So, I haven't added anything here for a wee while because I've been a bit busy. Two things really; firstly, I've been working on a second Travelogue about our weekend on Arran at Easter and secondly; we had our annual jumble sale on Saturday which is what this blog entry is really about.
We used to do two jumble sales a year but we now only do one, we changed not because we didn't need the cash but because jumble sales are fucking awful, I know I've sworn there but the point being made deserves it; jumble sales are fucking awful - there, I swore again.
Asking people for their cast offs is bad enough, asking them when you are aged 38 knowing you were doing exactly the same thing when you were aged 8 is really depressing, when I was 8 years old I was positive I'd be living on the moon, not still asking middle class people for their crap so we could flog it to the great unwashed.
I should say, I'm grateful people come to our jumble sales, the vast majority, and we're talking all except maybe four or five repeat offenders are good and decent folks looking for a bargain. What we also get though are the dealers and lets not beat around the bush; scam-artists who are there for financial gain. I'm not against this though, I get that our jumble sales are at the bottom of a chain which essentially recycles goods but why do these people have to be so craven about it?
For example, we had a drum kit handed in, we moved it over to the community centre where the sale is held on the Friday night only to find the cymbals missing the following morning. We had a good look around, made some phone calls but couldn't track them down. Oddly, the stands for the cymbals remained, someone had dismantled the high-hat thingy and taken the brass bits that make the noise.
I spoke to the centre staff who said they'd thrown someone out after not being able to identify them as a volunteer, which by the way is another area of concern for us; the number of people who claim to want to help but just want to rake, we collect for an entire week and they turn up on the day of the sale with sunny offers of assistance, when you next see them they're not humping furniture about; they're having a good rummage through the clothes.
Anyway, I digress (a bit like Columbo, which is apt.) I continued my investigations until eventually the cymbals were recovered from behind some bins at the back of the building. We think the person who'd been asked to leave earlier (and who remains at large today) took the cymbals so he could return later and make a much diminished offer on the now incomplete drum kit, I think you'll agree this was a heinous & calculated crime, I mean think of the children for fucks sake!
OK, the children aren't exactly impoverished (the scout group for which the sale is in aid is mostly attended by children from the same middle class homes the jumble comes from) but still: the humanity!
We worked up a profile on the perp, (see what I did there?) We decided he was a male, in his thirties, with no vehicle (the cymbals were stashed behind some bins remember) possibly with some drumsticks about his person (because they were missing too.) In hindsight, we shouldn't have put the cymbals back so we could snare him; assuming he hadn't checked his hiding place, he'd have no idea we'd recovered them. We're not that devious though and we also wanted to sell them for as much as we could get.
This is just one example of how shitty some people can be, I haven't for example mentioned the posh ladies who used to steal clothes - they'd work their way along the table, dropping what they want into a bag on the floor; kicking it along as they go. When they got to the end of the table, they'd pick it up and walk away. We got round that by getting Cubs to crawl under the tables to drag it all back, the look on the faces of the fragrant lady-thieves was extremely gratifying - they'd been doing it for years and their free ride was now over.
Then of course you have the OAP's who jumble-lift, the just pick the things they want, stuff it in a floral print bag and amble away safe in the knowledge that an 11 year old boy isn't going to challenge someone who reminds them of their own loving Gran. We got round that one too by asking for other OAP volunteers to do the challenging; I've seen old ladies being frog-marched out the door by other old ladies, it is endlessly entertaining to watch.
The most annoying though, are the dealers. They think because they have a stall at East Fortune market or an eBay account they should get special treatment. These are the people who are truly craven, they'll do anything for an advantage and we always know who they are because they attend year in and year out, we even know when they die because they stop coming, (don't suggest they may have retired instead for these people never retire, its a way of life.) It's the dealers who sneak in before the doors officially open, they cajole and persuade helpers into reserving the choice bits. I know this sounds harsh, but they are so relentless, I have in the past found myself in the middle of the hall, in front of many children and their parents who've come to help, yelling fuck off as loud as I can at some feckless twat who just would not leave. The thing is, the kid's parents, didn't tut at me, they tutted at the dealer because they know exactly what they're like.
We've nearly had people come to blows over this, which is completely daft when you realise its over things people have thrown away. Punters queuing patiently become quite exercised if they see other punters inside raking around and putting things aside.
I know you think this is all a bit petty and parochial and you're right; it is. I say I hate it and I do, but I think its one of those things that you love to hate, I mean I have no idea how that works but it seems to be so for jumble sales.
As usual, levels of acceptability vary greatly for people when deciding what to donate and since we can't tell them to fuck off when they hand in, say, a toilet seat (we got one this year,) we just have to accept it. Also donated, every single sale, is an entire back catalogue of Country Life magazines, I mean seriously, who the fuck is going to buy that? Or how about a 'Teas Maid' with all the jugs missing? We're bound to get a good price for that right enough. Or the also-inevitable foot spa, of all the disgusting things (with the exception of the toilet seat) who's going to buy a moldy second hand foot spa?
I could go on at length so I'll stop here, we managed to raise £2587 from our sale which will keep us going for a wee while. One of the reasons I published The Great Glen Way was to raise money so we might not have to do jumble sales but in truth, even if royalties do go through the roof (and lets be honest, they won't,) I think we'd still hold our annual sale. However; we would be able to tell people who hand us foot spas and incomplete Teas Maids to fuck off.
(Look out for my soon to be published 'On Arran' - this short eTravelogue (I'm coining a new phrase) will be free, the idea being to entice people into buy The Great Glen Way.)