•             Welcome

    This is the personal site of Ted the serendipitist, who has interpreted the Wikipedia definition of 'Hunter-Gatherer' (see that page) as meaning someone who visits junk shops, charity shops, antique shops and hebdomadal matutinal car boot sales in order to acquire low-value objects, which no-one in their right minds would want, at low cost (well, apart from antique shops, that is).

    Deluded Ted believes that at some time in the future, some of his acquisitions will be highly desirable and worth a small fortune.

  •       Car Boot Sales

    TYPES OF SELLERS

    There are two types of sellers at car boot sales, viz traders and ordinary people. Ted tends to avoid traders owing to the high chance of inadvertently purchasing inferior goods at high prices. However, Ted did recently manage to acquire a large number of pairs of everlasting socks at only 50p per pair.

    THE LANGUAGE

    Buyers need to understand traders' language; on asked how much the French carriage clock is, the response might be "toonarf." This would be interpreted as £250. There is no first aid on site for buyers who faint.

    WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?

    Ted has discovered that, 99% of the time, a strange-looking object is either a massager, a fitness device or a CD rack.

    WIVES

    When a husband and wife team are selling their unwanted items at a car boot stall, it is an interesting fact that, whatever position the husband holds at work, be it dogsbody, manager or chief executive, it is the wife who wears the trousers. If someone asks the wife how much the pretty mug is, she'll say, for example, "50p." However, if the husband were asked, he would turn to his wife and say, "Er... how much for this, dear?" - even if it belongs to him.

    At other times the wife can be heard saying, "No, not there - put it on the ground here...", "You need to turn those round", "You can empty this box now..." or "You can pour me a cup of tea now - you did pack the flask as I asked, didn't you?"

    The simple fact is that women are more suited to this activity than the average man is, and so they naturally take control.

    HAGGLING

    In the early days, Ted's wife would suddenly say, "Ooh, look! They've GOT one!!!" This somewhat weakened Ted's position when he started to haggle. A more appropriate method for achieving a minimal sale price is to pick up the piece unenthusiastically and give a look of horror on hearing the price.

    Some sellers dither when asked the price of an item. At the first sign of this, the buyer should offer a very low price; there is a high chance that it will be accepted, especially if a wife is not in sight.

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Car Boot Sale – 31st July 2016


In his recent posts, Ted has commented rather unkindly on overweight members of the public who he has seen at the car boot sale which he occasionally visits. He now regrets this. After all, it’s not very nice to comment on people’s afflictions even if they are caused by overstuffing their face.

So he is not going to mention the huge man who sat on a plastic chair (the ones where the chair is a single piece of moulded plastic, and the cross-section of a leg is a right-angle). As soon as he sat down his flabberjubber undulated up and down his body, and then the whole chair started to distort, twist and then rock from side to side. First it would sway to one side, with Ted waiting for the ‘CRACK!’, and then it would sway the other way. It was better than watching a suspense movie. Amazingly, though, it didn’t collapse. Ted now has great respect for plastic-chair designers (the hyphen is there so that it’s the chair that’s plastic, not the designer).

Picture Cubes:  £2

Ted remembers these from his childhood, and they are very difficult to find nowadays. There is one from time to time on eBay, but they cost at least £6 plus postage.

What a bargain! The seller said that they belonged to her son who is now 42!

Ammeter:  £3

Yes – this superb antique (actually, June 1960) was sitting on what looked like an antique stall, and so Ted walked straight on because the chance was that the man would be asking around £30 for it.

But wait! Why not ask? And so Ted did.

“What are you asking for this?” said Ted disinterestedly. Note that he didn’t ask how much the ammeter was – that would indicate to the seller that Ted knew what it was. Neither did he ask what it cost – that would indicate that it actually had a price. No, Ted worded his question so that there was room to haggle for a strange item that he didn’t really appear to want.

“£5,” said the man, “but I’m open to offers.”

That was as good as saying that £5 was too much to ask for it, and Ted took full advantage.

“Have you tested it?” asked Ted. “No,” said the seller, putting himself in an even weaker position.

“Hmmm…,” said Ted with a doubtful look on his face, “Take three?”

“Yes,” the seller said, but if he’d said £4 Ted would have paid it!

It’s a lovely old thing, and when Ted got it home he found that it only worked when it was lying on its back.

No problem! Ted operated on its tummy and it is now in good working order.

He will be able to use it to see how much current is being passed into his indispensable sunlight counter.

