Reflection on the Car Boot Sale – an unedited stream of consciousness story by Maria

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The Amazing Pop Up Archives’ Storyteller Maria Whatton reflects on when we ‘popped up’ at the car boot sale on the Swadlincote/Measham border.

 

How beautiful the world is at 5 a.m. on a Sunday summer morning.

So quiet.

Warm.

Light.

The pit of my stomach churns at the early rise.

Porridge at 5.15 a.m. a gluey paste.

 

The Sat Nav keeps getting lost.

Unnamed Road it shouts.

Unnamed Road as it sends the car twisting down empty lanes

curling through green fields.

 

At 6.30 a.m. turning into the Car Boot

the world of the field is already as full as a city.

Stalls are crowded with colourful tat.

Buyers are purposeful, hungry, eager to buy bargains.

Sellers have spread yesterday’s usefulness on wallpaper tables

in the hope of turning it into today’s little wealth.

 

It’s 6.35 a.m. and the cars are bumper to bumper

snaking in, feeding their pitch cash to the man with the tin.

A colony of Car booters are on the march

mauling mugs, lego men and anti macassars.

 

Our purple and yellow stalls are up

thanks to the bravery of Paula, Wendy and Debi,

who slept in the field all night, sharing poo stories and attempting sleep.

We turn to each other with tired eyes and yawn:

“Are we not mad? Whose crazy idea was this anyway?”

Oh yes, we remember, it was ours.

 

Debi’s van is ready for me to sit and tell stories.

Dressed with tea cups and tea pots, silky cloths and simple stool.

I could kiss her. How thoughtful. It’s the perfect place to tell my tales: a sitting stage, with plastic chairs, a makeshift auditorium – open air.

 

It’s these details that turn the Pop Up Archive into a circus, a magic carpet, a cinema of creativity that brings the past to people out for the morning on a mission to spend a fiver or three.

We haul out the glass vitrines from the van, rolled scrolls of documents and mysterious death mask.

Karen has packed her snugly and with gentle care.

Unpacks her with a light touch, removing bubble wrap and tissue.

(Who was this young woman? Rich or poor? How did she die? Why was her face counterfeited in this way?).

 

A coffee run is immediate as we meet and check plans for the day.

7.30 a.m. and the temporary toilets are already daubed with car booters’ scat and frilled with emergency tissue. There’s nowhere to wash your hands.

 

I chat with Kristian and the lovely young girl with the long blonde hair

whose name I don’t catch because I’m also talking with her Dad and hearing about his map making days.

 

She helps me with the ghost story I have invented about Gresley Hall that houses details of historical facts.

We discuss the nature of the monastery. “Were they Cistercians?”

“Did they wear white?” I need to check.

It’s important for the story.

I sing a Latin hymn like a monk.

 

Soon there is a different music gently playing.

Julian squeezes notes into hamburger air and Debi joins him to dance through the lanes of tables stuffed with clutter. The Pied Pipers of Measham.

She’s wearing a dress clanking with bric a brac: an Aladdin’s lamp, pottery jugs, and leather slung drum.

They cause a delightful stir and are followed back to our pitch by two enchanted children.

Someone says she’s a nutter. They don’t like nutters and they wave her away.

But most people are tuned in to joy and are gladdened as she spins and twirls.

 

All morning Archivists and Artists collect folk’s stories and pin them to an ancient looking map.

The red thread laces together old needle factories, elasticated web emporiums, a Mothers’ anecdotes and hard won fields where grandchildren now play.

 

The death mask opens her eyes, while we are all so busy.

She steals a look at us and listens intently, smiling broadly to herself when no one is looking.

The Pop Up Archive” she whispers “thank you for giving me some fresh air away from my stuffy box. I remember going to market myself when I was alive, and you know what? People haven’t changed. Not a bit.”

Matt stands in front of our newly purchased gazebos wafting families our way

to hear a tale or write a tag or two.

He’s a calm and casual director of traffic in bright blue trousers and Fedora in case it’s sunny,

he’s never put off by a shake of the head.

Wendy and Paula disarm each new visitor and charm

stories from their tongues onto paper tags.

 

And all of a sudden 5 hours have past.

There’s a shift change.

Folk are beginning to drift away.

Patches of empty grass appear.

 

A Romanian family tell us their story.

A brother and sister say they like England and that people are nicer here than back home.

Their English is fluent. The little girl says she’d learnt most of it in 3 months.

They stay and listen to my traditional tales and say they’d like to tell them again in school on Monday.

 

They are the last. It’s time to pack up.

The hoards of bargain hunters are dispersing, replaced by thousands of small black flies that have turned our yellow gazebo into an inferno of dots.

“Gosh look at them!” I say to Matt.

