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October 2018



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At the Jumble Sale

Posted by popular request. I love jumble sales but due to the rise of car boot sales and eBay, and the shocking cost of hiring a hall these days, there are fewer and fewer of them. I remember when I could go to at least one every month. Now it’s once a year and organised by the Scouts. The little boys are sweet, standing importantly behind the tables and so keen to sell and help.

Some people, in fact probably most people I know, say ‘Eeuw! How can you go to a jumble sale?’ They are thinking second-hand, thinking smelly and probably also being rather snobbish about the other people who go. I’m reminded of Tamzin’s mother in Wish for a Pony (1947). Tam wants to buy a pair of jodhpurs at a jumble sale. They cost 5/-, quite a lot in those days. Mrs Grey only agrees when she learns that the jodhs have come from ‘a good home’ and insists on dry-cleaning before her daughter is allowed to wear them.

I love the camaraderie of it all. The chatting in the queue, the general agreement that jumbles aren’t what they were, the heaving forward of the crowd as the doors open, then the dispersal as people head for their pet stalls. Bric-a-brac is always the most popular but I of course head straight for the books. Although folk are jammed up together they remain good humoured, agreeing to swap places as they make their way along the tables, looking out for things for each other. If you’re lucky someone behind the stall will have a good line in badinage and keep everyone laughing.

Yesterday I came away with such an enormous bag of books I could barely manage it. Sorry to disappoint but there were no great finds; my haul was mostly modern paperbacks in VG condition, just stuff to read by Joanna Trollope, John le Carré, Robert Goddard and so on. Oh, and a Harry Potter DVD. I got a nice Shirley Hughes to sell and a set of Norah Lofts to wonder about. Has anyone read the House Trilogy? I know some people love her and have always assumed that I wouldn’t.

Once I’d exhausted the book stall I squeezed my way around what was left. I’m always cheeky at the clothes stall, asking where the size eight designer clothes for ten pence have got to. It always gets results and this time I was offered an M & S top, new with tags. Win!


I love bargain M&S tops! What colour is yours?


Norah Lofts

I still have all three of the House trilogy books bought in August/September 1969. Although now yellow with age they have survived several book clear-outs and I did actually re-read them a couple of times. I'm sure if I read them again now I would still enjoy them - I'll just have to add them to the ever growing TBR pile to see.
Wee sister

Re: Norah Lofts

Perhaps I'll give them a try.
I think I manage to get to two local jumble sales a year but they are getting to be far and few between. The schools are usually a good bet near Christmas. I did get a couple of good hardback reference books last year.

You're doing well for bargains recently. An M&S top NWTs is definitely a win :)
I love a bargain! The decline of the jumble sale is a great shame IMO.
Most of my out-of-school clothes came from jumble sales - and my mother waged a constantly losing battle against the kind Mothers' Union members, who tried to set aside some of the best items for the Vicarage. I'm ashamed to say that I was often enlisted to choose and hide my preferences until my mother could be persuaded that sufficient time had elapsed for her to look at "things that might do for your girls"
I hope you got some nice things out of it!
Well, in those days, most people had to do a lot of making do and mending -
Let's say that "Mrs Gray"'s snobbishness was probably equalled by the hauteur on my part, about people who turned their noses up about serviceable clothing, and were silly enough to go without, rather than buy from jumble sales -
Afterthought - was Mrs Gray's concern about the original owner to do with cleanliness, or to do with the original owner laughing at Tamzin wearing them?
Mrs Grey was the vicar's wife and knew all about local poverty just after the war. Her concern was 'germs', I'm sure. She certainly wasn't a snob.
That's amusing, contrasted with my mother's concern that the Vicarage shouldn't be seen to take advantage of other people - "taking first pick"
Does that also mean that this particular Vicarage wasn't a depository for "jumble"? I'm thinking that someone who was worried about germs from wearing an item wouldn't be keen on receiving boxes of items.
Mind you, I'm in completely sympathy about washing anything I've bought secondhand before wearing, and so would my mother have been.


Norah Lofts - House trilogy

I read a novel by Norah Lofts many decades ago (Madselin, I think it was called) and recently bought The Town House, the first of the House trilogy. Since then it's been sitting on the shelf, I've been casting around for something good to read since finishing the wonderful Cazalet Chronitles (Elizabeth Jane Howard) and this might be just the thing! Thank you for bringing Norah Lofts to mind!
Margaret P

Re: Norah Lofts - House trilogy

I love the Cazalet books! What tempts me to the Norah Lofts after all these years of avoidance is the series factor; reading one and having the next to dive into.

Re: Norah Lofts - House trilogy

Me too, about both - I've still got the Cazalets - and almost everything else that EJH wrote - whereas the Lofts House trilogy went in the downsizing. I've often thought that might have been a mistake