Wooden box:  £1

Ted likes colourful wooden boxes, and when he saw this he asked the seller what she was asking for it.

“Two pounds,” the middle aged woman said.

Ted gave his well-practised look of horror.

“TWO POUNDS!” he said, aghast.

“Well, I’ll take one,” she said. Just like that.

So Ted has a very useful box which will, no doubt, be used to hold emptiness.

Box of Rawlplugs:  20p

This is the real McCoy – a box of 1970s Rawlplugs. Why do they make them of brittle plastic nowadays?

The box was lying amongst a mass of miscellaneous items which the seller was trying to sell as a job lot, but Ted knew that if he bought it all it would just sit for years in his cellar, and Ted only buys things which are going to be really useful.

Car Boot Sale – 5th June 2016


The Third Visit

During the first two visits Ted commented on the number of fat women he saw at the car boot sale. He did so because he just couldn’t believe how many there were and there couldn’t possibly be that many again.

This time there are more comments – not just because there were yet more flabby, fleshy fatties but because Ted now realises that either it is the modern norm or car boot sales attract fat women (because perhaps they have lower earning potential resulting in them looking for bargains). It could, of course, be that females who flaunt their flesh put on weight for some reason, or that something has happened to Ted’s eyes so that they distort certain people.

Anyway, Ted was once again sitting with his cup of tea when he noticed two tree-trunk thighs opposite him. Behind the owner of these was a woman whose dimensions were similar to that of Sandra or Tracey (‘The Fat Slags’) from the Viz magazine.

Ted is thinking about getting some special microprocessor-controlled spectacles which distort fat women so that they look like sylphs. Perhaps Google could help here.

Green Tub of K’Nex:  £2

Green Tub of K'NexTed saw this after a few minutes but decided to wait so that the asking price was not too high (if it was still there!). He wandered around and saw a full tub of K’Nex, and when he asked what the seller was asking for it, he received the response, “£20.” The man was clearly in cloud-cuckoo land.

After an hour or so, Ted returned to the green tub’s seller and said to the woman, “What are you asking for that?” whilst pointing to it.

“Would you say £3?” said the woman. “No,” said Ted, “I wouldn’t. How about two?”

“OK,” said the woman, and Ted handed over the dosh / moolah / spondulicks… or whatever you want to call it.

There wasn’t actually much in it, but the box alone was worth £2. The ubiquitous Lego pieces were discarded.

Car Boot Sale – 29th May 2016


A Second Visit

Yes – Ted, having missed last week’s sale owing to a family commitment, set off on the 82-minute walk to his new car boot sale.

There weren’t quite so many fat women (why use a euphemism when that’s what they are?) this week, but Ted’s experience in the café marquee compensated for that. He sat down with his bacon roll and cup of tea, and when he looked up he found he was facing – yet again – one of the largest women he had ever seen. If there was such a thing as a 99ZZ bra size, she was wearing one; moreover, as is a fat woman’s wont, she was exposing a large area of flesh. She was sitting on a chair (which somehow hadn’t collapsed) and her belly hung over the front of it so that it was a few inches from the ground. There was so much fat in her jowls that she had a permanent sneer.

Ted realised while he was gawking at her that her overweight husband might get the wrong idea, and so he looked away (there were two overweight sons at the table too, and the phrase ‘pummelled to a pulp’ entered Ted’s head).

Hunter-gatherer Ted succumbed a couple of times this week. He spent £4.50 for his treasures plus £3 for the bacon roll and cup of tea. Walking there didn’t cost a penny (apart from the shoe leather) and the bus back was free because Ted used his old fogey’s bus pass.

ET Soft Toy:  £2

ET Soft ToyTed’s wife groaned when she saw this, which isn’t surprising because Ted doesn’t really know why he bought it. Was he doing his bit for the economy? Did he feel sorry for the seller? Who knows.

It’s rather cute, though, isn’t it?

Porcelain Door Knobs:  50p

Porcelain Door KnobsTed picked this up from the ground by the seller’s table and thought, “I wonder how much he’ll want for this? – they’re usually between £10 and £15.” The brass plates were solid, not like the plated rubbish that’s around nowadays.

He then heard a man say, “50p.” Ted turned round and saw that it was the seller. Ted held up the knobs, and the seller said again, “50p.” You’ve never seen Ted’s hand move as fast as when it dived into his pocket and retrieved the coin.