“Yes, they are thunder flies and them landing like that, means there’ll be a storm in five hours time.”

“Is that true?” I ask.

“No” he replies “I just made it up.”

 

Heaving and hauling.

Rolling up of documents and maps and rugs.

The gazebos snap shut like

stiff umbrellas. It’s a team effort.

 

We just have time to listen to Matt’s poem

and join in the chorus.

I buy the chair he’s been sitting on for a tenner

even though I’ve got nowhere to put it at home.

It is a Car Boot after all.

You’ve got to buy something haven’t you?

I’ll sand it and polish it and make a cushion to hide the defects.

It will be my Pop Up throne.

 

The Next Pop Up event will be at the Gamesley Community Day on 2nd August – more details to follow.

 

 

Records and revelling at Ripley

At a loss to know what to do this weekend?  Why not join The Amazing Pop Up Archives team at the Ripley Music Festival on Saturday.

We’ll be ‘popping up’ with our wonderful yellow and purple tents  full of fascinating records relating to Ripley people and places.  Will you find your ancestors in the First World War Absent Voters list or in the survey of Butterley Company employees (did your ancestors live in a household without a bible? – yes, that was a question on the survey)?

From tales of the Pentrich Revolution and First World War there will be songs and happenings for all the family, so lots to see and take part in.  Make your mark on our map or add to our index cards – just one little snippet about you or your history is all it takes to become a permanent part of the record office collection.

We look forward to seeing you at Crossley Park  (DE5 3GT) from 1pm onwards this Saturday.

Finding the spark

Further reflections – Pop Up Evaluator Sara looks back over how we found answers to those who? what? and where? questions.

Finding the spark, choosing an ignition point, I guess that is one of the key points regarding inspiration. It is up to the Creative facilitators – our Agents of Wonder – to bring these extraordinary archives to life, however the team decides.

So, ideally four events, literally popping up at various places across the county, with a clear mission to draw people in, to engage people with and through the archive. Capturing a history, perhaps more accurately a set of histories of the county’s last 900 years, there really is something for everyone. The early documents may be a bit inaccessible, some are in Latin, and the handwriting is difficult to decipher but there is a real sense that if we can find the right venues, and develop the right strategies, it won’t be difficult to get people excited about the records. The archivist and researcher inspire us once again with their experienced-based interjections that confirm that sometimes the most interesting things are found in the gaps, in the questions that people bring.

The first event will be at Wirksworth Festival, a captive audience and another stunning venue, the vicarage lawn in the heart of this creative Market Town.

Our weekend event at Wirksworth Festival 2016 was a huge success.

The Car-Boot’s Guide to a Beautiful Bargain

Poet and Pop Up Team Agent of Wonder Matt Black shares his thoughts on our latest event which saw us Pop Up at a car boot sale in the Swadlincote/Measham area.

Matt Black reads his poem

The idea of the Pop Up Archives going to a car boot sale seemed so natural – as a car boot sale is itself a Record Office, a treasure – house of archives, a field full of objects each with their own unique and very personal histories. It was this idea that inspired me to think about writing this poem.

The Car-Boot’s Guide to a Beautiful Bargain

 

Cos it’s beautiful and true, in the car-boot near you

There are useful things that you can find, and other things will blow your mind

We go slowly, aisle by aisle, some of the DVDs make us smile

The Sound of Music, Take That, Top Gun, Fighting Fit Fighting Fat

there’s a thermal t-shirt such as you never knew existed

there’s a fish poacher you get home and wish that you’d resisted

smurfs and kermits and wrestling figures, Barbie dolls and dinosaurs

a teapot that was yesterday in my house, and tomorrow is in yours

everything here once was new in shops,

fashions through the decades, 1970’s glitter frocks

the pink junior rock guitar we bought Chelsea when she was four

2 tins of red paint Jane bought, that John refused to paint on the kitchen door

This old thirties walnut clock

Tick tock tick tocked for Nan and Grandad for forty years

Put into our Ford Mondeo’s boot last night, we couldn’t help some tears

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing –

Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain

And it only cost 50p.

 

It’s either come here or go to Church, and it takes care of Sunday morning

Knock off shampoo, knock off plugs, it’s kind of habit-forming

It’s pre-loved, recycled kitchen bedroom bathroom garden,

We’re British, we don’t haggle, we negotiate and get a bargain

Under a sunny cloudy scudding very Midlands sky

His rusty hammers, her pink wigs, their younger days flashing by,

All our children’s treasures, now they ‘ve grown and flown the nest

You’ve got to clear the garage, love, it looks a bloody mess

Biscuit tins full of Dinky cars you bought when you were 11

The Readers Digest Drivers Atlas of the British Isles 1967

Xmas presents for the kids, The Adventures of Binkle and Flip,

We could have taken a car-load down the local tip

But we chose to take a wiser, and a different route

Cos we like the eternal and the beautiful Car Boot

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing –

Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain

And it only cost 50p.

