The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - 32
February 16, 2013
On Sunday, which turned wet and windy again, I spent my time making a list of things I could sell at the car boot sale. First I'd have to contact the people in charge and reserve a space for me. The trouble was that I had no idea who to contact.
Things to sell at car boot: six pictures from walls, chest of drawers, bedside cabinet, pots and pans, dishes (except for a plate and cup and saucepan and fry pan for me) including silverware, canisters, various cooking impements.
Things to sell or get rid of after house has been bought: bed, chest, bedside table, wardrobe, three piece suite, table and chairs, bookcase, four sets of curtains, toaster, kettle, card table, trunk.
I suddenly remembered that there was a councilor who lived locally, and whose
literature I had regularly through my door. I found one that I hadn't yet disposed of – and there was his name – Mr. C Wright – and from just up the road. I thought Sunday late morning might be a good time to call on him, so I did just that.
His house was on a different road but only a minute or two away from mine - a large posh bungalow. I rang his bell.
“Hello, can I help you?” said the lady of the house.
“I wondered if I could talk to Mr. Wright – the councilor.”
“He's not home at the moment. What's it about? People normally go to see him on his
surgery days at the library.”
“I just wanted to ask if he knew about who to contact about the car boot sales at Rose
Hill station. It sounded like he was involved in it from what I read in the Liberal news sheets.”
“But they don't open in the winter,” she said.
“When do they open?”
“I think the first one is the last Sunday of March.
“Do you know who I contact?”
“No, but it will be on the internet.”
“I don't have a computer.”
“Well, leave your phone number with me and I'll ask my husband to contact you with the details. What was your name?”
“Stan Barber. I don't have a phone, but I live in the bungalow on the corner of Oak
“The one that's being painted?”
“Yes. I did the painting.”
“Oh, that's nice.”
“Well, it's 16 Oak Lane. Maybe he could just put a note through my box if he finds out
who's in charge.”
“Yes, I think he would do that. Or you could always advertise small things on the post
office notice board. What is it that you have to sell?”
“Just bits and pieces from the house. The lady who owns it now wants me to get it
ready for selling. So she wants it to look emptier.”
“I'll tell my husband. Good luck to you, Mr. Barber.”
“Thank you Mrs. Wright. Bye.”
I was really annoyed about that. Just when I had things all organised to find out we were a month too early. There was a possibility that the house wouldn't sell until the end of March – so I might be able to sell the stuff I was saving till the end then – but it wouldn't help in the meantime. Maybe I could advertise that I was having a sale in my yard – but then what if the weather turned out miserable. You couldn't guarantee a fine day a few weeks in advance, that was for sure.
I popped across to Fred's house to tell him that the plans for Sunday were scratched. He seemed quite relieved. “Maybe we can do it at the end of March, if the house is still for sale.”
“Yeah, maybe, let me know closer to the time. I can't promise anything that much in
So back home again, I decided to write out a postcard sized list of what I had for sale
and take it along to the post office. I didn't know how much money to ask, so just said, "offers considered."
I spent the rest of Sunday cleaning up in the attic. Boy was that dirty – I had to
empty out the pail over and over. And all the mouse droppings and bits of paper made me feel sick. But in the end, it had to be done, so best get it over with.
While I was up there, I managed to get the trunk open again, and looked at the
stuff. Probably the Mills wouldn't want most of this stuff. Maybe they would ask me to describe it – and if they didn't want it, they might let me sell it. But everybody knows that silver, no matter how awful it looked, had a scrap value which was pretty high these days.
So I didn't think I could count on them being naive enough to fall for that. It made me laugh, thinking of all the effort I made getting rid of my fingerprints on the silver last time I had the trunk open.
Monday came and I had to go back to work on the painting. It went much faster than I
expected and I managed the second coat on the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, by the end of the day and still had paint to spare. So I decided that maybe on Tuesday I'd give the fence and gate a coat. It was only inside paint – but would do for an undercoat and I had enough gloss left to do a top coat, at least on the outside bits that would show most. I just had time to nip into town and take my notice into the post office.
“How many weeks do you want it in the window for? It costs 50 p per week.”
“How soon will it go up?”
“Probably not till the weekend – as the window is full of stuff now, and I have a pile
more to put in, but some of them will be coming down by then.”
“I'll say two weeks then.”
So I paid my £1 and felt relieved that I had one more thing to tick off my list of things
Wednesday was again quite pleasant weather. I needed to go to see the jewellery man and see if he had found the right amount and year of gold coins for me. I wasn't quite sure of what I was going to do if he called my bluff. There was another jewellery store in Marple, but they didn't advertise that they bought gold like this guy did. And I could hardly ask the librarian for free use of a computer again so that I could do my dealing from there. Then I thought of my new friend Fred. He had a computer in his house – I'd seen it when he was showing me around. I expected that he would let me use it – or do the necessary research for me. That made me more confident as I strolled into the town to keep my 2 o'clock appointment. I must remember that I had said my name was Smith.
Ringing the bell just on 2 o'clock, I was buzzed in. The same man who I had dealt with
before was there. I could almost see him wringing his hands with glee at the deal he was going to make with me.
“Hello, Mr. Smith,” he said. “How are you today?”
“Fine,” I replied.
“Do you still want to trade the gold bracelet for the bullion?”
