How to do a bootfair

I think bootfairs are uniquely British. They’re similar to flea markets but different. Everyone rocks up in their vehicles, puts out a rickety decorating table then flogs their unwanted stuff from their boot (trunk if you’re American).


So I wrote a little guide to bootfairs here:

  1. Clear out all your junk and think it looks like the best stuff ever. Mentally top up in your head the £200 you’re gonna make.
  2. Rope in someone unsuspecting friend, who has never done a bootfair so will be unjaded.
  3. Cram it all into your car with your decorating table and camping chairs. Get your float and price labels ready and feel smug at how organised you are.
  4. Get up at some ungodly hour on the most holy of lie in days, Sunday.
  5. Drive thanking the fact no one else mad enough to be up at this hour because a) you can’t see out any mirrors or windows and b) you can’t move the gear stick without everything falling and crushing your arm.
  6. Get there and feel much better that you’re not the only one insane enough to do this.
  7. Panic pull everything out the car and frantically set it up whilst the bootfair pros pull and poke your old belongings shouting ‘how much, how much’.
  8. Panic more because you left your float at home. Go through every pocket, purse and the  footwells of the car in search of change.
  9. Step back and survey your table and notice how your stuff now looks like the shittest stuff ever and realise you’re probably gonna make a fiver not £200.
  10. As people paw at your old stuff you feel slightly naked and like everyone is judging your life right now.
  11. Get really angry and defensive when someone haggles over your possession that is £6 and they want to pay £5 but you’re not budging. That waffle maker was £30 only 3 months ago (fuck you).
  12. Get bored and take a wander amongst the rows and rows of everyone else’s toot. Aisles of soup bowls and picture frames. Clothes wracks of plus sized sequins and every species of animal made of bone china.
  13. Spend your forgotten float at the burger van to break a twenty you had in your purse and sneakily get more change. Try to get something that costs nothing but that is so suspect it should come with a public warning. Its also probably safe to eat a ‘burger’ as a vegetarian because it’s never even seen a cow. 
  14. Return to someone haggling with your buddy over a 20p item. They want it for 15p and it’s 5 pence you difference you cheapskate.
  15. Have a little rush of sales and feel energised by the fact you’ve got up at 6am, broken your limbs hauling boxes and bags and sat for 5 hours in a field for £20. That’s £4 per hour pay and there’s two of you so it’s £2 per hour, illegal.
  16. Get all energetic and upsell everything to everyone and realise you’re the best market trader in the world. Make another tenner.
  17. Feel hard done by when they collect your £5 pitch fee
  18. Start to lose the will to live and stop chatting to people that come by, play on your phone feeling antisocial and refuse eye contact with everyone.
  19. Sink into dispear when you sell the waffle maker for £3 and realise you’re the mug 
  20. Start to panic that you’ll have to take half the shit back home again. 😱
  21. Realise there’s still an hour left and pray for a reason to leave. So you buy another coffee and eat into your £25 profit
  22. Battle with yourself not to buy the kitch picture on the stall opposite because you think will make your house all edgy and arty. You’ll only put it in the next bootfair, not sell it, and be stuck with it for life anyway.
  23. Sell a last few things for 20p because the thought of moving it again makes you feel sick.
  24. Start giving people stuff for free and feel like you’re the nicest person alive.
  25. Get so tired that you can’t cook so get Sunday lunch at a pub with your earnings and feel smug that it was free and oh well you got rid of a quarter of your junk.  

I secretly love a good car boot, if for nothing else the people watching. I also love seeing people’s stuff from their lives. I find them utterly exhausting for minimal return. But I like the idea that things are being reused and recycled, I can’t bear stuff going to the tip. Plus a they’re a great exercise in minimalising and deluttering and being able to afford a lunch out whilst on benefits.

What’s your best boot fair story or bargain?

