied. “Oh” says the chap scratching his head, “that’s nice….makes a change”. He stops to engage further in humorous northern banter as I wrestle a $40 New York Yankees cap from the hands of another new friend who insisted on paying no more than £2. I hold out for £3. He walks off but comes back half an hour later with the extra pound. I’m feeling so smug I consider giving that small child the ball he’s looking at for nothing. But Sheron’s there first and clenches proudly the 10p she managed to get for it. We’re on fire.

At the end of the morning we’ve made far more than we could have expected, despite the opening starting bids of 20p from most of the punters. I see a burger van selling cheeseburgers for £2.50 and wonder if they get the same opening bids. “20p…30p if you throw in a hot dog as well!” Perhaps not.

The best thing about days like this is not what we made. It’s not even piling up years of stuff on to a broken pasting table and watching people descend on it and devour the goods like drunks on a Friday night kebab. No, the best thing is getting out there, meeting people, talking to people, they’re actually quite interesting. It made me realise I’m nowhere near as good at this as Emily is. She has a natural ability to communicate. As soon as she understands the context and that it’s like a shop, rather than just talking to random strangers, she’s well away in situations like this.

If only we had taken her this time, we’d have probably sold lots more, instead of loading it back into the garage.