Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Git off ma land…

Blisteringly hot last Sunday, and Himself had far better things to do. But he's a trooper, so he got up at 6 with me, had coffee, grabbed 2 of the 4 suitcases, and trundled off ahead. I grabbed the other two, gritted my teeth (what's left of them), and followed on behind. We crossed the main road easily (7am on a Sunday, who's out there?) and passed through the estate (council, not stately home) to the park. 7am on a Sunday in Brockwell Park, and the world and her keep-fit mum-auntie-father-brother-civilpartnership-on-a-mission-to-look-good-in-a-bathing-suit were all there. We passed dog-walkers. Their charges were - well, charging - all over the place, excited at the prospect of freedom for an hour or two. We met runners, joggers, walkers and crawlers (a baby was giving his mum a rare lie-in by taking the dad out for a stroll).

We got to the lido car-park. It was already very full. Damn. I asked the guy in charge were there any pitches left? He looked stressed, and told me it was too early in the morning for this. He was obviously already dealing with fuckwittery. One couple had parked their double-decker bus diagonally across two spaces and were setting up stall in a third pitch. She was brittle in opposition,  expecting her partner to back her corner. Another vendor had parked her car right in the middle of two spaces, and the attendant was pleading with her to move over and make space for someone else. We waited. They moved. We moved in and unpacked.

My stock was mostly books. Books have formed the foundations of my life. I am addicted to them. I like the feel of them, I like to touch them, and most of all I like the way they smell. We have too many. I was selling some I had collected during my profession as a book designer. I specialised in gardening and health, so I had quite a few on those subjects, which I had used as reference when commissioning illustrations or photography, or for ideas. A man came over and browsed. 'Interested in gardening?' he asked. I explained. 'Book design?' He told me he was engaged in some work involving teaching Chinese to primary school children and that he was putting it together in a book. 'I need a mentor,' he said, and gave me his email so I could volunteer my services at some future date.

Himself went back home to paint the windows (another story for another time). I was left with one neighbour, Kim, whose bike you see in the picture above (it went for a tenner), and another neighbour to my left, whose goods crept ever closer to mine throughout the morning, preventing people from coming down to see my books and also some of her own stuff too, which she hung on a rail. I grew increasingly irritated at the big cardboard box, which she kept moving on top of my stock. Eventually, like some character from a radio 4 play, I stuffily squeaked at her that I was going to move her box so that punters could get to my suitcases, and she blinked back at me in bemusement, not getting it at all. I thought about the pioneers and claim-stakers shown in the films of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. They would've understood.

At 1, Himself reappeared, very hot and bothered, having slipped on the ladder up to the windows and spilt half a pot of milky paint on the ground. He swore and cursed about it as he gallantly helped me pack up again, and back we trundled with half the stock we'd brought. At home I cashed up. £50 minus a tenner for the pitch. For 5-ish hours. About minimum wage?

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