The snap election that made me snap

On Tuesday I was driving to Bristol to see my sister and her family. On the way down came the news over the radio of a snap election. Oh no, more disappointment and strife. I know that’s dramatic but I’ve been so hopeful in recent elections, and the referendum, to then be squashed and let down. Me stuck in my echo chamber of disbelief that bounces around my nearest and dearest. I didn’t even dare to hope that this may bring a different outcome. I feel defeated, dejected and a little out of fight and it’s not even begun.

But as I listened to Theresa May’s speech about her reasons why she has made an election u-turn I found myself screaming at the radio. It wasn’t anything to do with the fact she’s gone back on her word about the election in general. I get it situations, tactics, and people change.

It wasn’t even the section that declared it was Westminster that was fractured, not the country, that made me snap. I mean that part did make my blood boil. After all it’s your job as a politician to be divided in views and options and to argue and debate these. Oh yeah and the country are clearly are all at odds, hence the split vote of Brexit.

The bit that made me completely snap was this:

“Our opponents believe that because the Government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.

“They are wrong.

“They under-estimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.”

Sorry, say what?! She is not prepared to endanger the security of working people?! So what, everyone else can be thrown into the sacrificial fire? Children, young people, students, retired, people with disabilities, unemployed and sick, terminally ill you can be endangered, have your security threatened and suffer to save the ‘working’.

To me a prime minister should be saying  I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of people across the country. Because that is the job of the Prime Minister; to be working for her nation. To serve the people and protect them, a nation as a whole, not just the ones you select.

I am fully aware she may have meant protecting people’s jobs when Brexit happens, but life is more than that. It’s people’s health, wellbeing, education, culture, families, freedom of expression, right to live. Brexit is about more than jobs.

I’m about to reveal a big shocker. Sometimes life isn’t black and white! Sometimes things just go wrong and the person that was working suddenly finds themselves in a different place to where they dreamed. I wonder if you have ever experienced that Teresa?

Please take a moment to step into my shoes. I followed the formula: I went to college then to university. I’ve always worked hard and above and beyond. I worked 50 hour weeks as a student and after I graduated. For years I dreamed of setting up my own arts company and worked in all sorts of jobs to make this happen. I’ve always paid tax and N.I. the whole way.

From 17 years old my mental and physical health began to play up. Despite this I carried on and tried to earn a living but always ended up in the renting and credit/ debt game. When I started to not cope and drown in symptoms these loans and debt and renting weighed me down further. I tried to live within my limits and keep on earning. I tried to reach for help to budget and dug myself out of holes. I never asked for help from anyone and being fiercely proud I did it all myself.

Inevitably when my health worsened I sunk. I blame myself for poor choices and being defiant by working in the arts. I blame myself for running a non for profit company to help others. I blame myself for getting ill and wonder if I just pulled my socks up I’d somehow manage to work.

The final rock in my pocket is your prejudice as a Prime Minister Mrs May. Your promise to protect working people leaves me out cold. It’s another albatross of guilt strung around my neck. It’s the nail in the coffin of my self-worth. I hide inside the house a lot, incase I’m showing I’m enjoying my life for not working. The reality is very different. The other day I visited a garden with a friend. I posted pictures of my adventures. What I chose not to post were the 4 hours I had to sleep to regain a little energy. The 3 days of back pain and mobility issue as payment for walking. The looks you get for not being at work when everyone else is. And most of all the boredom and frustration at not being able to have a choice.

Just before the election announcement I was visited by a Conservative Party campaigner. He arrived at the garden gate and stood for five minutes talking loudly on his mobile. I began to stumble trip down the garden to meet him and waited for him to finish his call. Eventually he did and he was pleasant enough. He asked me if I would vote Conservative in May’s local election. I told him bluntly that I never would. His response was ‘what if I said we would reduce your council tax, then would you vote for us?’ To me this was the catalyst to a rant. I politely explained back that I am currently in a system to which I’ve always paid tax and I’m being humiliated and let down. The lack of social housing means I face eviction, court, homelessness, living in a bed a breakfast and still may not get help. I spend hours filling out forms, exposing my entire soul-destroying medical history to strangers. My voice raised and my lip wobbled as I told him I’m doubted and tested and have to fight every corner to gain pretty much nothing. Funnily enough I don’t think we should be paying less council tax, but more to help and care for everyone’s security.