 

Teapots, teapots, wellie boots, the aisles are paved with good intentions

An exercise bike bought for a New Year’s resolution

Kept 6 months, given to Dave, kept in the shed and then he

Put the bike on E-Bay, and he didn’t even tell me

There’s mountain ranges of Jacqueline Wilson, heaps of Enid Blyton,

Uncle Bob’s Harrington Jacket wot he wore to watch the Who in Brighton,

Old Xmas presents, lego, 45s, floordrobes of taste and fashion,

Oo a chocolate fondue set for nights of naughty chocolate passion

There’s stuff to buy you didn’t know you wanted but suddenly you need

1 incomplete set of Top Trump cards, 1 Flymo lead

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing – Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain                             And it only cost 50p.

 

One of the amazing things about taking part in the Pop-Up sessions is being allowed to hear stories, and to be let into the special worlds and talents of people that we talk to. At the Car Boot I ended up sitting down and having a cup of tea with Mick, who runs the site. He  told me great stories, his talents as a magician, as a businessman, and then he told me that he also wrote poems. They just come, he said. He told me this poem by heart standing next to the tea and burger van where his son Matthew was serving tea and snacks. He said it took him about 15  minutes to write, which I was amazed by. Listening to him tell me this poem was a magical, unexpected and moving moment –

He wrote this poem for his son, Matthew.

 

Matthew’s poem

How I feel so tired

Sitting at my desk

My eyes are getting heavy

And I really need some rest

 

But there is work to do

And so little time

If only the days of my youth

Could once again be mine

 

Time was no problem

It just went on and on

How I spent my happy hours

In my search for fun

 

If only I could have known

That time would go so fast

And very soon these happy days

Would be lost within my past

 

But my life is like the seasons

And my winter days are short

And like a ship caught in a storm

I look for any port

 

A final place to rest my  bones

And live with my dream

Once again to run through the grass

Or paddle in a stream

 

To stand upon that distant hill

Without a single care

And feel the fingers of the wind

So gentle in my hair

 

But time and tide they both march on

No one can change the rule

I must forget the joys of youth

Today I’m starting school.

By Mick McCreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re going on a bargain hunt (sort of)

Roll up bright and early and join us at Measham Carboot where the Amazing Pop Up Archives project will be making it’s next appearance.  Below is a taster of the activities which will be happening – all alongside our glorious gazebos full of original documents to see and wonder at:

Here is what we’ll be up to:

8.30am – Keep a look out for ‘Lady Gatherer of the Car Boot Age’ hunting for treasures with Debi Hedderwick

9am – Talking Teapots and Hidden Stories with Matt Black and Debi Hedderwick

9.30am  -The Storyteller in the Van -Mysteries, ghosts and strange happenings. Come and listen, come and tell! With Maria Whatton

10.30am  – Keep a look out for ‘Lady Gatherer of the Car Boot Age’ hunting for treasures with Debi Hedderwick

11am -Talking Teapots and Hidden Stories with Matt Black and Debi Hedderwick

11.30 – The Storyteller in the Van -Mysteries, ghosts and strange happenings. Come and listen, come and tell! With Maria Whatton

12am – Poem of the day  “The Car Boot’s Guide to Beautiful Bargains” performed by Matt Black

Come along and say hello – we can guarantee that you will never have seen the like at a car boot sale!

A sense of open-ness and intrigue…..

Project Evaluator Dr Sara Giddens shares her first experience of The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project when the project team met back in June 2016.

So here we all are, gathered together in a hot sunny day in Matlock, at the Derbyshire Record Office (DRO). What stunning surroundings. The meeting room looks out over the hills and valley of this Market Town and is exquisitely furnished in wall-paper designed by Paula Moss in her former role as artist-in-residence. Paula is now here in the capacity of our co-host, with a DRO Archivist, Karen Millhouse. I take to the project and the project leaders immediately. The artists, although defined as creative facilitators for this project, archivists, lecturers and students are given time and space to listen to each other, to dwell for a while in their similarities and differences. No-one is rushed, there is a sense of open-ness and intrigue.

DRO Panorama1

I’m sure, like many of the others I am wondering what process might evolve?

The archivist Karen and project researcher Kate Henderson clearly know their stuff, they give off an air of considered confidence, with more than a little passion thrown in for good measure. There are 3 million items in their collection, where might we start?

 

We begin somewhat appropriately from a map, which we learn was also the inspiration for the colours used in the recent re-design of the interior of the record office. The poet Matt Black, one of the four lead creative facilitators, reads us his poem, written for the record office, inspired by a tiny detail in the map, a ladder propped up against a tree and his wonderings of who went up that ladder. He matches the archivist’s knowledge and passion with his own obvious mastery of his craft.

