I sold my van. I didn't intend to do it; I mean I didn't go out with the intention of doing it. I knew there was no other action I could perform, short of sinking my narrowboat, that could cause me so much inconvenience. Somehow I happened to be in a place with my registration document in my hand and I sold my van. By the side of a Fenland road a small market had popped up. There was a craft stall owned by someone who specialised in recycling industrial materials into clothes. I met a couple of friends who had bought matching boots from the stall. The boots were mid-calf high and primarily made from stove pipe while the uppers were made from carpet wool that had been woven in square patches of pink, lime green and yellow. I'd never seen anything remotely like them and they looked so cool. Both friends were wearing leggings made from a metal the colour of tarnished copper into which had been woven a black line image of a rodeo cowboy's head, cowboy hat, neck scarf and all. I didn't take in the rest of their outfits, but I really wanted those boots and leggings. I was worried I would not be able to find the stall holder again, so I needed to strike now. I asked my friends if they minded if I copied their look and they told me they would be flattered. Unfortunately when I turned to look at the clothes on the stall I realised I didn't have the cash on me. Disappointed I moved on, but amazingly there was also a booth where vehicles were being bought for cash. I had no idea how much I would get for my van, but it would surely cover the cost of the boots, the leggings and leave me plenty to live on until I could source another vehicle.
There were forms to be filled in, papers to sign. Before I added my final signature I felt the first pangs of doubt. Being without my van was going to be a nuisance. For a start, how would I get home? We were, after all, in the middle of nowhere and whilst I also live in the middle of nowhere, it is a different nowhere. Other concerns began to nag me. How would I get to my lockup to collect instruments and p.a. for tonight's gig? How would I manage any of my work? There was still time to say that I had changed my mind, but there was an obstinate internal voice that insisted I had started this process and it would be dishonourable to pull out of the transaction now. There was another voice that said, "Do it. See what happens." All thoughts of the clothes had gone. I felt that I didn't want to be seen to renege on a deal, however much I risked losing. I saw my registration document stapled to the forms I had just filled out. The man behind the desk at the booth slid a receipt and my cash under the window that separated us. I didn't even know how much cash I was being given. It looked to be around a thousand pounds, less than half of what I had paid for the van. I couldn't bring myself to count the money in public, so I looked for the nearest gents. I sat on the seat in a cubicle and started to count, but counting it seemed pointless now, so I never found out how much the trade had been worth. I felt very sick. I could probably still go back and change my mind. There was surely some cooling-off period allowed for in the small print? At the same time I knew that it was equally likely that there was no backtracking possible. The men on the vehicle stall looked as though they were more than capable of persuading me that my transaction was final. I had an overwhelming impression that, despite the receipt in my hand, they would deny any knowledge that we had just had any dealings with each other. This is how I sold my van.