He looked shocked and said he ‘was sorry’ as he was already backing away. I know I may have fooled him as I’m not your typical ‘benefits scrounger’. I live in the countryside and I’m mostly well presented. I’m well-educated, intelligent and speak with a slightly posh accent. Maybe I was in disguise or maybe, just maybe, there isn’t a typical non worker. He couldn’t have got away from me quicker once I revealed my ‘not working’ card. What he should have done if wanting to talk to people face to face was stayed and listened. He could have reported back the faults in the system and cared enough to make a change to all people, not just those of certain income or social standing.

I get that people out there play the benefits system. I get that there needs to be a level of testing. But this does not mean all people who don’t work do this out of choice. I’d literally give my legs or right arm to be able to work (no pun intended). I would love to see my passion and skills put to good use, but I can’t. This has nearly destroyed me inside without the judgement of others from the outside. Save your council tax bribery and your tiny words of judgement.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but that one tiny word ‘working’ made me feel sick. Like I wasn’t worth looking after. Than I am a villain for claiming benefits and it makes me a burden; a cheat, a lower class of person. That cleverly placed word amongst all the others wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberately put there to make people fear and hate those not working.

Make sure when you judge someone for not working you know their story first, or even better? Just don’t judge.

Somedays

Somedays the world is an ugly place. I know this morning was not helped by the anxiety of returning to England and the early start. Maybe I wore the wrong eyes for viewing it? It was a catalogue of bad sights, smells and tastes.

It started with my bag (too heavy) and a very fast bus ride through Barcelona’s packed streets (the driver was a the love child of Jesus and Otto Mann). Add a dash of concrete pounding and avoiding last night’s dried vomit slicks (the pigeons were enjoying it). Finally to the bus,  despite there being 3 staff, they watched and tutted as both me and my sister (both disabled) couldn’t get my bags in. My hands, which shake all the time now, couldn’t grasp the thin paper ticket (don’t cry).

In the airport I waited by the mobility help kiosk (noted there are no chairs). I watched a man vomiting into a bin for 10 minutes before the cheery Xavi picked me up in a wheelchair (I always book ahead now for mobility and I always ask the name of the person assisting me). When you get assistance at airport you end up in all sorts of corridors and pens waiting, seeing behind the scenes. Once over the embarrassment ( I still get weirded out by crutches and wheelchairs) you get taken in buggies and strange contraptions to get you on the plane. You forget all the normal airport stuff but find yourself saying ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ a lot.

I watched amused as the people fight to get ahead in the plane queue. Almost slinking up the walls to get closer to the front. Then our gate changed and everyone made a mad dash across the concourse. The shoal was so choreographed any dancer in a ensemble would be envious. I trailed behind with the cabin crew, no rush, after all we’re all getting on exactly the same plane and our seats are already allocated. The dance continues as people who pay extra can get to the front of the same queue and other frantically sort through bags after bring too many or ones too large. The panic continues on the plane like a game of musical chairs. Last one seated is off,  I guess that’ll be me then (jokes).

Now travelling does something to my head, it makes me time travel to the past or future. I’m terrible at it. I fret and tremble recalling past pains. I nauseate over details of conversations not yet had. I caught myself in the moment of full anxiety (I’m good at catching thoughts by now). I realised what I was doing and I can only describe it as running down a dark alley with doors that open to the past and the future. You witness times of joy and pain and live events that haven’t happened yet (and probably never will). The alley narrows and it gets harder and harder to turn back. As you are squeezed between the ever narrowing walls you realise you’re stuck. It’s so tight and dark you can only see and believe what your brain is showing you. I held back the tears and swallowed the anger. I realised my brain was back in the place of no hope.

