When my sister and I were quite young (I was six probably, and she would have been seven or eight) we spent a whole day making small saleable items out of paper and rubber bands and card and plasticine and sellotape, including very possibly some sculptures made entirely of sellotape, which were a speciality.

Then out in the garden we put up some tables and arranged on top of them all the things we’d made. By now there were dozens because many of them were variations on a theme and so didn’t need much time or effort to make in a good quantity, and some were very carefully made, and there were some things in groups and some things on their own, and then we put prices on all of them and called our parents down because there was a summer fête.

They wandered around this fete of ours and admired the handicrafts. And what they were doing, really, was browsing, because one by one they picked up the items we’d made and said variations on “Oh, this is nice, I’d like to buy this one please”. And they had to do this again and again, casually and as though every purchase were spontaneous, until there was nothing left. We beamed.

We asked them years later, when we’d come to our senses, how they could have put up with this. They said they wanted to encourage all our hard work, and they didn’t want to hurt our feelings, and anyway it was nice to see us being so inventive. I wonder if they sensed there was a degree of cynicism on our parts.

Because I think we did start off making the little bits and pieces just for fun, but after a while we realised we could actually SELL all this stuff, and that our parents would have to buy it because they’re our parents, and parents always have to love the things their children have made, and if they didn’t buy them all it would look like they didn’t love them, and by association, us. It couldn’t fail.

Advertisements