Moreover, Ted actually needs these. One of his doors has got black porcelain knobs, all the others in the house being white!

Box of K’Nex:  £2

Blue Box of K'NexTed is not buying K’Nex any more because he has enough.

He saw this as soon as he entered the sale, but thought, “No – let someone else have it.”

One thing about boxes of K’Nex is that there is often much more in the box than one might think. In the picture on the left, it looks like the box is only part full and that there isn’t much there, but in the picture below you can see that there is, in fact, quite a lot.

Having wandered around for an hour or so, wondering why there weren’t so many shoes this week, and wondering how strong the café woman’s bed must be, Ted noticed that the K’Nex was still there.

He assumed it was because, like most of the other K’Nex he had seen recently, it was overpriced.

“What are you asking for that?” said Ted. Now there are two things to note here: the first is that Ted did not say, “How much is that?” – he said, “What are you asking forBlue Box of K'Nex Contents that?” Do you see the difference? The first form implies that it has a price, whereas the second form implies that the asking price will be too high. The second thing to note is that Ted said, “What are you asking for that?” rather than, “What are you asking for the K’Nex?” By feigning ignorance of what it is, the seller might think that Ted does not know anything about it, but if they knew that Ted knew what it was, the stated price might be higher than would otherwise be the case.

“I only want a couple of quid,” said the lady, and so all this psychology was wasted this time.

Ted paid the £2, but it wasn’t long afterwards that he wondered how that café woman washed herself…

Car Boot Sale – 15th May 2016


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.”

Someone iGPO Trembler Belln front of Ted looked under the sign, gave a shrug, and walked on – but Ted saw what it was!

Yes – if the contents had not been covered by the price, anyone could have seen that it was a GPO trembler bell with a rectifier and Strowger relay and snapped it up!GPO Trembler Bell - Inside

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.

K’Nex Fruit Machine (Mark 3)


Ted’s purchases at car boot sales and from eBay have enabled him to have enough pieces to make a new fruit machine!

There is an Instructables entry here.

K'Nex Fruit Machine (Mark 3)

Car Boot Sale – 20th July 2014


Green Box of K’Nex:  £6

Green Box of K'NexK’Nex is seen so rarely at car boot sales nowadays that Ted has to expect the prices to be higher than they were.

When asked for the price, Ted was told £7, and he had to haggle hard to get it down to £6. The green box will be useful, especially as it came with its lid, and there were some useful pieces in it.

It will help to replace the thousands of pieces used in his latest constructions (his Coin Pusher and his Bonanza Amusement Machine, and he still has thousands of pieces invested in his Fruit Machine).

 

Car Boot Sale – 13th July 2014


Electromechanical Timer:  £1

TimerTed struck gold here.

Liking to be up-to-date with technology, he discovered this beautiful electromechanical timer amongst a pile of “£1 or less” items on the ground at the side of the seller’s car.

It is identical to the one on Ted’s 35-year-old oil boiler and will be put aside as a spare.

Ted’s mother once dreamt that her husband had a second wife. In the dream, she ended up by saying, “The fact is that you want two of everything in case one wears out,” which just about summed up Ted’s father, and this trait has obviously been inherited.

Slide Case:  £1

Slide CaseTed picked up the case and opened it. This somewhat surprised the seller, since other curious people / potential buyers had been unable to do so.

Intelligent Ted, however, on finding the case apparently locked but without a lock or catch, immediately spotted the unobtrusive buttons on the front of the case and pushed them in to open it.

In spite of impressing the seller Ted had to haggle hard here.

When asked for the price, Ted was told £2. He gave his well-practised look of horror and put it down, whereupon the seller said, “Well, how much were you willing to pay?”

“50p,” replied cheeky Ted, but the seller refused. “75p then,” responded Ted, but the seller wouldn’t budge.

“OK, then, 99p,” said Ted, having a bit of fun.

“Well, that’s virtually a pound – OK” responded the seller, and Ted handed over a pound coin.

“Keep the change,” he said, as he walked away with a beautifully engineered box which will have as many uses as his other empty boxes.

Dangerous Book for Idiots

Dangerous Book for IdiotsNow this is what the Dangerous Book for Boys should have been. That misnomer of a title was a book which covered things like the kings and queens of England, football teams and other boring and innocuous topics.

Here are some of the contents:

  • Walking on Red Hot Coals
  • Competitive Nettle-Eating
  • Biting the Head off a Live Snake
  • Volcano-Boarding

…and so on. Get the idea?