‘It’s better than you moping at home and ringing the office every few hours to check on the weekend staff.’ She pronounces curtly. She has a point, fussing over activity in my little kingdom is bad enough Monday-to-Friday. Telephoning a couple of disinterested middle-aged women for updates on a Sunday, borders on obsessive.
We reach the gate, where a ruddy-faced yokel in a Barbour and an absurd hunting hat with some sort of dead game bird’s tail-feather protruding from the top, like an avionic aerial, greets us with over-familiarity. Then fleeces me for eight quid.
‘Four pounds each just to get in.’ I grumble as we dodge drying cowpats and move towards the motley collection of lop-sided gazebos and wallpaper pasting tables. ‘I don’t suppose that’s a beer tent?’ I quiz optimistically, indicating a grass-stained marquee that lurks in the middle of the camp.
‘Tea and home made cake.’ I tell my wife morosely, when I spot the hand-drawn sign outside the sagging tent. But she’s already engaging with some crone in a tie-dye caftan who really should have stayed at Woodstock. And really could do with some botox rather than rubbing down every morning with Royal Jelly from her home-built beehive.
‘It’s an over-priced con.’ I hiss to my beloved, as the autumn of love purveyor attempts to flog her some gelatinous mix, supposed to prolong the experience of just surviving on this planet. ‘You should know about.’ Snipes my wife hurtfully. I decide not to enquire if the wrinkled Joan Bayez look-alike flogs honey-based Viagra substitutes.
‘Could I interest you in home made fudge poppet?’ Asks a plump farmer’s wife-type. Momentarily her novel 1970s confectionary product based sales pitch throws me. ‘Come on love,’ she entreats, clearly not recognising a very negative buying signal. ‘Everybody has a sweet tooth.’
‘That was rude.’ Reprimands my wife after I’ve refused to buy 100 grams of solidified sugar for £3.95. ‘She made a basic marketing error.’ I tell my wife as she visibly begins to lose interest. ‘People don’t like insincere terms of address. She could do with a sales training course.’
‘I never though I’d hear you say that.’ Responds my wife, head cocked on one side. Neither did I. I must be losing it.
We skirt past a demoralised looking man with a greying beard, absurd ponytail, and a product overtaken by time. Ditch the computer and play with a wonderful new toy. Pleads his rickety sign. He clearly doesn’t have any grandchildren, or he’d realise kids are not about to forsake Facebook for a crummy lathe-turned collection of wooden discs he knocked –up in his shed because nobody will give someone his age a real job.
Selling is an art form, I decide pompously, as another stallholder calls out amateurishly, with an introduction guaranteed to raise hackles in the professional. Like those door-to-door bible bashers, these embryonic entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking everyone is a full of the – non-pasteurised goats’- milk of human kindness.
‘Could I interest you in some double-glazing?’ Pleads a desperate young man in a shiny suit and skinny tie. That’s a closed question! I want to scream, but I just give him a curt ‘no,’ to help him frame the enquiry more carefully next time. The trailer he is manning, with wobbly UPVC frames balanced on the back is, like me, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then I meet the woman distributing flyers for a DIY Internet house sale outfit.
‘Unbelievable.’ I mutter as we head back for the car, homemade knitwear stall craftily avoided. ‘They all think it’s easy flogging houses.’
‘Hmm.’ Answers my wife, neutrally.
‘A pigging pole and an insert on a website nobody will ever find.’ I rage as my phone jangles ominously.
Tremulously, the weekend lady tells me a sale has fallen through and my blood sugar slumps even lower.
It’s too late to buy some fudge.