Apr 20 2011

Dumfries Carboot sale

To the unitiated this looks like a Clairol foot spa convention. We are in a field surrounded by lilac hued hills and mountains on the outskirts of Dumfries on a beautiful spring morning. And what does one want to do on a beautiful spring morning? Haggle over a dog-eared My Story by Katie Price and hark at the sheer amount of pre-loved Clairol foot spas.

I love carboots.  I am cheap and greedy, enjoy quantity over quality which stands me in good stead at a carboot where a tenner in your hand proclaims you king of all that surrounds you- like an oil baron in Harrods, you know that practically anything you see can be yours. I like the excitement factor, the possibility of finding a stall peopled by an upper market version of me selling stuff I have always wanted for 10p an item. Occasionally this happens, in a low level way- a frenzy of books about ghosts, wind chimes and faux fur ensues and I guiltily realise I am shaking.

There is no esoteric nirvana here in prosaic Dumfries. There is however a large framed poster featuring a silhouette of a man playing the saxophone. In big writing it proclaims ‘Women love me, fish fear me.’ It is a phrase so mysterious and complex I am still mulling it over today like some sacred text in the Koran. And where does it fit with the saxophone?

It’s all so exciting and added to the normal excitement of seeing the laden trestle tables of Lean Mean Grilling Machines glinting in the sun is the fact that we’re in Scotland!

An aura of exoticness and a slight sense of danger pervades. A man behind a stall makes a comment about the weather and when I reply I am aware I sound like the queen. There appear to be platform leather vibrating slippers for sale for a fiver. Sadomasochism and comfortable indoor footwear finally together as one.

Of course the guiltiest pleasure of carboots is the sheer incredulousness of some of the wares the vendors are trying to market. In 2010 a Lisa Stansfield single is not marketable currency. Neither is a 1996 Schotts almanac. The sheer perverse in nature might however enjoy completing their World Towers jigsaw puzzle  (1000 pieces, no planes)

I feel for those vendors with their sorry empty stalls who believe in some TV programme mantra where clutter is the enemy. No! Clutter is good, foraging is expected at a carboot because of that underlying treasure hunter within you who thinks that underneath the New Look lies Vivienne Westwood even though the seller is size 24, covered in tattoos of the names of her children and smoking a Lambert and Butler. A bleak stall selling some used fairy lights, a copy of How To Give Up Smoking By Allan Carr and some Next blue baby dungarees with their large optimistic prices attached is going to make me fly by to the stall next door where ‘here be treasure’ might lie in the guise of a bobbley yet cool top with skulls on.

And now here is a stall which has all the music I loved ten years ago and now I see it again I want it again even though I got rid of it and it is probably the same Cornershop promo I sold so many years ago. But at a carboot, surrounded by CD singles of people who won the Xfactor once, a Mudhoney album is so gloriously incongruous and exciting. Mind you, I am now so overexcited at being at a carboot in Scotland, that an ice-cream van nearly makes me pass out in the sheer delight of it all.

Of course there is nothing I want. That tends to spoil it, the gritty determination to find a magnetic cat flap, the knowledge of your living room being filled at that very moment with very naughty cats makes you feel guilt at lingering over a lava lamp. But treasure does indeed lie underneath. I am now the proud owner of a limited edition copy of Invaders Must Die by The Prodigy. It was three quid. And now every time I play it (not that I have as yet) it will make me think of that sunny spring morning surrounded by nature’s bounty and Clairol foot spas.

The surroundings are so glorious it almost feels mocking. The mountains, hills and fields rich with history and bloodshed beckon gently but you are in a field, yet not communing with nature, but bartering about neon hued plastic and mulling over a poster that proclaims that women love you and fish fear you and featuring a silhouette of a man playing a saxophone.