Car Boot Meditations
chapter 4

A Car Boot outing is nearly always a solitary experience for me, hence the meditations. There are those who consider CBs a waste of time, my partner for example, for whom collecting old children's books is seen as a sad and therefore lone activity that does not need an escort. Other detractors, such as my son, possess a heightened sensitivity to certain social activties ("Oh no, not another boring art exhibition opening mum...") and equate each laden table with a death in the family. There is a nugget of truth to this, of course. Why else would one be presented with an overload of an elderly relative's belongings, quite clearly unwanted by the 20-something sellers; is there not something just a little bit off by coming across a zimmer frame (one over-careful owner), 5 walking sticks in various states of decrepitude - alongside one in practically mint cond., with For grandad from Windemere pokerworked down the side, and a complete china thimble collection with presentation shelving? All at the same stall?

My son was about nine when he drew his own conclusions and has never accompanied me since. Perhaps I'm just a natural risk-taker, drawn to the dark side in my hot pursuit for Cocky. Like other old children, I have never lost the joy of finding a Cinderella imprisoned amongst boring adult things like the cordless car vac.(never used), boxed crystal glasses (set of 3) and an Irish Linen place mat with 2 companion napkins. Then the adult in me kicks in, for want of something better to do and a feeling of guilt that I am actually intellectually satisfied with this discovery - of course it's a neat metaphor I'm really after. What the Cinderella really represents here is the woman oppressed by years of domestic drudgery finally coming to the surface and declaring it was a struggle 'but I've come along way baby!' I continue to fool myself with such fancy feminist notions, as I extricate Cinders from the pile, neatly pocketing her for 10p.

On Saturday I was invited to friend/rival's house for birthday bash work assignment completion celebration combo - hold the Ladybird! Subterfuge, I cynically considered. Perhaps I would be too tired, drunk on camaraderie, to rouse myself out of bed the following morning unwilling to challenge my body clock to a bio-horological equivalent of riding steeplechase backwards. But I had brought the car and son, along with the promise of early pickings from a box of Ladybirds which ensured a clinically obsessive sobriety - a concept so bizarrely alien for a party that my hair was pinned up in a neat bun by the time I got home. After being introduced consistently as the woman who goes Carbooting for Ladybirds every Sunday - an opener which invited the quick once-over and must-get-a-bread-stick reaction - I was left to practise my sparkling party repartee with the hostess:

"So, em, pick up anything last Sunday?" I enquired, engaging a matter of factness I never knew I had.

"A butter-churn and a two-story hamster cage."

"Handy", I replied. Suburbanites have the CB to thank for making simulated rustification a feasible lifestyle option and hamsters, I guess, are grateful for any option to their lifestyle of simulated rustification. , feasible.

As it turned out I got to CB1 (the race-track) way too early the next morning. I hung around uneasily with the die-hards before the cars arrived, before even the hard-core ruck-sack faction had got there. I attempted to affect the mean one-hand holdall swagger whilst rolling up with the other. Tricky when I neither possess the regulation baggage or smoke and there is nothing to examine other than a line of empty spaces. Whatever they tell you, boredom is not a psychosomatic complaint but a serious condition.

I did however pick up a few racing tips, so I assume I had entered the twilight punter changeover zone. Spurred on by a seller the previous week who said he'd bring in a pile of LBs, two hours on and a man-size pack of Scotties he never did materialise, which suggests to me that sometimes the rehearsal is better than real life.

Others were having an equally dissatisfying time with books. "Got the other one in this Tolkien set?" On my departing round, however, I spyed a little LB gem - Comic Verse. Worth the two hour wait? Laugh? I nearly ....

CB 2, the live-stock market, offered more, albeit your hearty traditional fare: A Dennis the Menace, a couple of Blue-bordered Histories and The Energy Pirate, rather than the exquisite nouvelle quisine 'less is more' presentation of Le coq docile avec une veste du papier. Next week I'm on a diet... The diet of bookworms that is.

More Car Boot adventures...

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