Sunday, 13 July 2008

FLEA Market Day

Yesterday was flea market day for Jo and I. It began at 4.20 a.m. abysmally with me feeling like death and swearing continuously under my breath. Normally I don’t mind the early start but when I’m really ill simply getting out of bed at any time of day is an effort. Jo suggested we didn’t bother but with the car packed and money to be made I grumbled something to that effect and she put the car in gear. We arrived at the flea market at 5.25 a.m. (a.m. stands for aerly morning!) before the gates were open but already there were Alan (whose Russian wife Maya has a stall and who himself runs the tea and toasties stand) and Dave, the toy guy, with his son Sam. Alan’s figure is unmistakeable as you drive up the service road – he is as big and wide as the bin lorries with hands like petrified bunches of bananas.

Russ and Margie arrived at about 5.40 with the combination to the gate and a small host of stallwart stallholders followed shortly after – as did the rain We got our favourite stall as usual (touch wood).

Jo unpacked the car while I laid the stall out and then Jo went home for a couple of hours. I’d just got the tarpaulin up when it began to absolutely bucket down. Another fine day at the office.... The photos were taken on my phone. If I took my camera it would be pinched before I’d had my first cup of coffee unless I padlocked it to my genitalia. And even then...

Fortunately I began to feel a bit better, the weather picked up and three things in particular made the day worthwhile. The first was having our best takings for six months.

The second was a conversation between a cocky Scouse customer and the beautiful Maya (pronounced MYeh – the Russian version of Mary), six foot tall and most of it legs. He was chatting her up and I didn’t hear the first part of the dialogue , only tuning in when I heard Maya say rather frostily in her slightly broken English “I don’t think my husband would like that.”
“Ah, but he’s not here is he?” said the brash little guy.
“A wouldnae bet on that ‘cos ‘e bloody is,” came Alan’s broad Glaswegian accent from immediately behind him.
Scouse guy turned and looked at the gargantuan Alan in his butcher-type apron, shrank to about two feet tall and scuttled off, calling over his shoulder, “Ha, Ha, Ha, everyone likes a little joke, don’t they...”

The third was a conversation between two know-it-alls as they examined my books (and blocked access to half the stall for ages).
“That’s not a very good book on trees. I’ve got a better one at home. It’s a new one. It’s called ‘Trees’ or something like that by, erm, someone.”
“Does it tell you what the first English tree was? Because I learned the other day that the first English tree wasn’t the Oak. Everyone thinks it’s the Oak but it isn’t. The Oak was imported so it could be grown for ships.”
“Oh, yes, I knew that – Henry VIII, wasn’t it.”
“That’s right.”
“So what was the first English tree?”
“The Sycamore”
“I always thought it was the Yew, or did we get that from the French to make bows?”
“No, it couldn’t have been the Yew because there are no native British conifers – they were all planted in the twentieth century from abroad. The Oak was brought in a bit earlier that’s why the Sycamore was the oldest one.”

I could give you the rest of the conversation along similar lines but will settle for those sentence which managed to cram so much rubbish into such a small space.
1. The Yew is a native British tree. 2. The Scots Pine is native to all of Britain and, with Birch, was once the major tree cover. 3. The Yew bears red, berry-like, arils with a single seed, and not conventional cones – though it is evergreen. 4. Conifer planting began centuries ago and Wordsworth wrote how upset he was at all the conifers being planted around the Lake District. 5. Oaks are native. 6. Sycamores are not native.

But even this piece of conversation was eclipsed after a third chap had joined them and they started talking about Hitler and his plot to flood all the workers cottages in Tranmere by dropping a 1,000lb bomb on the Mersey Tunnel. Even Fiona and Ann with their dislike of tunnels might have difficulty envisaging how a tunnel through the rock under the Mersey could be blown up in such a way as to flood houses three miles away and 150 feet above sea level!

Whatever I may think of the flea market at five in the morning it never fails to provide some wonderful chunks of social interaction before the day is out!

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