Monday, April 03, 2006

"Keep smiling" has been one of the catchcries of Classie Corner during its explorations into the marvellous community of classified advertising. Today’s post turns back the clock to 2002 and the subject of markets …
FORGET the "urban legends". Every market addict has a story. Mine dates from the 80s in Brisbane:
Killing time while waiting for another browser to clear the space in front of a record pile, I blissfully admire the fine pottery on display on the next stall.
The browser keeps browsing; I soak up the winter sun and let my gaze feast on the minutiae of finely shaped vases. Nice but expensive.
The records must be something special. The browse drags on; my wait continues and the tactile quality of expert craftwork invites my touch.
I caress the leaf-shaped handle of a rose vase that glints brightest in the sun and become enthralled in the minute brush strokes of the glaze. Mum might like that vase for her 50th wedding anniversary but I’d never be able to afford it.
A man still huddles beside me over the record albums; I gently lift the vase to view the design.
Suddenly, the peace is shattered. The vase and the handle part company before my eyes.
Delicate vase in pieces on muddy ground. A ceramic leaf is clenched between thumb and forefinger.
The angry stare of the stallholder meets my eyes. I gingerly pop the leaf-shaped handle on the table in front of me and instinctively apologise. "I’m sorry. The handle came off.’’
"Bloody bullshit" is the quick retort. "You dropped it. I saw you."
Me: "No, the handle came off."
Him: "You broke it; you’ll pay for it. Come on, pay for it."
Question: What can a bloke do?
Answer: Run.
Yes, dear readers, I bolt like one of Fagan’s boys, straight into the crowd, an angry voice behind me calling: "Stop him. He owes me money."
I reach the next row of stalls where my eyes comb the ground furtively looking for boxes of records to get me back in the market mood. There are none.
I am sweating and shaking. A frightening thought occurs. Whom is the most believable, the runner or the non-runner, the "thief" or the "victim"? People seem to be looking at me strangely.
They think I owe him money. Do I owe him money?
This question has never been resolved as, over the years, I have analysed my actions of that terrible day when I skulked back to the car and cringed in the passenger seat before the missus poked her head through the window and asked, "What happened to you?"
She has always thought I did the right thing. But if I get down to the Bonville Markets, I won’t, can’t pick up any vases.
The Bonville Markets come just four times a year and today, June 2, is the day. The local Lions club will again officiate at its fundraiser, promising the best of art, craft and fresh vegies among a few dozen stalls.
The Lions are yet to decide the beneficiary of their efforts this year but expect local causes will benefit again.
A market organiser said the local schools and the Lions Cord Blood Appeal, which helps leukaemia research, were among the beneficiaries last year.
The club has about 20 members, rating lowly on the Lions membership scale but giving the worldwide service movement an important presence in another north coast community.
Give a Lion a pat on the back at the Bonville Hall on market day. But don’t pat the pottery.

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