Old Cars and Ugly Farmers – August 1924

One day I had the pleasure of looking round a rural auction mart that may not be characteristic of Sussex as it seemed unique in its way. It was held in a small rectangular piece of ground at a forked highway a mile or so beyond the village but, need I add, close to an inn.

The chief objects for sale are poultry and eggs. It is in the heart of the poultry fattening district and was started a few years ago by an enterprising auctioneer who thought it might be profitable to himself to bring sellers and buyers together to this railway district and it has apparently proved profitable to all parties.

Millie and I had a walk past the rows of vehicles, including motor cycles, whose side cars were evidently used to convey crates. I was reminded of it in the early days when the first farmer of our acquaintance purchased a Ford and it was not long till he had a calf in the back seat going to market.  We have got used to that now and are never surprised at anything we see in a farmer’s car. If we cannot afford two he must make use of the one he has got.

More interesting than the variety of cars was the motley collection of human beings most of them in unconventional attire. Apparently anything would do. Such a collection of rummage stall hats and boots — suited for Sussex clay. The men interested me most. The standard of ugliness they reached was quite extraordinary.

Every variety of antique whiskers was there on view — the pushy, grizzled whisker covering the face up to the eyes, the long whisker sweeping the chest, the French whisker outlining the lower part of the face —– an old, old man in a genuine white smock and moleskin trousers had a white leg beard that would have made an artist’s studio door swing open of its own accord.

But it was the mutton chop whiskers which fascinated me most, so studied was the dream. If you want anything, old world and remade from the 20th century come to rural Sussex.

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