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Portrait of a Sunday Boot Sale

In the train station car park, aromas hang in the sunny (early) morning air; bacon, after-shave, strong perfume.  Oyster Catchers scream in the nature reserve beyond.

Uber-friendly white Staffordshire Bull Terrier does her  best to give every passer-by a kiss; tail a blurred wag.

DVDs £1. Books 40p.

Recycling and bargain hunting; children’s toys, old clothes, remnants from the building trade, scraps of material for the creative type.

Nearly made enough to put some petrol in the tank.

Throngs of people mill about, yet it’s quiet. Serene.

“Four pound for that, mate.” 
“Thomas, No! Put that down.”
(Thomas continues to not put it down. He follows when he’s good and ready.)

“Keddies. Yeah, we all remember Keddies. Bought the wife a pair of hamster fur boots from there. Took her on the London Eye. Couldn’t get her off.”  (Pause…)  “I’ll let you work that one out.”  (Ah, a joke about hamsters on giant wheels. Ha ha.)

A Yorkshire Terrier passes, peeping out of a handbag.

“Vampires!” (Earnestly): “I do like a vampire.”

A glamorous mature lady in a dog’s-tooth check coat reminisces about her days fencing with club Cyrano.  

“Blair Witch. I used to work with two young guys that were taken in by all the Internet hype about that. When I saw it, I was underwhelmed.”  (He shakes his head as he remembers the crushing disappointment).  “Underwhelmed.”

People display identity – individuals in the crowd; badges, scarves, choice of bag (black, velvet, pentagram) dreadlocks, tattoos, dogs in pink jumpers…

“I bought the car today, not the X-Wing, otherwise I’d have worn it home.”

Made enough to cover the entry fee.

Young (about twenty), tall, man, in a tracksuit and red baseball cap, wanders nonchalantly; a baby (in a pink woolly hat, with ears) strapped to his front. Dad shakes a rattle absent-mindedly. The baby’s uninterested.

A boy that loves tigers negotiates to secure a painting.

Beautifully exotic, olive skinned, woman with bright jet hair – tied tightly in a bun. Long flowing white skirts. Small child in tow. A family with stories to tell.

A man with a toy Labrador in an Argos bag stops to fuss a (real) scruffy yellow dog. “Very life-like, aren’t they? They want to get involved.”

The sky is clear blue and the sun warms the skin. A seagull soars on a thermal.

Made enough to pay for tomorrow’s train fare.

A silver haired, slightly stooped, lady gestures to the stall; “See. You look at that. It’s crap. I’ve thrown better away.”  Son (apologetically); “she only likes Marks & Spencers.”

Mature man with silver hair and a generous silver beard; red fleece, brown carpet slippers, a push-a-long seat-come-walking-frame. He sports a taupe top-hat with a glittering hat band; into which are pushed posies of multi-coloured flowers.

Small boy in cropped cargo pants carries a Homer Simpson pink doughnut that’s as tall as he is. His face shows delight.

Spider-man mask; 10p. “It’s for my 30th. I’m having a super hero party and can’t decide what to be. So I’m being all of them.”

“So I sez ‘there’s nuffink I can do about it! I aint no f***ing doctor!’ Oh, Harry Potter! Ah, look. You look so cute with giraffe ears.”

“I can’t understand you. You’re a Dalek.”

“If you don’t feed me now, I’ll die. Right here. In the middle of the boot sale.”

“I don’t think people realise how bad it is in Spain. Terrible. People are evicted and still chased for the mortgage money. People are chaining themselves to their homes. They asked the fire service to cut through the chains, but they refused. People are setting fire to themselves in the banks. Our friends lost £27,000. They didn’t know the bank had taken it til they tried to go Christmas shopping. Years of saving, years of pension money, just taken away.”

A £25 wildlife photography book to a small boy for 50p. Because nurturing a love of nature is of more value than cash.

Made enough to fuel my car, buy a train ticket and get my sister a turquoise summer dress.

Home time.


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