“It all looks very straightforward,” I tell the Missus in an attempt to overcome her obvious scepticism. “You don’t even have to be there – they sell the stuff for you!”
In a desperate bid to shed some of the no longer needed baby clothes that are making the house look like a local branch of Mothercare, I have signed us up to take part in a nearly new sale organised by the National Childbirth Trust.
My sales pitch to the Missus – who thinks we don’t have time for this sort of thing in what is admittedly a very crowded weekend – is motivated partly by my eagerness to clear some room and partly by the hope that it will save me from being ordered to dispose of my rather substantial collection of old music magazines that are currently jostling for space with the baby clothes.
We duly spend every spare minute of Saturday and the whole of Sunday morning printing off labels from the NCT website, then – as per its rather draconian instructions – cutting them out, sticking them on to stiff card and finally filling in a detailed description of every item we’re trying to sell.
“You didn’t mention we have to do all this,” moans the Missus. “We’re basically doing their bloody job for them.”
“I know,” I say. “It makes you wonder how they can justify taking 35 per commission on everything.”
It is at this point I remember that I had purposely neglected to mention this particular point, knowing the Missus would hit the roof. Fortunately, at this precise point one of the twins wakes up and it doesn’t seem to register.
I transport our stuff to the sports centre where the sale is taking place and a woman directs me where to leave it. She points out that I haven’t put my seller number on both of my boxes, which we have been instructed to do. I write it on a couple of leftover bits of card and sellotape them on. The veteran nearly new sellers who are milling around look a bit embarrassed for me.
A few hours later I return to collect anything that hasn’t been sold but can’t find our stuff. For a moment my heart soars. Perhaps we’ve sold everything! All that printing, cutting out and form-filling was worth it after all!
Then I realise I’m looking in the wrong place and find both our boxes still looking suspiciously full. Taped to one box is a sign that reads ‘No Mangers!’ I don’t recall putting any mangers in there, thus breaking some obscure rule governing the sale of feeding troughs, so I ask a passing NCT person what it means. “No hangers,” she says. “We can’t put anything out for sale that isn’t on a hanger.”
“Oh,” I say, smiling weakly. I decide not to tell the Missus this on the grounds that it’s bound to be my fault for not reading the small print properly.
“How much did we sell then?” she asks excitedly when I arrive home.
“Er, one or two things I think,” I say, trying my best to sound upbeat in the face of crushing disappointment.
A few days later a cheque arrives from the NCT for the stuff we sold. Minus their 35 per cent cut, it’s for the grand total of £7.62.
Considering we spent a couple of hours putting everything together, it doesn’t even represent minimum wage. Given that I got lost on the way to the sale, it may not even cover the petrol.
“Next time we’ll just give the stuff to a charity shop,” says the Missus, shaking her head.
“I think that would be best,” I nod.