Sometimes, you might have a bad day at the office. If you work in an office, that is. The closest that Sarah and I get to an office is a computer in the middle of our living rooms, and even then you have to wade through a layer of lego to get to a keyboard. But the time we took our stall to a school fair in Clapham was the closest we’ve got yet to a bad day at the office. Call it a bad day in a windy field.
So far we had mostly been to events that had tuned out to be successful. Even if at some we hadn’t sold that much, we’d always met some lovely new people willing to give us loads of advice, or we’d got some email addresses of people who were interested in ordering from us. So it always felt like it was worth the effort of packing the car, setting up, standing and smiling for a few hours, repacking the car….etc. Until, that is, we went to this ‘Summer’ fair. It didn’t feel like summer. It had been raining for most of the day (the event started at 4.) About 2pm, as we were lashing a table to the top of Sarah’s car, the wind started getting really strong. To be honest, we assumed they’d cancel the event, and we were already saying how it was a real shame, what a pity for the school…(silly.) Of course they didn’t cancel. Determined people, in Clapham. Not to be put off by a mild storm, we turned up to find other stalls already set up along a nice little sheltered wall. Uh oh.
“We thought you’d be best here, under this tree!” chirped an impossibly cheery lady, ushering us to a lovely spot under a massive tree, (well, it would have been lovely, had it not already turned to a muddy puddle with twigs blowing all over the place.)
So, deciding that this was one of those situations in which to keep calm and carry on*, we assembled the table, and put the clothing rails together. We put the tablecloth on. It blew off. We found it, some way off, shook the grass off it and put it back on the table, weighed down by some t-shirts. The t-shirts blew away. The table fell over. We then tried hanging some clothes on the rails. The rails fell over. Some dresses fell in the mud. The tablecloth got caught in the tree.
Sarah went and asked the chirpy lady if we could borrow a gazebo, explaining that we were ‘having trouble’ setting up. Some parents were starting to arrive as we unpacked a brand new gazebo from its box. Sensing some damsels in distress, a helpful man bounded over and started hammering the pegs in. Gazebos aren’t usually that hard to put up, even for us, but in strong winds it did take us quite a while. More parents and children turned up; some staring took place.
And then, when the last peg was secured, we stood back and admired our Girl-guide-like skills. Sarah popped back to the car to put a box away; and the wind blew. A lot. The gazebo lifted right out of the ground, performed some aerobatics bit show-offy of the gazebo, frankly – before turning upside down, halfway up the tree. Sarah arrived back at our spot to find me pointing and gawping at it like a useless goldfish. And yet, weirdly, no one seemed to have noticed. We had to practically hang off the formerly-helpful man’s arm to get him to pay attention to our predicament. We had to fight the urge to just abandon the whole thing and do a runner. But once the alarm was finally raised, half of the PTA scrambled up a very old wall and managed to fish the mangled gazebo from the tree. Through now slightly hysterical laughter, we gasped phrases such as ‘totally buckled legs’, and ‘broken pegs,’ but it really was that kind of laughing where you can’t do anything sensible at all, you just have to howl it out until you get a stitch, or possibly until someone slaps you. No one slapped us.
Eventually, we got it together, threw our stuff into the car, shouted some apologies over the gale-force winds and made the fastest escape possible. “Come back for our pamper night event!!” shouted the cheery lady as we drove off. Oh, how we laughed. And then we went for cake and tea at Fancy and googled the cost of Gazebos.
*possibly now the most irritating phrase of all time. Oh, except ‘at the end of the day.’ Argh!