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Wheels and deals

My wife said it was time for a family outing, so I told her my uncle’s gay. As I’d misunderstood, I was informed of my eagerness to visit a flea market in order to flog some of our high class antiques. I wanted to do this the next day. This helped me understand why she and the children had been busily packing boxes and carting them around. I had thought of asking but didn’t want to cause an unnecessary distraction.

She said I’d enjoy the flea market; the cut and thrust of micro-capitalism. And, as she made it known that beer would be available to each according to their need, it sounded like a pleasant enough way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t even mind hearing we’d be operating in accordance with a cash and carry basis, with her efforts concentrating more on the former. After all, how heavy can a few boxes of odds and ends, six carrier bags, a couple of old suitcases, a picnic box, two chairs and a wallpapering table be?

As we loaded up the car the answer proved surprising. It wasn’t immediately clear why we had to undertake this in the evening, given the imminence of a highly educational gameshow on television, in which teams of unknown celebrities battle it out wif there speeling scills. However, the solution sounded horrendously like s-i-x o’ c-l-o-c-k i-n t-h-e m-o-r-n-i-n-g. “You expect me to get up then?” I spluttered from the floor onto which I’d fallen.

My wife shook her head reassuringly. “No, Little Fellow. That’s what time we’ll be there. Come along, off to bed.” I was disappointed to discover that I needed plenty of sleep.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the birds in our garden at an antemeridian quarter-to-five. Their efforts sounded so half-hearted, I suspect they were trying to remember the words. As for myself, I was attempting to get that necessary sleep, but the prods and kicks made it impossible. I think I washed a face and brushed some teeth, although I’m not certain to whom they belonged. Coffee was poured into my mouth through a funnel, and I was set in motion towards the car.

Strangely, the children were in far better voice than the dawn chorus specialists. We possibly drove through deserted streets but I can’t remember. What I do recall is that the parking spaces by the large, derelict site were anything but deserted. Eventually, the car came to a halt a bit up the road, over a now railway-less bridge, past a part-demolished factory, further up the road, round a corner and just the other side of a Greek restaurant. As heavily laden staggering finally brought us to our prearranged point of sale, I enquired as to how the rest of our stock would arrive. My wife handed me the car keys and commenced setting up shop.

By the time I’d returned, the table had been erected and gems were displayed upon it. I mentioned that it seemed rather minimalist. My wife agreed and sent me back to the four-wheeled warehouse. On my next visit, I discovered we had some neighbours, though whether friends or fierce rivals was still unclear. In any event, they didn’t seem to have much to sell. Coming to think of it. I remembered to stop just the other side of the Greek restaurant and unloaded the last items from the boot. Our table was now looking ready for business. However, between mouthfuls of cheese sandwich, my wife reminded me of the essential carrier bags on the back seat. I set off to the car again as my family settled down to breakfast.

Returning to our emporium was made difficult by the profusion of cars being unloaded in the immediate vicinity. Apparently this is allowed as long as the vehicles are then parked off-site. I stared in some bafflement but was told it was unimportant, seeing as we’d already carried everything here. A sandwich was shoved in my mouth and I was allowed temporary use of one of the chairs.

I’d always associated flea markets with fundraising efforts for good causes, but this was arranged by professionals. Judging by the number plates around, it drew people in from as far afield as Poland and Romania. As time wore on, it became evident they weren’t charmed by our top-quality range, though we did receive an enquiry for the picnic box.

Business in our corner wasn’t brisk at any of the tables. The one-eyed, jumbo Mickey Mouse offered by one of the neighbours elicited no evident interest. Possibly the overcast conditions and pessimistic weather forecast contributed to this being a day for buyers. Our hideous silver dustpan and brush went for only a single euro, and the set of three disgusting pictures fetched a meagre two. (The only crudity involved was the incompetence of the ‘artist’.) However, I was quite satisfied with 50 cents for a small Ninja Turtle still in its original packing, though I fear it might soon feature on the local equivalent of Antiques Roadshow. At least the rain had held off.

When, at about ten o’clock, the weather deities could contain themselves no longer, plastic sheeting sprouted everywhere with Teutonic efficiency. Even our precious treasures were quickly under protection. The only significant casualty was a classy, idiotically small straw-hat.

When all was said and done, it was hardly a great commercial success. I think we made about thirty euros. At least my wife managed to get a much more convenient parking space for the reloading, and the plastic sheeting had enjoyed itself when sufficiently stimulated by the wind. Damp but not disheartened (nor much richer), we headed back home at about noon. I only became tearful when I remembered the previous night’s mention of beer for the needy.

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