One of the things I enjoy when taking part in a craft fair is the opportunity for some serious people watching. Saturday was a particularly good day, we get them all around here.
Periodically ducking behind my table which has 2 print browsers and my greetings card racks arranged on it, surrounded by my display easels and stands adorned by my framed pictures, I become almost invisible to the public but with a great view of all who approach.
A sadly obese child of about 12 years old has found her way to my stall and with chubby face dimpled in concentration is having a good rummage through my prints. I smiled at her and she smiled back, probably a nice kid. Suddenly the usually pleasant hubbub of chattering and laughter associated with the craft fair is drowned out by an earsplitting tirade of pure Essex from about 2 tables along at the soft toy stall.
"Chelsea! CHELSEA!!!! Watchoo lookin' at dem pichers for! We don't want no more pichers do we!"
Poor Chelsea flinches slightly before turning to her mother and whining back "Aw Mum, I really like this one with the cat don't I. Can't I get it Mum?"
At this point I can feel the floor begin to tremble as Mum comes clumping along to take a look. She really is a sight to behold. Hugely magnificent in her sleeveless top which looks like it is about to explode under the pressure of her massive chest. Great sunburnt arms the backdrop for a display of undecipherable tattoos, bingo wings wobbling with every movement hang from gargantuan shoulders. Her face perhaps once quite attractive is now grossly swollen with fat, all blotchy and a purplish red in colour. I can't help thinking this woman appears to have been sculpted from a massive slab of corned beef! From beneath the rolls of fat at her midriff stick out legs to match the arms, encased in tight lycra leggings which stop short below the knee allowing a glimpse of ankles Michelin Man would be proud of, truly hideous. I've often wondered why the majority of obese women wear tights, almost as bad as fat blokes in cardigans..........
"We do'wanna spend all our money in 'ere Chelsea. We need to save some for our chips later"
I just have time to pass a business card with my website details on to the poor kid before her ogre of a mother takes her by the hand and, flicking a multi-coloured braided and beaded lock of her hair from her face stamps off toward the exit and no doubt in the direction of the nearby chip shop. Ah well, another sale missed.......mustn't get depressed.
I wonder about their life, probably on a visit up from Basildon or some other god-forsaken place. I'm sure there are kids a lot worse off. At least they've made the effort to get out but I felt sorry for Chelsea. What chance does she have with her life already well on the way to being ruined. Health under threat, self confidence shattered, budding interests quashed, probably dreaming of the day she get's her big chance on the X Factor.
Or perhaps the world she grows up in will be totally different to the health and fitness obsessed one that I did. Perhaps the 'fuller' figure will be the norm. Maybe it already is? Hmmmm. not too sure about that.......I'm not too slim myself nowadays but not ready to throw the towel in yet.
Of course I do meet some lovely people too at these craft fairs. Many other local artists stop by for a chat, and a lot of other people show great interest in my work. I like watching the elderly couples on a bit of a day out, running their critical eyes over a piece before discussing it in great detail. Ooooh! they can be harsh sometimes but it's all good feedback and I like a bit of banter. I usually make enough print and card sales to make it worth while, along with the very occasional original piece too. I make it my mission to point people in the direction of my website by handing out dozens of business cards and this can often pay dividends several weeks down the line.
All in all not a bad morning and home in time for a late lunch.
Pass the Ryvita love.