Looking through her wardrobe was something Lucy found frustrating. That particular item of furniture had been given to her by her grandmother, and it probably dated back at least as far as the 1930s. It was made of sombre, dark wood and loomed tall over the diminutive Lucy. It had a narrow door in the middle with a mirror which was starting to lose its mirror-like qualities. The narrow door made access to the far corners of the wardrobe quite physically taxing, and the clothes rail was set quite high. Lucy got herself a plastic step which elevated her by about a foot and meant she could reach a bit better, but she sometimes joked that a good session sorting through her wardrobe required stout headgear, climbing equipment and a packed lunch.
None of this was made any easier by the fact that Lucy had lots and lots of clothes. Shopping for clothes was something which gave Lucy pleasure. Disposing of clothes she no longer wore was a chore she never seemed to get around to.
In order to avoid doing battle with the dreaded wardrobe too often Lucy bought an elegant coat stand, and got into the habit of ironing clothes for the coming week and hanging them on said coat stand. Woe betide if the weather changed unexpectedly and she had to go in search of alternative apparel.
Her friend Claire observed Lucy going ten rounds with the wardrobe one Saturday afternoon in search of something glamorous to wear that night.
“Whoa there, girl. You have way too much stuff crammed into that thing. You need to have a sort through, see what you can get rid of.”
“Yes, I know,” huffed Lucy as she extracted a posh frock from the far right. “But not this afternoon, eh? I’d like to have some energy left for tonight.”
In her heart of hearts, Lucy knew Claire was right. So she set to on Monday night, heaved everything out onto her bed and got ruthless. By bedtime she had a neat stack of boxes in the spare room and a much more manageable wardrobe.
She’d seen an advertisement in the library, and loaded up her car bright and early the following Sunday morning. Her destination was the car boot fair in the school grounds. Why not try to turn her spare clobber into cash?
Lucy was glad she’d pinned price tags on her clothes the night before, because as soon as she started laying out her wares on her mum’s wallpapering table she was besieged by grasping hands, early birds who liked to pick over the goods and get the best before anyone else. Lucy could see that a disorganised stallholder could easily lose out. Luckily her mum’s friend was a seasoned car booter and had given Lucy a few tips.
Lucy put up a second table and laid out various other things that had been cluttering up her flat: pictures she had grown tired of, items of kitchen equipment she had never used, still in its boxes, all sorts of stuff, all neatly labelled. And the pounds started rolling in.
“You’ve got some lovely stuff here,” commented one of her customers as she parted with a fiver for a flowery chiffon dress. Her customer was quite posh, with a plummy accent, hardly the sort of person Lucy had expected to find at a car boot fair. “Why on earth are you getting rid of such pretty clothes?” the woman enquired.
Lucy told the story of the ongoing battle with her wardrobe. She described its style and the problems it caused. The woman raised her eyebrows and looked interested.
“I don’t suppose you’d be interested in parting with the wardrobe, dear? Perhaps I could take a look at it. I’ve been looking for something like that for one of my bedrooms. Where do you live?
Lucy explained the location of her flat. Mrs Harmondsworth pressed a card into Lucy’s hand. “Give me a call tonight, and we can arrange a time for me to pop over.
By three o’clock Lucy decided to call it a day. She had very little left. A couple of pairs of shoes that she had expected to sell easily, but then again you could never tell. A lot of the kitchen stuff she had second thoughts about first thing this morning had gone like hot cakes. As her mum’s friend had said, there was no accounting for taste.
Back at home, Lucy counted her money and her eyes opened wide. Nearly a hundred pounds! Among the notes and coins she found Mrs Harmondsworth’s card, and gave her a call. Nothing like striking while the iron was hot.
Mrs Harmondsworth popped over the following evening.
“Hmm,” she said, running her hand over the dark wood. “Not bad, but a few bits of decorative trim have come off, and the mirror has seen better days. I’ll give you £45 for it.”
“Make it fifty and you’ve got a deal,” said Lucy. She felt she may as well push her luck. Mrs H had the look of money about her.
Mrs Harmondsworth didn’t even hesitate for a second. “Very well, young lady. You drive a hard bargain, but I like the cut of your jib.”
And so Lucy found herself with a pile of money, a pile of clothes and no wardrobe. The conclusion was academic. The following Saturday she took herself off to Ikea and bought a modern wardrobe almost big enough to set up home in. It was a masterpiece of modern design, with rails low enough to reach easily, and storage spaces for her shoes and other bits and pieces. She sat up in bed that night, dreamily admiring her purchase, and anticipating filling it with yet more clothes.
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015