'Off the Peg' by Debbie Taggio

A grubby hand punches through the open window of my musty-smelling estate demanding money;  his arm hairs tickle my nose and my eye follows his pointed finger along a muddy track to a youth wearing an oversized radioactive green hi-viz gillet.  The youth beckons me onwards, stopping me with a Native American How, indicating my trading spot for the next four hours.

Mourning my Sunday paper lie-in, I unload a horde of essential-at-the-time junk onto the dewy grass and fight with the bent legs of my dad’s saggy pasting table to display my dusty bargains.  Professional car-booters rootle through my unwanted chattels with black-Friday style abandon, firing questions at me like a Guantanamo Bay interrogation:


'Designer bags?'



Yes, and I’ve put them in a special box along with the Faberge Egg over there, marked MUG.

‘How much for Alanis Morrisette, luv?’

‘CD’s? 50p.... luv.’  I say, getting the hang of the lingo.

Rummaging around in his jeans pocket he places a groinally heated coin into the palm of my hand which I throw like a burning ember into my cash tin.

A woman grinds the fabric of a Next suit my husband bought for a christening between her nicotine-stained fingers, sniffing the length of the trousers like a lover kissing a woman’s arm.

‘It’s only been worn once,’ I offer, '£3?'

'50p?  It's for my son, for court.   It might not fit and I don't want to take the risk.'

'£2? You can't get much for two quid these days.'

'Sorry luv, 50p's me limit, its the risk...'.

'Yes, you said. Fine.  Far be it from me to deny your son a decent outfit to wear in court.  What's he done?'

'Nothing luv, he's the brief!’


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