Thursday, 18 August 2011

When Magpies Attack

I'm taking a weekend “break” from churning out product rewrites. It's ten to eight in the morning, The Boy's alarm went off some time ago and we've slept through it. I've spent the last 15 minutes charging around, only briefly stopping to check my watch and realise it's actually an hour earlier than we originally thought. Now showered and semi-awake, there's regrettably no turning back to bed. Anyway, as time does, it speeds up and despite having much longer than planned we're once again nearly running late.

We pull up about twenty minutes later and I'm clutching the cherry Lucozade I hope will steer me through the day. We're ushered towards “a pitch” and pull-up. Before we have time to contemplate unloading, we're surrounded. Battling our way out, we nervously push past the crowd and attempt to set up shop – a task that increasingly becomes near impossible.

The few boxes we have got out of the car are already being rummaged through. I'm in a dilemma – do I watch our “goods” being man-handled or continue to unload an exceedingly full car?

“Got any jewellery?” he says peering through the car window, hands on the glass to conceal his eyes from the non-existent glare of the non-existent sunshine.

I curtly respond and continue attempting to place the contents of several boxes on a roll-out table.

“How much for that violin?” Another vulture says pointing through the boot at the still boxed instrument. Not happy with the answer, he tells us he regularly gets “them” for a tenner and we're left imagining some kind of bizarre dump specialising in nearly-new violins.

Choosing to get on with the task in hand, we continue attempting to unload, except I've become the watcher, the amateur security guard, attempting to safeguard our potential earnings. Taking on the manly role of removal man, The Boy lifts all the boxes out of the car and leaves me to interact with the increasingly demanding crowd.

There's another half hour until we're officially open to the “public” but it seems “the public” don't know this. We're actually both feeling a little over-whelmed and perhaps a tad uneasy. Deciding as an ex-teacher I'm well equipped to deal with the situation, I firmly but politely ask them to let us be so that we can unload everything and lay it all out properly, making it easier for them to look through. I get a few snorts of acknowledgement but the rummaging continues.

The jewellery fan seems to have had enough looking through my wares and single-mindedly asks: “Got any gold or silver?” I'm confidently doubtful but place the final box on the table. “Just costume then?” He outwardly projects his disappointment having eyed-over the goods.

Less perturbed, a sea of snake-like hands grab at the box and I feel like I'm part of a magic trick watching where each clutched item has gone. I'm dumbfounded when someone actually asks how much a necklace is and even more surprised when they start to try and barter with my two for a pound pricing.

In less than half an hour the quantity of jewellery has seriously diminished to mostly plastics. A hatted man is pouring at a large Oliver Bonas necklace box full of fake and exceedingly tacky plain and pink diamanté, mostly from C & A and New Look. "How much?" he asks me. I look-over the contents of the box counting the number of items inside, aware everything needs to go and of the sorry provenance of this tat. “Four pounds for the lot.” He challenges me to drop by fifty pence and throw in the box, claiming he fixes up damaged jewellery. For whatever reason, he's clearly telling porkies as none of this “jewellery” is broken. Taking his money, I'm just grateful to see it go.

Ten minutes later, a lady leans over and smugly says, “He had you” with a wry smile on her face. I'm really not sure who she means. She describes the hatted man and tells me she saw him find a silver mark. Never one to believe in the impossible, I brush this remark aside, finally able to finish setting up what's left now that the vultures and magpies have gone.

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