Ted is back!
Yes – after a break of more than a year, Ted has gone to a car boot sale! However, it’s a different car boot sale.
The Old Car Boot Sale
Ted had been going to the same car boot sale for years. The sellers paid for their cars or vans and the buyers didn’t have to pay anything. The organiser then had the bright idea that buyers who arrived before 7am would have to pay £1 for car parking. The following years it was 8am, then 9am and then 10am. What a boost for the organiser’s coffers!
It was 2015 when the organiser had a brainwave: car parking would be free, but there would be a charge of £1 for each buyer. Out of the goodness of the organiser’s heart, children would get in free.
So along came Easter, and couples would arrive and be asked to pay £2 instead of £1. The driver of a car containing four adults was asked to cough up £4, resulting in comments like, “What do you think this is – Harrods?” (this was an actual response – Ted heard it from a witness). Fortunately, Ted found out about the buyers’ entrance fees before the season started, and that’s the main reason why – as a matter of principle – he stopped going (the other reason was that he had enough ‘stuff’).
Many of the regular buyers stopped going to the sale, and when some of the regular sellers realised that the number of buyers was dwindling, they stopped selling there. The remaining buyers found fewer sellers, and so the vicious spiral continued. The organiser had killed his golden goose. In 2016 they reverted to the £1-a-car basis, but the damage was done. Many buyers – including Ted – were permanently lost, as were some sellers.
There are rumours that what was once the largest car boot sale in the area might now have a short life expectancy.
The New Car Boot Sale
Whereas before Ted had a three-mile walk up a steep hill starting at 5:30am, he now had a 5-mile walk up a less steep hill starting at 11:45am (the sale starts at 1 o’clock, a far more sensible time).
And whereas at the old car boot sale the buyers could turn up while the sellers were setting up, acting like vultures as soon as a seller’s boot was opened, at the new sale there is an orderly queue with matron-like stewards who do not let anyone in before the starting time. Ted could hear the drooling Dobermans and Rottweilers waiting to be released to deal with any transgressors.
At one o’clock, all the queuing buyers had flooded in within a couple of minutes.
Shoes. Ted had never seen so many shoes. Big ones, little ones, narrow ones, wide ones, black ones, brown ones, adults’, children’s… Why? Why so many shoes?
And fat females. Ye Gods! Ted had never seen so many fat women. The strange thing is, the fatter the woman the more flesh they seem to expose. It’s as though they want to flaunt the flab. Curiously, there didn’t seem to be any shoes large enough to fit the fat women.
After half an hour, not having bought anything and thinking the outing was a complete waste of time, Ted decided to have a cup of tea. There was a marquee with food and drink being served from what looked like a caravan. There was no queue because all the buyers were either looking at shoes or waddling down the aisles.
A cup of tea was £1 (it was £1.50 at the old sale), a bacon roll was £2 (£3) and there were decent-sized slices of various home-made cakes for £1. It was while eating his cake that Ted experienced an eclipse of the sun. He quickly realised that one wasn’t due, and when he looked up he saw the most enormous backside of one of the fattest women he had ever seen. She was leaning over an adjacent table attending to something (Ted though she might have noticed some wasted crumbs on someone’s finished-with plate).
Various thoughts ran through Ted’s brain. Where does someone buy jeans that big? How much more do they cost than a normal pair? Are they reinforced so that they don’t split when bending over? What happens when they sit in a train seat? How firmly fixed is their toilet? How do they fit in a shower? The wonderment goes on.
Ted decided that he’d have one more look round before he left. It was then that he spotted Laurel and Hardy, sitting on the edge of a table. They were old, wooden, over two feet high and obviously collectible. The overweight seller was lying on his side on the ground, his legs obviously not able to support the excess fattage.
“How much for those?” said Ted, pointing at them. “Come here and have a proper look,” said the slug. “Oh no,” thought Ted, “He’s going to try the hard sell.”
“How much?” said Ted, staying where he was. “Two,” said the slug.
Now Ted, who is experienced with traders’ jargon, knew that this did not mean £2 – it meant £200. Ted gave his well-practised look of shock horror and walked on.
GPO Trembler Bell: £2
It was shortly after this interchange that Ted saw a white-painted box on the ground by an Asian mother and son (who looked about six years old) who were selling some clothes and toys. Covering the contents of the box was a large sign that said “£2.”
So that was Ted’s single purchase for the day – and he has a GPO dynamo which will work it. It’s a pity that someone has painted a varnished mahogany box white, but a dose of Nitromors will soon sort that out.