Sunday morning started with a soft sunrise diluted through thin clouds but it was a start that promised to be followed by clear blue skies and very warm weather. Instead of going straight to the stables to see our horses we took a minor diversion to a car boot sale or in North America a ‘trunk sale’ halfway between Brockenhurst and Lymington in Hampshire.
As we entered the site we were assailed by the smell of bacon being grilled in the now very warm sun filled morning air. We paid the small entry fee of twenty five pence and armed with our bags set off on a treaure hunt through the hundred or so stalls set up.
In some ways there was a hint of sadness in some of the stuff for sale, Things like kiddies toys that carried memories of happy children playing in the gardens or in the houses of parents who were now vendors. Collections of DVD’s which were a reflection of peoples tastes in home entertainment that were so eagerly bought on first release, taken home, viewed once or even maybe twice, that had gathered dust, taken up space and now were going to repaet the cycle with someone else. Or, they may even have been going through this cycle for a third or fourth time.
To me the most interesting stalls were the ones that were a ragbag mixture of bits and pieces and of course stacks of books. My first lucky find was a pen and envelop opener in a solid midnight blue presentation case. Very small, about the size of two cigarette packs placed end to end and extremely well made. The second lucky find, in the photograph, was a pipe tobacco container made of turned and carved wood. Not the best made product but it carried a patina of use and charm accumulated since it left the hands of the maker. There are no markings on it. There are some holes in the base where the raw wood was attached to the lathe for turning but no other clues as to the source and the age. The sellers did not know much about it either so the mystery surrounding it has been passed on. I could not find any similar product on the internet. It sits on my desk filled with raw frankinsence now.
I found two books. One was ‘Thurbers Dogs’ which I first read at secondary school after it was leant to me by my English teacher, Mr Gowers. He gave it to me to read to broaden my reading to American books including works by F Scott Fitzgerald. It is packed with innocent cartoons almost like those drawn by Spike Milligan. Simple one dimensional line drawings illustrating the life of dogs and their relationship with humans through Thurber’s eyes. He was a lover of bloodhounds.
The only experience I have had of these was on a drag hunt. They were huge slobbery animals not endowed with the sharpest intellects beyond following a scent trail. The matriarch of the pack was Delila, a huge lollipoing hound, who kept going off scent and into the rhododendrun bushes on the estate where we were hunting. Eventually she suffered the indignity of being manhandled by two hunt servants into the back of a landrover for the rest of the hunt. I know I said they may not be the most intelligent of dogs but perhaps Delila had worked it all out and had found a way of avoiding trailing across the country.
It is in the old style Penguin book format with those distinctive orange vertical stripes at either side of the front cover. I paid twenty five pence for it which was twice the original price when the book first hit the shelves in 1959.
‘If poodles, who walk so easily on their hind legs, ever learn the little tricks of speech and reason, I should not be surprised if they made a better job of it than Man, who would seem to be surely but not slowly slipping back on to all fours'(Thurber).
The second book was ‘Eastern Approaches’ by Fitzroy Maclean which ouzed of age and dampness in its fading buff coloured dust sheet. How else could someone who enjoys reading real life adventure stories not be attracted to a book that has written on its frontpiece:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the golden journey to Samarkand
Fitzroy Maclean was originally a British diplomat who started his career in Paris in the 1930’s but looking to get away from a relatively cosy posting volunteered to go to Moscow by train and then beyond to Georgia, also by train. That is about as far as I have got in the book by page 45. I am sure there are more tales to tell as the world progresses towards World War II and Maclean continues his journeys that led him back to Britain and join the Cameron Highlanders eventually becoming commissioned and a member of the SAS.
Our car was parked next to an immaculately maintained Volkswagon camper van. While we were waiting for the xit traffic to die down a bit the owner of the camper was struggling with a welding machine he had just bought at the sale. We watched him for a second or two and then started talking to him. We were regaled with a dialogue describing his collection of Volkswagon campers and commercial vehicles he had at home including a 1956 split windscreen model. He then went on about the welding machine telling us that there were various MIG models and the one that he was going to put in his van was the MIG16 which was perfect for the welding he had to do to one of his vans.
The skies clouded over, the temperature dropped and the traffic cleared so it was time to be on our way.