I have written about going to Newark Antique Fair in the past however this time around I’m giving my Father a helping hand as every so often he amasses enough stock to warrant recycling it back into the great swirling currency of old things and making himself enough money to go out and buy some more.
So right now I’m sitting in a white Ford Transit van that’s been packed fuller than a metro train during rush hour in Tokyo and one that has taken a significant hit at some point under one side of the body.
For us to even get to Newark we have to drive about 160 or so miles south from home but it’s mostly motorway work so we ranted about politics and general life and the time passed amiably enough. The thing about going to Newark to sell things rather than to just buy is that in order to set up shop and avoid the scrum at 7am (when the organisers fling open the gates and there’s a scene that resembles playing a rugby match with the All Blacks and something from Mad Max) you have to get there early.
Needless to say my Father decided to go maximum Dad Mode and here’s the view I have for the next 17 hours while we wait for something to happen.
The decision to get there with all that time to spare was non-negotiable.
Through bitter experience my Father knew that to have enough time to make a good show of it all you have to get there early and wait. It’s a good idea to bring along a (power)book and get on with something productive yet time consuming however we don’t own this van and I had no time to consider things like how to power various electronics before we left so I had a considerable wait on my hands. We chose to idle some of the time away by exploring the site (Newark is hosted on an old air field and evidence of this is scattered around) and cooking hot dogs. Below we can see a picture I took while wandering around, it’s a vast area but essentially surrounded by nothing but open fields and the entertainment value is as such.
The place has fences up all around and as we were wandering my Dad told me about the time he’d gone there to buy things with a couple of mates and while waiting in line to buy a ticket a shadowy bloke appeared on the inside of the fence and managed flog one of his mates a cheap ticket which turned out to be a phony, sending him into a bloodthirsty rage. Swearing revenge he had to pony up and pay again and once inside had to call off his personal manhunt as it was clearly hopeless.
On a side note we lifted up a random traffic cone and found the leftovers of what looks like an Ant colony…
Further up the old runway we saw that there’s a small golf course and driving range where I was delighted to while away several seconds collecting wayward balls that had managed to land absolutely nowhere near their intended target and end up under bushes and hedges. High on the prospect of a fortune in Slazenger golf balls we decided to retire to the van for the remainder of the evening.
So, after a night that my mother once described as “worse than giving birth” I was now able to fully empathise having shared the experience of trying to sleep in the front cabin of a Transit, which had now developed its own special waterboarding technique just for me. The original plan was for my Father and I to use the Two Man (untested) tent my mother had purchased especially for this occasion. Surely a couple of nights in a popup tent with thick enough foam mattresses would be doable… Sadly on inspection we discovered the claims of being ‘Two Man’ was greatly exaggerated as it was indeed one man at best. I decided to forgo my place in the tent and try the van out which at first seemed OK but after an hour or so turned into a claustrophobic nightmare punctuated by the shrieking of my foamy mattress who’s only feasible position in the cabin was jammed against the leather boot of the gear stick in the middle of the dashboard. Alas every tiny movement I made amplified the foam on faux-leather gearstick boot screams.
On the day of the sale I was up at 5:20 am and even though it was very early and I looked pretty grim I was elated to be out of my banshee’s coffin and have something to get on with as all this waiting around was boring.
Our setup on the first morning:
All manner of assorted items had sprung from the back of the van and assumed what we hoped would be the correct position with which to show off their best qualities. I even brought along a box of random retro bits I had no desire to hold onto any more.
I had high hopes for the ZX Spectrum but in the end I let it go for pennies as it turned out this machine (despite being in good condition) was the one cursed with a lack of memory and was therefore not that popular. I had thought someone might like it for a shelf piece so in the end I wasn’t too concerned about making a few quid on something I picked up for nothing in the first place. I sold the radios to a guy as a package deal after explaining I had five starving children to feed and there was no way was I going to cave in to his low-ball offers. I also managed to sell a Japanese Mino raincoat (the brown hairy looking thing in the first picture above) after I told a passing woman it would look lovely with her blouse.
One of the benefits of being second in command was that I was able to go for a walk around and look at the other things people had for sale. There are large indoor setups to browse:
Newark is always a great education and I spotted this shiny cone shaped device on a stall that belonged to some vague acquaintance of my Father.
…My best friend had acquired one of them some time ago and its use was a complete mystery, we had some thought that it had something to do with brewing and we ended up being nearly right as the cone thing is actually an Ale warmer at last the mystery is solved!
So the first day ended very well we had sold a good amount and made a good return. We decided to celebrate our achievements by having dinner at one of the on site restaurants and a pint of beer with a Sunday roast is one thing, but four pints of ale shortly before you’re supposed to be going back to try and sleep in the van is another…
We looked like this in the morning:
Protip: Never drink a load of beer before trying to sleep in a van next to your dad.
Sunrise at Newark Antique Fair
If you’re thinking that the picture above is somewhat empty looking you’re right. I learned that if people don’t do so well on the first day, or perhaps sell enough stuff to make their intended financial goal they just pack up and disappear in the night. This can be a bit of a problem as you’re not guaranteed to end up with anyone left beside you which is no good as people are less likely to want to walk over to somewhere miles from the general mass of remaining sellers. Thankfully our plot (007!) was close enough to the edge of where the main marquees are and lots of people were still around.
Most of our stuff was gone by this point and the remaining items were briefly for sale however as my Mother had kept reminding me via text message rain was due and about 4 hours or so into the morning I was wishing I hadn’t sold that Japanese Mino as I could really use it right now. Indeed the heavens opened and a torrent of rain forced us to hastily pack up our stall and curse the weather. When I mentioned earlier that the van had taken a knock at some point what I discovered was that when it started to rain and we had to rush to pack things up I put my pair of boots under the van to keep them dry however due to whichever sod previously bashing the thing the dent they made created an ideal channel for the rain running off the side of the van which I had now managed to place my boots directly under. Had I filmed the moment I could have had 250 quid from some crap version of you’ve been framed. Here we are looking like two drowned rats.
As the old saying goes, it is what it is.
As this is something that neither myself nor my father do for a living it’s possible to view the experience from a somewhat removed perspective as a lot of the people who come here do so to pay the bills and I don’t envy them their grim nomadic lifestyle, but personally I’d had a great time hanging out with my old man and wandering around looking at all the stuff.
We packed up the van and finding its braking capacity to be greatly improved due to the lighter load we headed ever north back home where I was glad to be back with my family and able to get directly into the shower as I felt that I smelled like a hamster.