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Sunday, 21 June 2009

If there is one thing in life that I truly hate, it's a car boot sale. Being on the grab a bargain side is fine but being the glum looking one behind the paste it table, is my idea of hell. Which is why I found myself wondering what on earth persuaded me that despite my better judgement, it would be a good idea.

Having roped in a friend whose car boot sale clutter has been in her loft for so long, her once stylish clothes would now befit the best Bay City Rollers fan - I agreed that 7.15am was a good time to leave. This may well be for normal people but I had to shift the possessions of four children, 25 tonnes of unwanted Christmas presents, a bench, 5 children and walk the Bitch before we could set out. It took until 1.30am to load the car and this does not take into account the week going through cupboards and driving around Wiltshire trying to find a friend that likes wallpaper sufficiently to own a table.

So I start my car booting with the first hate of the day, the flock of vultures that poke their heads into your car when you are trying to get everything out. Five children disappear at this point, I can't find the change and I realise that 5 decorating tables would be no match for my stuff. Everything turfed out and I have to sit through 5 relentless hours of:

'Will you take a £1' (Yet again, symbol problem on keyboard so no question marks today)

'But it is a vintage Cartier Watch'

'Right, how about 50p then'

Okay, so I exaggerate but you get the drift. Why do people feel that anything you sell in a car boot sale should be £1, no matter what it is. I was selling an almost unused Rotastak cage, original cost £49.99 and bedded in by the first inhabitant for a mere 24hours before escape and presumed death. I figured £15.00 seemed a fair and reasonable sum to ensure any hamster felt this wondrous space command centre a suitable abode.

'I don;t really want to spend more than £2.00' say's the first have a go robber.

'Sod off then' said I (Literary license - I only thought it)

People want something for nothing at car boots. There is nothing wrong with asking a fair price. You buy something, you use it a little and you charge a fair sum. They get something that they wouldn't want to buy new for a fraction of the cost and everyone should be happy, but they still moan. Perhaps the car boot is simply a reflection of the British attitude to life.

The man that eventually got the cage was delighted. Unsurprisingly so because in a moment with my back turned, middle child decided that since this man had said he only had £5.00 this was what he must have it for. I was not as delighted and even less so that a grown man would feel chuffed that he had clearly fleeced a 12 year old.

Still, life is all about balance and it was seemingly restored when the two little ones approached the stall holder opposite to enquire as to the cost of the battery operated and very annoying guitar and key board. Apparently one was £6 and the other £5 and feeling very chuffed, they counted out 8 very small brown coins. He didn't have the heart to refuse. On discovering their ruse - I dashed over in apology and offered the correct account but apparently being small and fluttering your eyelashes gets you far in life. I shall bear this in mind .

The strange thing is that I sold quite a lot. What makes it strange is that despite selling lots of things I only made £40.00. There could be a vague connection in the fact that I kept throwing the money in the car and the children kept insisting on going through the other side. This combined with a rather large collection of remote control cars and loud instruments might hold the key, but given that I didn't have the money in the first place, they have no idea where it is then I guess that really, I am no worse off and in fact have £40 in the holiday fund than I did before. The only thing I really lost was sleep and patience.

So the day ends with me feeling overwhelmed. The car is full of stuff, the house is a tip, the uniforms are in the dirty washing, the boys are dirty and tired and the Bitch was so bored she ate quite a large proportion of the house. In yet another moment of valiant rescue, fellow booter and Clarins supplier turns up at 8pm to tell me that she knew I would be overwhelmed, With that she unloaded my car, walked the Bitch with me and told me when she was a single mother of one child she frequently felt overwhelmed and that I was doing a sterling job. Granted she told me this in the garden as the words would not have rung true in the chaos that was indoors, but for a moment - I wanted to marry her.

This is the definition of a good friend. One where you make her get out of bed at some ungodly hour, you laugh hysterically at her clothes collection, you make her transport one of your children because the clutter in your car leaves you without space and then she turns up at your door to sort your mess out.

Today was of course Fathers Day. Calvin Coolidge, the US President from 1923 to 1929 recommended the day to the all male congress as a national holiday in 1924. He declared the purpose of Fathers Day was to :;impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations;

Yet the origins of the day go back to Washington in 1910 by a Mrs Sonora Smart Dodd in recognition of a father that had made sacrifices for his 6 children after the untimely death of his wife. This is perhaps more relevant now when more husbands find themselves fully involved in the upbringing of their children.

It is also interesting that in Divorce, it is the children's right to see the estranged partner and not the other way around that is the key. Children may well have the 'right' to see the father but there is nothing in law to make a father see the child and hence we have children in every corner of the country that would not have seen theirs today.

My children were amongst this band because their Daddy decided that going on holiday with the polyester clad shag was a far more appealing option than seeing them on either Fathers Day or his birthday.

Yet the essence of the courts is correct in its thinking and you can see how this can filter through to Fathers day. A parent should not have to demand to see his children on this day but the child should rightfully expect to be able to see their father if they so wish. The reality is that life is not as you expect and sometimes not as it should be. It is what it is. On the plus side I can add Fathers day, to Mothers Day (when he didn't suggest they call when he had them) and Christmas as events he is not bothered about.

Of course 'It' has told neither me or his children that he is on holiday with the PCS but has not allowed for the fact that I have always been extremely good at putting 2+2 together and coming up with 4.

"Where are you going" I asked

"What the f**** has it got to do with you." he replies.

Now I am no rocket scientist but a reaction like that will not arise from a boring old business trip and as the old adage decrees, defense is the best form of attack. It also proves the theory that many men foolishly assume women are stupid.

On Monday night there was a conversation with the little ones;

"I won;t see you for a few days" he say's

"I know Daddy, you are going on holiday" says small boy

"errrrr, well, I am going away"

"Where are you going" asks small boy

"errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I don't know." say IT

So clearly no business trip and no business trip, aggressive response and lies to small people guarantees a holiday with the Cul-De-Sac Barclays advisor. I feel almost sorry for him - he really did corner himself. He cannot possibly admit an illicit holiday since he already declared that he cannot afford to give the children money for a holiday and nor can he see them more often, as he is too busy working. On their half term - he simply was run too ragged. This must be a very demanding holiday since he has failed to phone them at all, which would have been fine had he told them that he would not be. He didn't

So you are back to expectation and slowly after time, your children stop expecting anything from you. They should have their rights but if those are not offered, then ultimately they will chose not exercise them.

It seems Nicholas Coleridges original intention has failed in a modern day society when life is about pursuit of self happiness and not obligation. An obligation as father is not all about money it is about fathering. The title is given, the respect is earned.

Mrs Dodd may have been right after all - Fathers day is indeed a day for fathers that make self sacrifices for the sake of their children.

Ironic that it was a woman that worked this out.

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