Monday, 5 September 2011

No Income Tax, No V.A.T. No Money Back, No Guarantee

Regular readers may know that I have previously outed myself as an illicit car boot sale lover in these very pages.

Close friends now no longer return my calls and my family hang their heads in shame and close the curtains when I pop round for dinner. I am thinking of changing my name from Messiah to something that reeks a little less of disappointment.

I understand it takes a certain kind of bargain hunter to enjoy trolling through the reams of outdated clothes, knackered toys and sad looking utensils for the diamonds that lie within. I am proud to say that I consider myself the Indiana Jones of the car boot world. That ancient Roman treasure is only just a rickety stall away.

Whilst the car-boot world is an Aladdin’s Cave of undiscovered treasures I decided my horizons needed broadening and sought out pastures new. Last Bank Holiday I went to Brighton Racecourse Market situated high on a hill overlooking one of the less salubrious parts of my fine city.

The market at Brighton Racecourse is no car-boot sale. It is the kind of market that pops up every bank holiday on greens and public spaces the UK over comprising almost entirely of counterfeit clothes and electronics, fast food vans, meat raffles and assorted tat you would expect to see in an episode of Only Fools and Horses . It attracts pikeys like ants on a melted lolly.

I don't think I've ever seen so many sovereign rings, tattoos and aggressive dogs in one place...and that was just on the toddlers! (ba-boom tish). I like to people watch so the whole experience was manna from heaven. I felt a similar voyeurism when I visited the favelas in Rio.

It was interesting to note that the majority of the stall owners were Asian (Pakistani, Indian etc). The potential for shop lifters is high and stall-owners watch the throng like hawks. Stall after stall of fake Adidas, Nike, Fred Perry and Lyle Scott apparel hang from hooks or lay spread out over tables. There are followed by stalls of selling fake YSL, Prada and Armani handbags and glasses of varying degrees of quality. A recent Trading Standards bust has obviously done little to put the traders off.

In fact so sophisticated are the imitations it is hard to tell the fakes from the real thing. An example of this is the one stall selling fake Dr Dre Beats headphones. I was tempted by the buy-one-get-one-free offer of two headphones for £20. They normally sell for over £100 each

"How can you sell them so cheap" I asked with mock incredulity

"It's the last of the stock mate"

The sounded great and looked liked the real thing but I got hold of my senses and told myself that they were sure to fall apart with 5 minutes.

On my way out I ear-wigged on a conversation between one track suited battle-axe and her two bastard offspring who had agreed to buy a pair of Nike Air Max for £25. Not being very mobile in the brain department she attempted to do the haggling after the guy had put the shoes in a bag. The conversation went something like this

Stall holder: "There you go love"
Battleaxe: "Actually...I'll give you £22 for them"
SH: "I'm sorry the price is £25"
BA: "Alright...£23?"
SH:"The price is £25"

At this point the sons are mocking the mother's poor haggling ability and decide to step in.

Son: "(whispered aside to mother) Watch this. Excuse me mate are these shoes orf-fen-tic"
SH: "What do you mean?"
Son:"Are these fakes"
SH: "Yes"
Son "Ok"

It's good to know the art of haggling is alive and well.

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