He is WONDERING, we are delighting in his wondering and before the close of the meeting, those on The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project team have been re-branded as Agents of Wonder.

A Taxing issue for Sir Nigel

Sir Nigel Bowyer Gresley (1753-1808) was similar to many a rich or powerful person in the modern era – he got into trouble with the Tax Man. In 1800, he was accused by the Board of Taxes of entering a false tax return for the year April 1798- April 1799.

The above tax return relates to a tax on male servants, horses, dogs and carriages. Now it seems very odd for servants to be listed almost as objects themselves who can be taxed. The tax covered only male servants deemed as ‘luxury’, such as gamekeepers and butlers.

Nigel Bowyer Gresley was accused of not including three or four servants on this tax return, including his butler of many years service. Despite his claims that these servants no longer lived or were employed at his ancestral home of Drakelowe Hall, he was found guilty. This meant he had to pay £50 per undisclosed item. The fine eventually amounted to around £250-300. Thankfully, his daughters, Wilmot Maria and Emma Sophia, appear to have been better with their money, as can be seen in their marriage settlements and further documents that show they brought up tithes for grain.

For more information on the court case for incorrect tax returns please visit the Derbyshire Record Office quoting the reference number D770/C/EZ/169-184. The marriage settlements are also to be found at the Record Office with the references D3155/7166 and D3155/7167. Estate and personal papers of Sir Nigel can also be found upon request. Alternatively, feel free to come and visit us at the Measham Car Boot (postcode DE12 7HA) on Sunday the 25th of June between 8 am and 1pm, where we will be ‘popping up’ with these and other items from the Record Office’s collections.

Danielle Burton, University of Derby Intern for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project.

The Record Agent turns Agent of Wonder!

Kate Henderson is the researcher on our “Pop Up” project. As one of the interns, I interviewed Kate to gain an understanding of how she got involved in the project.

After completing a history degree, Kate told me that she pursued a career in education and began teaching in several schools around Derbyshire. She took time out to have children and then completed a course in genealogy at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury. Once Kate completed this course she set up as a genealogist in Derbyshire, completing the majority of her research at the Record Office, where she has used their collections for thirty years.

Kate’s work led her to become part of a focus group at the Record Office, set up during the refurbishment of the office between 2011-2012, where she became involved with then Artist in Residence Paula and Archivist Karen, who both run the Pop Up Project. They worked with students of local Matlock school, Highfields, to establish how the interior of the building would look and how people might use it but also on how to encourage children to get involved with original material held at the Record Office. They realised that many people, particularly younger people, did not know a great deal about the Record Office, and so came up with an idea to take the archives out to the people. This is how the idea for “The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project” came about. Kate was asked to be involved in the project because of her wealth of knowledge and years of experience as a member of the public working with the collections.

Kate explains all in our Pop Up tent at the Wirksworth Festival

Kate’s focus on the project was to find original documents within the archive that had personal appeal. For the first event at Wirksworth, part of the Wirksworth Festival, Kate came up with the idea of using parish registers and apprenticeship records. A parish register, which dated from the 17th century, was chosen because she believed that people might recognise family names and therefore create a connection between the community and the original source material. By using apprenticeship records dating from 1806  Kate wanted children to be able to contrast their lives with those living in the nineteenth century and to help create a picture of Wirksworth during this period. The apprenticeship records provided information on the apprentices’ age, the name of parent, who their new master (or boss) was and what work they were involved in. This information helped the children who came to the event to link their lives with those of the apprentices who were of a similar age. Kate says “I loved the fact that these records were helping to involve people in relevant history of the area and was so pleased with the response from the community.”

Kate’s work on the project has been useful in helping to engage the community in gaining an interest in original historical sources. Hopefully these results can be mirrored in the upcoming events.

Jamie Rix, University of Derby Intern for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

Quitclaim: the Interns delight

Yesterday, whilst introducing our new ‘Pop up‘ project Interns Danielle & Kristian to the wonders of the store room, we got to see and hold a document, signed by Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, in 1551. Relinquishing her rights to particular land and property, this gem of a record wrapped in its own bespoke, hand made box, was an astonishing document to have held.

Our Wonderful Weekend at Wirksworth Festival

As part of the Amazing Pop Up Archive team I wanted to share a few images of our wonderful event. It may have started off rainy and drizzly, but the people came and the sun shone (eventually). It was lovely to hear the stories and memories from the people of Wirksworth and the visitors to the Wirksworth Festival- you are now part of the living Archive ! Thank you to the Festival team, as ever the buzz in the town was fantastic and we were proud to be part of it.