Today I indulged in one of life’s great harmless pleasures.
I can’t be the only person who experiences a deep contentment upon surveying the offering on the bric-a-brac shelves to be found in every charity shop (at least, every one I’ve ever been in).
Today I could have taken my pick from a swirly sweet dish handmade in Israel, a box of patterned kitchen tiles, a bottle of strawberry-flavoured body lotion, a pack of playing cards… the list goes on. In fact, trying to remember those shelves now is like a downmarket version of the Generation Game – except that in a charity shop you really do stand an outside chance of finding a pair of sliding doors.
After weighing up the various items and cross-referencing with my purse I plumped for a cup. Of modest capacity, in two-tone orange; just the thing to sup a breakfast tea from. And only fifty pence. You can’t even buy a chocolate bar in WH Smiths for that now – and believe me, I’ve tried.
Aside from the obvious joy of ‘trousering a bargain’ (love that phrase), I also appreciate the guilt-free nature of these experiences. Yes, you’re giving money to a good cause – and often to a cause that you wouldn’t give to in any other way – but, equally importantly in my value spectrum, you’re not occasioning the wanton appropriation of the earth’s natural resources just to satisfy an urge to acquire. The stuff has already been made. Charity-shop purchases are resource-neutral, in my view.
And perhaps this is just a personal thing, but I also appreciate the optimism represented by the varied contents of the shelves. Who, for instance, will now find a use for a large floppy disk holder, with its defunct, petrifying, plastic dividers? Part of me thinks ‘no one’, but I like the fact that both the donor and the shop were prepared to give it a chance. Keeping things out of rubbish bins and landfill heaps is a noble endeavour.