Review: The Specific Melancholy of an Old Woman’s Bring and Buy Stall

pictured: a vicious cycle of senior citizens stocking up on bric-a-brac, bought from other senior citizens

What’s being tested?

The terrible aura of sadness and isolation created by the bring and buy stalls  -usually consisting of worn vhs tapes, carriage clocks and mail-away ceramic Tetley teabag mascots, among other things – of lady pensioners between the ages of 72 and 89, and the effects and practical applications of that sadness.

What we found


The melancholy created by the assembled unwanted items is powerful, but not inescapable. Refusing to acknowledge the seller unless purchasing (as per the usual car-boot or bring-and-buy browsing protocol) will only exacerbate the reach and potency of the sadness, as many older women simply sell for the social element involved. A nice chat about the weather and a big smile is very often preferable to a purchase in the opinion of the aged stallswom’n, and our testers found that doing that warbly whistle that old men do also helps. Being thought of as a nice young man or woman is more often than not the reward for such civility, which we found to be fantastic value, given that the unspeakable things this world often forces us to do in the name of survival often serve to distance us from the individuals we had wished we would become.

In fact, we found that buying from the Old Woman’s stall was a great way of helping her ease her own personal melancholy, as it allowed her to offload many of the relics from relationships she may have once enjoyed with, say, children, or other loved ones who no longer attempt to keep in touch. In that sense, you may be able to pick up a bargain on account of her lonliness, especially if you’re shopping for audio cassettes or worn Babysitter’s Club paperbacks.

Finally, we found that being aware of the melancholy was largely a good sign, as it reaffirmed the idea that you were not, on some level at least, a monster. We also found that this specific melancholy was largely preferable to the melancholy experienced when looking into a derelict side street shop with 1970’s fittings, at sunset on a Tuesday teatime, or the melancholy of the same high school anecdotes of a man who never enjoyed high school, ten years later.

 Cons:  We found that the specific melancholy experienced wasn’t, in itself, particularly lucrative. Unlike other famous melancholies, the melancholy of the Old Woman’s Bring and Buy stall could not, despite our best efforts, be effectively captured in an arty-but-sellable black and white photograph, or a consolatory ditty in a cheap greetings card celebrating an illness or a death.  Further to that, a few of our testers even felt that the awareness of the melancholy was not proof of sensitivity or compassion but rather a simple propensity to feeling uselessly sad about trivial things.

Our testers also found that the same powerful melancholy produced by the Old Woman’s assembled objects could be generated by objects in the individual’s possession, especially after the Bring-and-Buy experience. Poorly carved holiday nick-nacks bought by relatives that the individual cannot throw away or sell are significant examples of this, as they represent an intent to amuse on the part of the relative, and the slightly ham-fisted but endearing result of that intent, despite the object itself being a total eyesore.


On balance, we found that while the melancholy created by an elderly woman’s bric-a-brac stall had some interesting potential, it was something that was ultimately worth avoiding. Unfortunately, our testers posited that this was largely easier said than done, given that old woman desperate for cash now only have to create ebay profiles or appear on cheap daytime television programmes to be able to sell their depressing junk. Even in their traditional environment of the car boot sale, old lady car boots are very often undetectable right up until the point when you happen upon them, given that the old ladies generally drive small cars, and are also small themselves. Our recommendation is that you avoid church halls on a Saturday morning at all costs, and also attempt to cheer up a bit.


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