“Yes, as long as the coins are what I asked for. Did you manage to get the right
He reached under the counter and drew out a bag and displayed the contents. There were certainly 21 sovereigns and 21 half-sovereigns. About half of them looked pretty good, but the rest were much more worn than my original coins. I went through them one by one – noting the date, and putting it in order so I could see if any years were missing. The ones that I considered to be under top quality by quite a bit, I turned upside down. When I'd finally finished, I turned to him and said, “The ones I've turned over are not very good – only worth scrap value, and a lot of the gold has worn off.”
“Well, I did my best. Most of them are very good as you can see.”
“Well, I think that if we do a trade, you should take my bracelet, but give me an
I had just picked that figure out of the air, not knowing at all how much he was trying
to get me down.
“No, no, Mr. Smith. You want these coins for a gift you say, and I have fulfilled
my part of the process. If you were to try to source them individually via Ebay, you would have to pay well over £4000 for them. Nobody is going to give you that for your bracelet – now that it has obviously been worn and has all those scratches on it. How did you get those on it, by the way? I have never seen anything quite like it from normal wear and tear.”
I ignored that question and said, bravely, “I have searched on my computer and
found a man who would give me all the top quality coins that I want for £3500.” So if you will just pay me for the bracelet, I'll go and contact him again now. £3750 was what you offered me before for it.”
“Now let's not be hasty,” he said. “How about if I take back your bracelet, and
give you £250?”
“Make it £400.”
“My top offer is £350.”
So the man took the bracelet from me, counted out £350 in 50 pound notes, and gave me the bag of coins.
“Pleasure to do business with you, Mr. Smith.” he said. “I hope your friend enjoys his birthday gift. I wonder just why those particular years were chosen, just out of interest, you know.”
“Oh, it's a bit complicated,” I said. “Thanks very much for your help,” I added
as I made my way out of the store. I was pretty sure that he'd got a good deal out of the negotiation – and I got £350. Maybe the Mills were getting different and less valuable coins than they would have done, but at least they were getting them. And in many ways, I was happier with my money than I was with the gold bracelet which I was always worried about losing. What I needed with the money was a phone. If I was going into the painting business, that was really an important thing to have.
So I took a bus to Stockport and found the T-Mobile shop. I decided not to get the top
of the line, and to get one that you bought a top up for rather than a monthly charge. Who knows how flush I'm going to be a few months down the line. I didn't want to be tied to anything like that. So I paid £49.99 (on sale with £20 off) and for that I got a camera,
email, radio, video – all sorts of extras. I put £20 into buying the first top up payment, and the clerk showed me how to work it. I was as pleased with that as I had ever been with my gold bracelet – and I felt that honour was satisfied.
When I got home, I found two letters again. I was pleased that now that I had my mobile, I could give the number out and not have to wait all the time for letters to come to and fro.
The first one was from Mrs. Mills,
So glad to get your letter and find out that you discovered the silver. I'm hoping
the gold is hiding around there someplace too.
As far as the Isle of Man pictures go, I trust you to handle the sale for me. I'll
of course give you a cut – say 20% - so it will be worth your while to get as much as you can for them.
Perhaps you could detail the silver items for me too, and then perhaps we could deal
with them in the same way – you selling them and taking 20%. I have no idea whether Marple has shops that deal in buying silver, but that would be an ideal solution if it works out for you.
If as you say, you are more or less ready for the house to go on the market, I will
contact the Marple agent, and perhaps you could ask your step-father to come and give a revised estimate of what it would be worth. Shall we say next week for the Marple agents to come around to view it?
The one from the Manx Museum was also much to my liking.
Dear Mr. Barber,
It would be most convenient for us to view the pictures this Saturday, as previously
planned. If you have had consent from the owner of the pictures for us to buy them, it would be very nice for us to take them there and then. If not, perhaps you could give us the contact details of the owner, and we will contact her directly.
If you could please phone me to let me know this arrangement still stands, I would
be very grateful. My number is on the letterhead.
Mr. Harold Weeks
Not wasting any time, I took out my new phone and rang him. I told him I had recently
acquired a phone, and gave him my number. And I said the owner had given me the discretion to sell the pictures to his colleague if we could come to a suitable price.
Then I rang Mrs. Mills. She was delighted that I'd found the gold, and I told her that
Marple had a dealer who bought both gold and silver, so if she wished me to, I would negotiate the best possible price from him. She told me to go ahead, and said how pleased she was that I was now available to be contacted by phone.
I told her that next week would be fine for sending around agents – and that I would
contact my step-dad and get him to give a quote next week too.
When Fred drove in that night, I rushed out to tell him that I couldn't promise to do
the painting for him next week, as the agents were coming to put the Mills house on the market.
“I don't mind if you do it in bits and pieces over the week. When you think you're
having a visitor, you can wait until after they've gone to come over.”
“Thanks, that would be great. And I've got a phone now – so I can advertise that
I can do painting around the area and see if there is any interest.”
“As long as you do mine first,” said Fred. “Make sure you charge enough.”
“What do you recommend?”
“You want to undercut the other painters, but still have it expensive enough that
it looks like you know what you're doing. Why don't you say £15 an hour when you talk to them, but don't put any price in your advert. If you start high, you can always come down a bit and still feel okay about the deal.”
So having written out a little advert for my services, I took it to the post office,
and asked them to put it in for two weeks. And I asked them to replace the ad that I had given them earlier in the week, with the new one I had written which now contained a phone number.