Refugees and Undesirables
Refugees and Undesirables
I remember one strange weekend. We cleared out the garage on Saturday, which involved going backwards and forwards to the local dump several times. What we did not throw away was set a-side for a car boot sale (typically English phenomenon methinks).
So we were up at the crack of dawn (6am) on Sunday to make our way to the car boot sale with all kinds of stuff that was just taking up space in the garage – old books, old PC games, old ornaments, old mirrors, 3 old lawn mowers (yes 3), etc, etc. You get the drift.
The sale was in a massive field in a place called Alderley Edge, which is very, very affluent. It was very popular and there were long queues on the very rich, expensive, extremely suburban street leading to the farm where the sale was being held. The local inhabitants must really have loved having those who clear their own garages (as opposed to paying someone to do it for them), and, the great unwashed, needy and desperate “parked” outside their mansions while queuing to get on the field so early on Sunday. Many a curtain was twitching, and, all security gates remained firmly shut.
We got there about 7.15 am and it was like being dropped into a refugee camp in some Asian former Soviet Republic. It looked a little like the illegal arms sale that James Bond ruffed up in Die Another Day. There were THOUSANDS of cars on this muddy field and all kinds of wares on display.
As well as people having a good clear out like ourselves, there were others selling knocked-off goods or counterfeits, semi-legal and illegal traders of all kinds. But, the buyers were mostly dirt poor. They mostly consisted of the inhabitants of Shameless (see earlier posting “Not Nice Place To Live”) who had bussed in (or stolen cars) looking for cheap stuff of quality. These were the unfortunate ones mixing with the dregs of society – skeletal blokes clearly stoned and hung over and the ugliest, most frightening women in the world.
They had bad skin, bad hair, bad makeup and bad attitudes and had squeezed rolls of fat into all different kinds of bad clothes. They stood there with cigarettes dangling from puffy lips and bad language spilling from their mouths as they pushed their ugly, obese and badly behaved kids around in buggies.
Apart from these, there were two distinct groups of asylum seekers – those from Eastern Europe (Kosovo and the like) with shaven heads (and that was the women) and earrings (the men) wearing shell-suits and other ripped off designer labels looking for cheap counterfeits. And, there were the dirt-poor Asian asylum seekers in their full regalia looking as if they had just escaped a Taleban death squad. The difference was that these people seemed to be desperate for things that they could use to work with (old tools, etc), or to better their life (an English dictionary, a toy for a child).
They were polite, despite having little English, respectful, and grateful for anything you could give them. But they were SO poor – they often could not even afford to buy things for 50p that were probably worth £20 to £30. You just felt like giving the stuff away to them. And so we did.
We left at 13.15, with just a few items left, feeling very grateful for our own very different lives. The things we brought back with us probably showed the difference in our existences – who needs PC games if you don’t own a PC; who needs a wine rack if you don’t drink or only drink cheap cider, sherry or vodka……