Seduced by the car boot sale charm

Published 26/07/2014 | 12:00

THE niece and nephew came to stay last week. Every year, the 'city mice' endure somewhat of a shock to their system as they come to terms with the rustic, more primitive, existence of their 'country mice' cousins. And every year they grow to love it that little bit more.

The niece, on the verge of dipping her toe into the bubbling cauldron that is her teenage years was telling me she wants to get into marketing when she leaves school.

I thought this a very interesting ambition for one of such a young age and decided on the perfect project for them to get their teeth into, a project that would keep them out of trouble for the week. They could have a good hunt about the house and anything they felt wasn't needed anymore, they could try sell it at the weekly car boot sale.

'You can split whatever you earn between the four of you,' I told them and with euro symbols flashing in their eyeballs, they got to work. All I had to provide was a black marker and some price tags. The rest was up to them.

The day of the car boot sale came and the good woman stuck her nose in the boxes to make sure the likes of her bottle of Poeme (a scent that makes a man go weak at the knees) wasn't flogged for the same price as a lollipop.

Once she had given her seal of approval, we packed up the car and headed for the marketplace. As we drove down a winding back road towards the field where the car boot sale took place, I could sense her looking at me out of the corner of her eye. That's when I know she has something to say.

'You have brought me to some strange places in our years together,' she said, 'and this is right up there with the best of them.' Then she had a little chuckle to herself.

We paid our tenner to the gateman, in turn he directed us to a spot in the field where our mini-entrepreneurs could start peddling their wares. I hadn't even stopped the car when we were spotted by what I can best describe as a 'car boot sale veteran'. Eagle-eyed, she swooped on her vulnerable prey, her hand gripping the handle of the car boot by the time the key had been removed from the ignition.

'How much for that?' she asked, pointing at a giant shoe that I had never seen before. That's when I saw a side to the good woman that I had also never seen before.

All scepticism was swooshed to one side as she described the benefits of buying this giant shoe to the woman. In fact, she described it in such complimentary terms, I nearly wanted to buy it myself.

'I'll give you a fiver for it,' said the customer, almost swooning after such a brilliant sales pitch. 'Sold!' said the good woman. And in the distance I heard the thud of a hammer fall.

The woman then spotted a few sausages tucked away in the corner of the boot that were wrapped in tin foil, and enquired how much we wanted for them. 'Eh, they are for the children,' the good woman informed her.

All in all, the car boot sale was a massive hit. The kids set up a table and watched their homemade loom bands shift like hot cakes.

I left them all to it and went for a wander, resisting the urge to stock up on a car full of things that I didn't need. In fact, the men mostly did the looking while the women made the transactions happen. Though one man was quite happy to snap up a copy of The Borstal Boy – a film I was happy to recommend.

When we got home, I was handed the float of cash and told to count up the earnings. As promised, the proceeds from the evening were split between the four young businesspeople.

The good woman even agreed that the car boot sale had been a good idea (I needed to sit down for that one).

The city mice were then packed back off to Dublin with their wallets a little heavier, and the knowledge of how to generate some pocket money instilled in their minds.

I made the good woman a cup of tea and as we sat at the kitchen table she looked out the back window into the horizon before saying, 'Next time I think I'll sell the sausage sandwiches too.'

Enniscorthy Guardian

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