‘How I scored a moral victory at the car boot’

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I AM at Tetsworth car boot sale. It is sunny and dry and since I am habitually an early riser I quite often stroll up and down the grassy Tetsworth field looking intently for nothing in particular.

This is my first visit of the summer and I am slightly confused by the new permanent fencing around the pitches.

They may be safer and more sturdy but in the good old days I always liked to helpfully hold the old rope around the field down, then twang it upwards as my family stepped over.

Deprived of this simple pleasure you now see people scurrying towards the gaps in the fence as new arrivals steam up the track with eyes only for bargains.

All human life is here. Hamster cages, candlesticks, Trevor Francis tracksuits, vinyl records and rusty old rakes are stacked on row upon row of wonky trestle tables.

Dewy-eyed kids wipe away tears as the toys of their infancy are sold for 50p while possessors of Sega Megadrives and radio cassette players eye the crowd with a pleading urgency to try and find someone caught in a 1980s time slip.

There are familiar faces all around. The lady who organises the event hurries with her straw hat and luminous tabard while the lady with the nice cupcakes tries to tempt you away from the smell of fried onions at the burger vans.

And the same conversation is played out a thousand times: “What time did you get here… how is it going… at least you’ll make your money back.”

As I wander I spy a book that I like the look of. I have never quite got the hang of bartering so dread asking the price of things but pluck up courage and ask. “Four pounds” comes the answer.

“But I saw the same book for £3.73 in Asda on Thursday,” I think, but crucially don’t have the courage to say. I smile and walk on. Will I ever get the knack of knocking people down?

I see someone haggle an IKEA lamp down from 50p to 20p and can only wonder at the front of the buyer. I pick up the same book for 50p down the next aisle.It’s a steal AND I come out tops in this negotiation - I get a free bag to put it in.

A moral victory I feel. Smugly I retrace my steps and wave the book as I pass first lady with her unsold book. She plays it cool and pretends not to know who I am. But I know that this time I am a car boot winner. I go home, read the first three pages then remember that I have read it before.