Writing group 1: White Elephant

Each year, at the school fair, it was Mrs Jones’ job to run the white elephant stall. Those three trestle tables were her pride and joy, covered in innumerable items of utter uselessness.
The planning for the table stared each year, exactly one week after the previous sale. The unsold items were carefully inspected for faults or flaws and either donated to the charity shop or carefully wrapped in newspaper and put in boxes up in the attic for the next year. The selection process was ruthless, items were given just two rounds to show their worth before being packed off to raise money for lesser causes than the school such as cats or cancer or something.
Next followed a whole ten and a half months of, as Mrs Jones fondly called it, the hunt. Endless rounds of:
   Just popping round for a cup of tea and a gossip.
   Yes of course you can have a homemade biscuit; I made them especially for you!
   That vase your mother in law gave you last Christmas, you are not really going to keep it are you? No word against that lovely woman but, bless her, her taste is not really what it was.
   Why don’t you let me do you a favour and take it off your hands, it will be a prize
piece for my White Elephant!
The last two words were always whispered, her voice portraying the excitement, accompanied by a wink of the eye and the eyebrow raised.
Whilst other, lesser stalls, such as soft toys or books had to advertise for donations, the White Elephant was smugly sitting on its carefully selected hoard.
After ever house was scoured, every bad gift quietly given away, it was time to start the delicate operation of pricing. Prices too high and the gold plated coronation egg cutter would never sell, prices too low and the lace edge guitar pick holder would be snapped up by some heathen with no respect for the delicate and intricate craftsmanship.
Mrs Jones could proudly say that her stall always had the largest takings for the day, Last year it outstripped Mrs Dib on the cake stand by over double the money!
The morning of the festivities always dawned bright and early. Rain would not dare dampen Mrs Jones’ parade. Crisp, white, perfectly ironed linen table clothes were draped over the tables, any wobbles or worries carefully sorted with neatly folded paper wedges. Each item was precisely arranged for maximum impact, each with its own hand written price tag, tasteful calligraphy on artisan paper. The table was constantly being rearranged throughout the day so that it never looked to over crowded or empty.
For five hours Mrs Jones stood behind her little kingdom. She would not allow herself a brake, it was her duty to make sure that every item was sold and more importantly, sold to the right person. Each customer always walked away with a warm contented feeling that they really needed that radiator decorator with the individual genuine rhinestones and at such a reasonable price!
   And what a nice lady that Mrs Jones is, I really must have a look round for something for her for next year, it is for the children you know.


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