Sunday, 18 July 2010

21. The Carboot Sale

There's something about carboot sales. It's the early morning bustle as the sellers park up in the chosen location, and the unpacking of boxes worth of goods onto foldable tables; the mad rush of what I would call the "professional" carbooter - the ones who have a keen eye and know what to look for and what price to ask; the bartering; the cheap cups of tea in polystyrene cups and the smell of cooking bacon (a carboot tradition).

It's not the first time I've tried to sell things at a carboot sale but, since then, I've learnt some tricks:
  • The first one thing to remember how much you bought something for and then realise that you're probably only going to get 10% back for it. It really can be as low as that. 
  • If you have anything above £5.00 at a won't sell. Or, at least, that's my experience. 
  • When it comes to the day, you have to be ruthless. Ask yourself: do you really want to take something back home again? Or are you willing to sell it cheaper for the sake of getting rid of it.
  • When it comes to bartering you've got two types of people: 1. The type who actually like to barter and play by the rules. They say "will you take a pound for the two of these" (knowing that they've been labelled as £1.50 each), you say "two pounds", they say "£1.50". That's the way it's supposed to work. 2. The second type of barterer will say "will you take a pound for the two of these" (knowing that they been labelled as £1.50 each); you say "two pounds", they say "a pound", you say "one fifty" (hoping), they say "a pound".
  • Having a 50 pence "bargain" box is like a lucky-dip for adults. Make sure that it's filled with little trinkets and junk and they'll spend ages rifling through it in the hopes of finding that real bargain. 
  • Keep your eyes peeled. Nobody likes to think that there are thieves around but items are quite apt to just "walk off" into someone's handbag. 
I'm not a materialistic person, but watching people look for a bargain as they rifled through my belongings was not easy. It made me feel...grubby.

This was the stuff that I'd bought, saved for, and been given over the past fifteen years or so. By mid-morning, half of my things were sold for a fraction of what I'd bought them for and it slowly dawned on me: I'm thirty years old and selling my life. Or a life...a "past" life.

I've been through this all before, of course, when I had to de-clutter when I moved last. Hundreds of books were thrown in the bookbank, carloads of crap was taken to the dump, and the whole process actually hurt me emotionally. Why? They're only inanimate objects, after all.

Over the last year, I've really wanted to sort out my belongings but storing tons of boxes in the attic felt better than having to dig through it all and get rid of what I didn't need, because I knew that digging through it would bring back unwanted memories. And that's the point. I realised that it's not the objects themselves that I wanted to keep but, perhaps, the emotions and memories I've attached to them I wanted to keep buried. It was avoidance. But it was also a weight around my neck and now that I've sold nearly everything, the weight has gotten lighter.

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