My love of thrifting comes from my Parents. We would go out to markets and car boots most Sundays. Sometimes I was allowed a book, a tape or CD. Even now, when I go out looking for treasure in a charity shop or market I always slip a thought back to this particular day.
The mix-tape in the car was one of my Mums and I didn’t mind it because it was full of Motown signings. My Girl was my favourite, I loved the film and nothing could beat the Temptations singing it. It sounds cheesy but everyone in the car would sing to it too. It brings tears to my eyes even now because it just shows that my family was, for a time, happy.
Coming back from the car boot could be an anxious time. My Dad usually got us lost and it would end in an argument, ruining the Sunday and meaning that I had to walk on broken glass for the rest of the day so I didn’t cause more arguments with my moaning. He definitely jinxed the journey somehow, probably by wishing that we would get home alright. He didn’t forget the way this time… the car broke down. It broke down in the middle of nowhere. Outside this giant house.
It just stopped raining but it was still grey. I can see the house out of the rear seat window even now, it stood tall with curtains standing heavy at the windows. My Mum immediately turned the tape down, admist my shouts of ‘stop the tape, don’t turn it down or we’ll miss the good songs.’ I was glared at in the mirror before both of them stepped outside. I don’t know what was said but we didn’t have a mobile phone to phone anyone. This was 1999. My Mum pointed at the house and my Dad went inside.
My Dad was some time and he came back outside with an elderly man. By this time my Mum was back in the car and had had just about enough of me singing my head off to The Temptations even without the tape playing. She rolled down the window and this man spoke. He said that he hadn’t had a visitor for quite a while, since his wife had died a few months ago and he was sorry that now he had it was in bad circumstances. He brought biscuits out too, for the wait. Whilst this shut me up for a while, I could hear him tell my Dad about his wife. Eavesdropping through the window, he told him about how she died and how he missed seeing people but living out here, it was so difficult because he couldn’t drive anymore. He joked saying that it was our bad fortune but was good for him.
Soon the RAC truck got here and towed us home. My Dad rode in the truck and my Mum had to steer us. I didn’t mind, I could sit in the front seat and just enjoy the antics of the day. I could sense that my Mum didn’t want to sing this time. I remember as soon as the engine started, the intro to this song began with Jimmy Ruffin. The thing is, it shouldn’t have been this song. I knew the tape like the back of my hand and it should have been The Supremes – You can’t hurry love, but for whatever reasons, Jimmy began instead. I didn’t say anything but I thought it was magic. I still do. That a song about being broken hearted comes on after we had met a man suffering from heartbreak.
In all likelihood, my Mum pressed fast-forward instead of stop when I was shouting my head off earlier in the backseat. Nonetheless, it captured a moment because I don’t think I would have remembered it otherwise.
We drove by the house a few more times before I left home, it only changed the final time we passed – I must have been around 15. A For Sale sign went up. Whether the old man had lived for another 6 years or else, he was my first experience of the brokenhearted.