Boot Fair Virgin No More

 by Martin Belam, 18 July 2005

Until yesterday I was a car boot fair virgin, but on Saturday we got up at the crack of dawn to join a couple of friends in having a stall at the regular fair in Woodford. Amazingly, we had picked the morning that this particular fair was being filmed for "Car Booty", and even more amazingly, ended up being the stall behind and to the right of the people participating in the show, so there should be some nice shots of the back of me on daytime TV soon. I wish I'd bought my BBC pass, I might have been able to snaffle some of the crews catering.

Car Booty Crew    Car Booty Crew Film the Stall Behind Us

We sold some very odd things - an old plastic goat ornament given to me as a joke years ago, a tatty vintage Inter Milan shirt, a set of playing cards that the wife had collected for me free from the Guardian prior to either the World Cup or Euro 2004. They sold to a guy who actually deals in cards (excuse the pun) who then told us his life story into the bargain.

Luckily we had been given some tips by a couple of friends who have done it before, so we weren't totally phased when we were besieged with dealers as we struggled to unpack the car. Everything was already priced, and my float was ready in my moneybag. We were literally making sales and bartering from the second we opened the boot.

Some stuff didn't sell which disappointed me - having overcome the mental barrier to start selling off bits'n'pieces of my Doctor Who collection, I was then horrified to see some of the books remain unsold. Especially the ones featuring Chris'n'Billie from the recent series which I hoped would be snapped up by parents eager to keep their kids away from the satanic influence of Harry Potter. We also didn't get rid of some of the bulkier items, which was a shame, as we are more interested in selling stuff by the cubic metre rather than getting any money back.

Doctor Who

I had been slightly dreading it - firstly because it sent me back in time to the days when I earned my crust doing record fairs on a Sunday, and secondly because of having to get up at 5am in the morning, do the fair, and then head off to the rearranged R.E.M. gig at Hyde Park all in one day. In the end we were virtually on-the-go non-stop for around 20 hours. I also wasn't encouraged by the first sign we saw when we got it - "No Air Rifles and No Air Pistols". In the end though I enjoyed it.

No Air Rifles No Air Pistols

There was one thing though that no amount of fun or money could compensate for. The most irritating stall by far was the "Request A Song" stall. For a pound, a guy with a guitar and a karaoke machine would massacre the song of your choice. It was the perfect set-up for that well-worn old joke - "Do you know 'Over the hills and far away?'".

Wanted For Crimes Against Music


Man alive - this sounds hilarious. Wish I could have seen it!

What was your best sale? And did you succumb to the commercial frenzy and buy anything for yourselves (following the one-in-one-out rule of shopping?)

>> did you succumb to the commercial frenzy and buy anything for yourselves

The only thing we purchased was doughnuts, and technically we swapped them with Stuart for a book I had on the stall that he wanted.

>> What was your best sale?

20p for the plastic goat ornament was the funniest, but there were two sales that went to good homes that pleased me.

One was my couple of fossils, that the missus sold to a fossil collector who was over the moon to find them.

The second was some 12" x 12" frames which I bought ages ago when a frame-maker touted them in Reckless as frames for album covers. I then never used them, but on Saturday a girl bought a couple of vinyl albums from J. and V.'s stall next door, then came over, sized up our frames, and bought those as well. I'm glad they'll be used for records in the end.

I'll look out for the Walthamstow show next time I'm idling the day away at home.

I used to take my BBC pass everywhere. Not so much to try to get anything with it, but rather so that I could get into BBC buildings to use the canteens!

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