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The story behind ‘Car boot bargain changed my life.’

Sometimes a story comes into your head fully formed and it is a case of refining the mechanics. Other times, a series of unrelated incidents coalesce into a sum greater than their parts. Like rocks floating in space, exerting gravity on each other, smashing together to build something bigger. `Car boot bargain changed my life,’ is one of those planetary formation stories.

Two ideas came from real car boot incidents. In the first I was looking at some tools on a tarpaulin and got sidetracked by a woman’s chest as she knelt to rearrange her display. I thought I’d got away with it; then I heard my wife’s voice behind me. `You’d better buy them as you’ve admired them for so long.’ I was embarrassed at being caught out, so I asked the woman the price. She looked up and smiled. `I could see you wavering so I decided to may your mind up for you.’ She winked at my wife and they both laughed. My wife said, `if only it was as easy to control children.’ I paid for the tools and left them enjoying a sisterly conversation.

The other car boot incident occurred when I’d just bought some CD’s. A man behind me shouted `Stop selling my stuff.’ He barged past me up to the female stallholder. We onlookers learned he was her ex-partner and had walked out on his family. She’d carried out her threat to sell his junk if he didn’t start paying maintenance. The crowd gave him the evil eye, and he swore at us all before storming off.

The final element of the story came from a conversation I’d overheard in a pub. A bloke walked in and greeted a long-lost friend eating at an adjacent table. The bloke said how well he was looking and the diner beckoned him closer and said his good health was because of his new woman. In a stage whisper he said, `She’s fifteen years younger than me.’ I pretended not to hear and carried on reading my paper. After the diner alluded to their great sex life, the mate asked if there were any downsides to their relationship. The diner reeled off quite a list, but the one that stuck in my mind was, `When she is losing an argument, she calls me dad and starts acting like a kid.’

So, there you have it. Buying and selling. A low cut top. A divorce confrontation. A volatile relationship with a petulant younger woman. If you leave these random incidents floating in space long enough, maybe they will collide and form a story for you too.

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