What Has Skin Cancer Got To Do With Car Boot Sales?


I love a bargain and am a regular visitor to charity shops, auctions, car boot sales, and when I can find them, pawn brokers.

You don’t see many of the latter these days, although, apparently in the current recession, more are opening up, and in areas where you’d least expect them.

The idea behind pawn broker shops is people can get instant cash for their treasured, more expensive items, but still have the opportunity to buy them back within a certain amount of time if they so choose …with interest!

For many it’s a way to tide them over a temporary financial glitch, but for others, it can be a heartbreaking decision as they know they may never own their cherished items again.

Not so, with charity shops, auctions and car boot sales, where people tend to part with items of less sentimental value, which are surplus to requirements. Usually, they’re just glad to get rid of them at whatever price.

I got hooked on bargain buying through my youngest son who has autism.

He loves videos, a common autistic trait, because one of the peculiarities about the disability is people with autism dislike change. When they watch videos, and more recently, DVD’s, no matter how often they view them, the story, the images and the sound effects remain constant. They know what to expect and it’s comforting.

Anyway, my son has a massive collection and if you’ve read my first book, I’m Not Naughty – I’m Autistic – Jodi’s Journey, you’ll know what a headache this has been in the past, and why, it was a relief when Woolworths closed. NO, I’m not going to tell you the (now) hilarious story, you’ll need to read the book.

That said, trawling around charity shops and car boot sales has saved me an absolute fortune over the years and more importantly, kept my autistic son incredibly happy.

On occasion, I’ve also been known to have a stall myself and once I got over the initial shock of having strangers pounce on me, rummaging in the boxes even before I’d set up the table, yet alone unpacked, I found it really fun.

I always sold a lot, but frequently came home with what appeared to be as much as I’d originally taken because I’d wander round the stalls and buy other “bargains”. One day, I even came home with a trailer!

Obviously, the best time to do a car boot sale is when the weather is nice, and preferably not too windy as your items get blown away, BUT I’ve seen numerous people burned to a frazzle because they thought it would be a good idea to wear skimpy clothes so they’d get a bit of a tan whilst they sat or stood behind their stalls.

What they failed to realize is they’d be standing behind those stalls for several hours, and if you don’t move, the sun has a nasty habit of burning you, especially on your shoulders, head, the tops of your ears and the back of your neck.

That’s why you hear the phrase, “Slip-Slap-Slop”,which refers to slipping on a tee-shirt, slapping on some sun screen and slopping on a wide brimmed hat. Men tend to be the worst. Maybe it’s a macho thing, I’ve no idea.

I wish I could tell you I’ve been sensible over the years regarding the sun, but I haven’t, and now I’m older, much wiser and in a position to pass on a bit of information to anyone who wants to listen. It’s your choice.

Recently, I’ve had several dubious “bits” either cut out, scraped off, or frozen off my skin, all the result of long term sun damage, and now have the scars and blemishes to prove it.

As a youngster, I spent every summer school holiday working on the land picking potatoes and onion wringing. I loved it. Apart from the fresh air and the weekly pay packet, I really enjoyed cycling backwards and forwards to the fields, the sandwiches eaten with dirty hands, and the lovely sun tan I always got. I never minded getting red because I knew I’d go brown eventually, and thought the redder I went, the browner I’d become.

Silly me!

As I grew older, I still didn’t realise the danger and I’d lay for hours on the grass, or the beach, coated in baby oil, carrot oil or coconut oil, frying under the heat of the mid day summer sun in my quest for a tan. Then, when summer was over, I’d spend more time on sun beds in one month than is now deemed safe in a year! No-one warned me.

A tan made me feel good, it still does, but back then there was little advice about sunbathing, or the need for sunscreens.

They weren’t readily available and anyway, surely, you only needed them when you went on holiday abroad didn’t you?

I was foolish, but knew no better. Now I’m paying the price. What I didn’t realise until far too late, is there’s no such thing as a safe tan.

Increasingly, there are more and more cases reported of skin cancer and surprisingly, many people don’t even realize the sun’s UV can be a factor. However, UVA, B and C rays can be very damaging.

UVA rays are ageing, UVB rays are burning and UVC rays are non specific, but on the positive side, the sun also provides us with the ability to produce natural vitamin D through our skin. This is vital for healthy bones, and also provides us with that feel good factor.

Wisely, the current recommendations as far as sunbathing is concerned, is to limit our exposure to 15 minute intervals and to apply sunscreens regularly. According to Cancer Research UK we should also use a minimum sun protection factor of 15 (SPF 15).

Anyway, the point of this article is to remind you, to “Slip-Slap-Slop” when you go to car boot sales, otherwise you could return with more than you bargained for.

Oh, and don’t forget to put sunscreen on your hands!

Take care.

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