She was, presumably, a store mannequin for advertising stockings or tights. Well, half of one, anyway. She was leaning against a van at a vide-grenier, and like most mannequins and dolls she looked more than a little surreal; so I took a picture. That was when I noticed that her knickers were nailed on. 

Laughing, I told her owner that she reminded me of some of the girls I'd gone out with when I was a young man: their knickers appeared to have been nailed on too. He laughed and said, “She's got a sister” and pulled out another, in an even worse state, with quite a badly damaged knee. His daughter ran over to pose alongside her. So I took another picture, principally for the little girl's sake.

As a photograph, it's nothing. Not even a competent snapshot: the handle of the trolley gets in the way. It does however show the nails more clearly than the first shot. But the more you think about it, the stranger it gets. Nailed-on knickers are weird enough: why does a plaster half-mannequin need knickers at all, let alone ones that are nailed on? Were they nailed on so they wouldn't be stolen? How old was she (the half-mannequin, not the little girl)? How and why had she been rescued? Did the damage antedate her retirement, or had it come about since? Where had she been living? How big is the market in second-hand half-mannequins? If she found a buyer, what was her future fate? Would she be separated from her sister? Who has room for even one half-mannequin, let alone two?

Quite apart from all this, there's the little girl. We were all laughing, and she wanted to be a part of it. So she was. This is one of the wonderful things about vide-greniers. Children wander about, and nobody worries about them. The assumption is that the more adults there are around, the safer they are. Which is generally true. You can never fully protect children from the ill-intentioned, all the time. But I'd rather live in a society which is basically trusting than in one that is perpetually suspicious. Fortunately, I do. 

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Words and picture copyright (c) Roger Hicks 2018.