By the time I was in my plane seat I’d died a dozen times in my head. To write it down seems ridiculous. As I was drawn back into the real world again I became aware of a boy behind me. He was possibly 8 and making some curious noises. A sort of cry mixed with excitement then outbursts of ‘the plane is going to go. Suddenly the couple behind the family announced the wanted to be moved. This was loud enough for most of the plane to hear. Most people politely stayed looking at their phones but I’m not very good at that. I swivelled round to see a family with children of different ages. This boy clearly had learning difficulties and was anxious at flying. It came out of him in little bursts like he didn’t know whether this was a terrifying place or the most thrilling ride. He hadn’t done anything wrong, he just said out loud the feelings that we probably all were thinking. I watched as the boy’s mother turned in natural defence of her child. ‘Are you asking to move because of my son?’ she asked half vicious in defence and half shocked beyond belief. ‘Yes’ the couple announced to the plane, ‘we are moving because of your son.’ Every part of me wanted to jump in fierce and wild to stop the pain.

I bit my tongue and caught the mum’s eye, I offered her my row of seats in front away from the couple. The cabin crew swept in and expertly moved the couple away to the back of the plane. The mother burst in to tears. The cabin crew tried to placate them both by offering sweets and a ‘trip to the flight deck’. These frantic gestures were lost so they listened whilst the family explained that the couple had been discriminatory and said appalling things about their son. I felt for the mother in that moment, she had tried desperately to shield her child from the horrible hatred. She was in a state of pure panic. How could anyone do this just because the child made a sound or spoke in a way that is ‘abnormal’ (I personally found him a joy)? Later in the journey I turned and caught the mother’s eye. I wanted to say how appalled I was but just mouthed ‘are you ok?’. She whispered back a thank you and smiled. I didn’t want to save her, but just let her know she wasn’t alone and others were with her.

When you enter the world slightly outside of the normal realm you see how difficult and unforgiving the world can be. My sister has talked at length on her blog about grieving (it’s worth a read and is here ). Its not always about the death of a person but sometimes the death of something else, like your expectations or the life you thought you had. I know I have been experiencing extreme grief as part of my relationship breakdown. With this has come a whole lot more. I’ve experienced the death of my life as I know it. I am unable to work, looking at a future on benefits and no longer able to do all the things I once could. Auto Immune has irreparably robbed my life and I sometimes grieve for what I once had.

So forgive me if I get sad from time to time. I’m trying more than you know to keep my shit together. In amongst these moments I cling on to the small acts of kindness we are all capable of performing. Smile at a stranger or ask someones name, it costs nothing but a little bravery. None of us know what path the other is treading, what came before and is to come in the future. Maybe the couple who had asked to move had been anxious flyers or something else had happened that day. Their actions weren’t the best way of behaving, but we all make mistakes right?

I will continue to fight tis anxiety daemon, its not a linear journey and I’ll bounce around. I’ll also continue to to fight the prejudice and invisible illness in the best way I can, with compassion and kindness. I’m back to start all over again.

I saw this today, which says a lot of my ramblings far more succinctly.

Love, and kindness to you all with the most open of hearts.

fullsizerender

 

 

Never stop

 Today’s post is more of a diary entry. It’s a big test day to try to get back to some kind of normality and spend time on my own. It began with a sleep over at my dear friend Beth’s house where I was spoiled by having dinner cooked, playing with all the toys and coffee in bed! 

It was followed by a meeting at the council to get my benefits in place. Easy peasy, and followed up with a quick coffee and toast before returning home. I made a few candles for an order I have on. I was exhausted already so I napped and watched crap TV and tried the anxiety meds in the daytime. I usually take them at night to help me sleep so this was another test.

The next thing I knew I was woken up to Emma knocking on the door. She whisked me away to the next meeting with the community mental health team. A bit of a waste of time in terms of help and info but at least I know where it is! Plus I got to spend time with Emma in the car chatting (one of my favourite things).

So home again to a bath, dinner and more candles. I’ve started to read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Not sure what to think yet as its a lot about how fantastic the technique is but little about the actual doing, I love the idea of being ruthless though. Purge here I come. 


I’ve also been keeping a gratitude diary. The three things I’m grateful for today are:

  1. Friends as they have literally saved my life and continue to make me smile
  2. Duvets
  3. My cat ‘Little Bear’ who has been at my side all day