When she was growing up, Callie loved watching Multi-Coloured Swap Shop on Saturday mornings. Noel and Keith and Maggie and John Craven were her heroes and she never missed a programme. Her favourite part was the Swaporama and she would cross her fingers and close her eyes, hoping each week Keith would visit her small town so she could visit and swap something. It didn’t really matter what, just something.
The outside broadcasts never came anywhere close to Callie’s home but she realized she didn’t really have anything worthwhile swapping anyway. So when she was grown up and asked to provide a stall at a Scout Fete with her two sons, a modern Swaporama stall seemed like the perfect solution.
The Fete was advertised on large multi-coloured posters, with Callie’s Swaporama listed as the main event running all day. She imagined children bringing exciting plastic toys and fluffy animals, noisy games and musical instruments to swap for something they really wanted to take away with them. She laminated cards showing ‘Offers’ and ‘Wants’, enough for 50 swaps to be underway at any time. At £2 to trade for each side, Callie hoped her stall would bring in hundreds of pounds towards buying new Scouting tents.
On the day Callie dressed in a special 1970s outfit she had hired for the event and set up her stall with a purple T-Rex stuffed toy on show for extra authenticity. Her first customers arrived within minutes and Callie handed over cards and thick marker pens to the eager swappers. There was a steady stream of completed cards and fees handed over and Callie passed them to her boys to post up around her stall.
Timothy tugged and tugged at his mother’s shirt until she eventually turned away from her customers to see what the problem was. He handed her a small pile of cards that hadn’t been fixed to the wall and said, ‘How should we sort these, Mum?’ Confused, she read them and saw items she had never anticipated would be listed.
“Offered: baby brother. Wants: baby sister, but not noisy and no pooey bums.”
“Offered: big sister. Wants: kitten, any sort.”
“Offered: answers to senior school exams, all years and subjects available. Wants: £25 per paper.”
“Offered: cricket bat. Wants: stun gun, suitable for concealment about the person.”
“Offered: videos/DVDs, undisclosed titles. Wants: videos/DVDs, imports preferred.”
“Offered: me and a lonely dad. Wants: a new mum, no special requirements except kind please.”
Callie wondered if Keith had ever had such trouble, whether she should contact the police or demand a cut into the deals and hoped with all her heart the final card swapper got their wish.