I was up at 5:30am yesterday to have a look at the Tilmanstone boot fair. It was most disappointing. Nothing was on sale but a mountain of tat – mismatching crockery, obsolete electrojunk all covered in dust and set at ludicrous prices, broken tools, paperback novels so trashy I’d feel unwell using them in their next incarnation as toilet paper. The people selling were generally ugly. The people buying were a combination of low proles and dribble class scum. Many of them had those nasty, yapping dogs that are the size of cats. After two hours of looking for something remotely worth buying – four miles of walking up and down the same field – I shuffled back to the car and went home very crestfallen. What a waste of time that was. Even so, there were traffic jams on all the approach roads as buyers were trying to get in.
You can take a purely economic view of these proceedings. The markets for second-hand goods have been thoroughly disintermediated since about 2010. If you want to buy and sell, you go to E-Bay and Facebook and the other sites. There, you do business directly with other buyers and sellers – and there are some lush bargains to be had there: I buy most electrical goods from their previous owners. Boot fairs are now as obsolete as the old Exchange and Mart. On the other hand, if you want to see modern England in all its horrid squalor, make your way to the next boot fair. There, you will see forms once useful and even essential, now drained of content and given over to the promotion of trash by quite the wrong people.