I love car boot sales.
English dictionaries generally define the car boot sale as “an event in a public place where people sell their unwanted possessions, often from the back of their cars.”
Yes, that’s correct. People empty their unwanted rubbish from their house, load it into the back of their cars, drive to a big field, where they pay to park, then sell the rubbish to people who flock to buy it. What could be more English?
The car boot sale originated in Canada and was brought to the UK by an English priest in the 1970s. He experienced a car boot sale whilst visiting North America and saw it as a great way to raise money for his church.
Since then the car boot sale has become a bit of an institution in the UK and, during the summer months, I like nothing better than wandering around car boot sales in search of poetic treasures.
Trawling the boot sales, I will uncover something providing an idea or prompt for a poem. An old magazine, an old picture, an overheard story detailing where a family heirloom originated, followed by the pain and sorrow in having to part with it.
On my last visit to one, a few weeks ago, I discovered a poetry book titled Poems of Pleasure by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an American author and poet. One of her most notable poems, Solitude, contained the famous lines, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”
The book was published in 1904 and considering the book’s focus, Poems of Pleasure, contains some joyful titles including Women and War, Pain’s Proof, and my favourite, Sleep and Death. An interesting concept of pleasure in early 20th Century America.
It was the contrast between the books title and content that hooked me and one English pound later it was part of my poetry collection.
There are similar types of sales in many countries outside the UK. If you get a chance it may be worth visiting one, especially if you are looking for some poetic inspiration.
Have you found any treasure at a sale or similar event that has inspired your poetry?
It would be great to hear about it.