I’ve just enjoyed an interesting and rewarding weekend, for very contrasting reasons.
I celebrated the Cardiff Blues winning a European cup on Sunday afternoon with Champagne and Pimms in the back garden and it all seemed a long way from how my weekend had started.
It got going at 5am on Saturday, preparing to pack up my brother-in-law’s car with all sorts of clutter, books, CDs and general tat that Rachel and I have accumulated over the last few years.
The plan was to head to a large car boot sale where the auctioneer team – me, my brother-in-law (Simon) and his fiance Kate – would spend a hot, sunny morning attempting to convince people about the merits of two sets of carpet gripper tracks, a barely used cappuccino maker, a well-used PlayStation 1 console, several large boxes of books and CDs and a couple of tables full of…well, crap.
We did very well.
We returned six long hours later with over half of our “stock” sold and £150 in the back pocket.
But I’ll happily admit I found the whole experience quite traumatic.
The tone was set on arrival in the vast field a little after 6am, where we found a hundred or more vehicles already parked and setting out their stalls. And we found ourselves flanked by people selling all manner of unusual items – from bubble wrap to a dog ramp for your car.
As we attempted to unload we were enveloped by a swarm of the undead. At least, that’s how it felt.
The grabbing hands and the dull, cheerless monotone questions seemed never-ending:
- “Got any crockery, love?”
- “Any televisions, mate?”
- “Are there any phones or sunglasses in that box?”
That sunny Staffordshire field suddenly resembled the village of the damned – we were under attack from the the professional car booters.
I’m not proud of myself when I say I eventually resorted to a well-aimed elbow in the back of one very persistent old lady who seemed to think I had hidden a load of tea cups in the large (and heavy) box of CDs I was attempting to remove from the boot.
But they proved a persistent and malignant breed. I carried one box around to the front of the car from the boot and returned barely 10 seconds later to find a chap trying to peer into a half open bag.
I lifted the flap to reveal…a load of packing paper (the glasses that had been in the box were already set out on a table). He looked angry and hurt, as if I had just elbowed his elderly mother in the back and said: “Got any LPs?”
I pointed to the box of CDs and he snorted like a teenager about to embark on a hissy fit. “No, vinyl,” he added, barely managing to contain his irritation.
I shook my head. He tutted and shuffled to the next car, where a lady was already pricing a vast array of jeans and combat trousers. “Got ay LPs?” he barked at her.
When she shook her head without even looking up, I thought he was going to kick her car. He didn’t, he just trudged on to the next unsuspecting seller. The undead seem to like crockery, mobile phones, cameras and LPs a lot.
Thankfully, everything calmed down by around 8am as more of the general public started to arrive.
But then I faced a new trauma – trying to sell off most of my carefully assembled CD collection.
I didn’t react well to criticism of some of the CDs as prospective punters rifled through the two boxes. I did just about resist the urge to shout: “Philistine” at the bloke who scoffed at two of my Spiritualised CDs.
And then salvation arrived in the form of a middle-aged man. He only bought 3 CDs, but he spent 20 minutes carefully going through each box and occasionally chortling to himself.
As he handed over his £3 he smiled and said: “There’s some great stuff in there, I’ve got most of it myself already. It’s nice to meet someone else who actually has a copy of that Ether CD too.”
He was followed by a serious and grateful collector who left with 25 CDs and about half a dozen books.
And suddenly, selling off my CDs got easier. I felt I had been given a nod of approval for my taste and music.
We didn’t sell out of CDs, the remainder can go to various local charity shops. But seeing so many go to good homes helped me to forget the earlier brush with the zombie car booters from hell.
Rest assured, however, I will not be visiting a car boot sale – as seller or buyer – anytime soon.
I escaped from the village of the damned unscathed and in profit. I don’t want to chance my luck again.