Sunday, 20 December 2009

To market, to market

Dig says I will never find a set of Christmas present woodcarving tools unless I buy them online, and it is too late for that. He thinks he is triumphant. I can imagine him already, polishing his crown that says 'I was right'.

I am all out to prove him wrong. So much so, I would probably sell both my arms to do that right now.

It is lucky then, that today is the final car boot sale just before Christmas. It's a ten minute drive; sprawling, busy, filled with strange and lustrous objects like a medieval trader's market outside Samarkand. Last time I visited, I happily trawled through piles and piles of wares; junk from garages, attics, heaps and mounds of discarded remnants. Treasure, all.

Surely, I think, someone will be turning over grandfather's woodcarving tools, forgetting, or not caring, how his gnarled hands held those handles, and thinking, 'good for a fiver, the lot'.

On the busy front, I could kick myself.

Only on arriving do I recall that the last time I visited here, it was a warm summer day, buzzing with ice cream sellers and sticky drippy ice cream. All the people from miles around probably opened up their doors into every room, threw out the old, let the light pour in, then came to renew those rooms again with wanted treasure. I did. I bought a deep glass bowl. I like to think it crystal, and that the stallholder was a fool to let it go for a mere three pounds. The first day I brought that holy grail home, I filled it overflowing with strawberries, fresh picked from the farm. Now it is positioned to catch the drips from under the ailing boiler.

So, not busy. I blame the freezing temperatures, permafrost ground, warmer options down the shopping mall, and the fact that a load of old junk covered in snow doesn't have quite the pulling power of a load of old junk covered in summertime. At least in summer you are tempted to linger, be seduced by objects slowly turning in your fingers, fall in love with scars and knocks and dents, and see history trapped in chipped china. In winter I want only to hurry past with my hands buried in my pockets.

But then I pass a hooded figure out the back of a white van selling tools, and lo and behold, as if a star just guided me, here is a set of woodcarving tools, new, wrapped in plastic, held tight in a wooden box.

I peer over them, looking to see if they might do the trick. 'Alright love?' the hooded figure calls, suddenly springing up and cheerful, as if I might be the only customer to brave the morning. 'Those are excellent tools! First class! £15 the set!' He speaks brightly, like next he might suggest they carve anything, solve health problems, cure rheumatism. 'It doesn't have a small v or a small u' I answer. I didn't know I knew those words, but out they popped, and it suddenly sounds like I know what I'm talking about. 'Tenner, then' he grins. He thinks I know what I'm doing. I don't.

But now we are up by a set of woodcarving tools, with four days still to go to their Christmas unveiling. I can return home to Dig, made of ice, but gloating, carrying the burning fire of righteousness tucked under my arm, swaddled in a battered Asda carrier bag.


Rachel M. said...

WHOOP WHOOP! Good job Grit!

Jax said...

Good for you. My triumph was a fleecy nightie, women's size 6 to fit my beanpole of a 9 year old, after the fleecy children's pjs she fancied sold out.

sharon said...

Way to go Grit!

Grit said...

i am converted, definitely, to the boot sale. i shall return when it is not quite so permafrost.