Yesterday’s blog was all about how giddy I got after visiting a certain department store named Harveys of Halifax. I promised to tell you how I managed to overcome the lustful consumerist excesses that I was tempted into whilst visiting their hallowed floors. So read on…
I hopped back onto the road back home and located the equivalent of what (for many) would be a cold shower. Or a shot in rehab. What exactly am I referring to here? Well. Some people call them ‘charity’ or ‘second hand’ stores … but my kids call them ‘treasure shops.’ And normally I utterly, one hundred per cent adore them. I would live in the damned things if the men in the white coats would let me. But this particular one happened to take the edge of my getting flash with the cash afternoon.
I entered the charity shop, based in a certain west Yorkshire village. I rooted about, poked and nosied around and then approached the till which was being manned by a woman who seemed to be in her late 70’s. Here is how the conversation went:
WOMAN ON TILL: Oooh you’ve got your arms full there, love. Let’s tot that up for you. (Counts items out). Oooh – have you got a budgie?
ME: Yes. (slightly defensively.) Why?
WOMAN: Because you’ve just bought ten little budgie toys here.
ME: Yes. I know.
WOMAN: And it’s funny isn’t it? Buying second hand budgie toys…
ME: I suppose some might think that… but – look (waving random tinkly ball thing at her) See? There’s no old budgie poo on it. I’ve checked all of them.
WOMAN: No, we always clean everything here. Doesn’t it bother you though? That it could have belonged to a dead budgie?
ME: Well, it must be dead. Surely. I mean – what kind of a rotten sod of an owner would give its little toys away….like… “Oh Chirpy! You’ve been such a bad boy headbutting your mirror every 5 seconds! I’m taking all of your toys down to the charity shop!” Haha. That would be really mean. Mind you – I do that with my own children actually – take their toys to the charity shop when they’re really naffing me off. or headbutting things. Haha!
WOMAN: No. (not getting it). No-one would do that to a live budgie. I was thinking more of Bird Flu. Although like I said – we do wash everything here. Still. I don’t suppose your budgie will know that they used to belong to a dead budgie. They aren’t like dogs. They probably can’t tell through scent, or whatever.
ME: Exactly. And if you think about it. I mean – I imagine that a lot of the clothes in this shop belonged….to people who are no longer with us. You know.
WOMAN: I suppose. Not really thought about it before. Funny though. You having a budgie. Right old fashioned pet that, isn’t it?
ME: Yeah. Everyone says that. But they’re very loving and chattier even than…. a husband can be. And you throw a blanket over them when they’re really annoying. You can’t do that to a fella, can you? Haha!
WOMAN: (looking at the next items). Oooh – and …. did you realise that these are actually cassette tapes, love? They’re not CDs you know.
ME: Yes. I always look for casettes. Was really chuffed when I spotted them.
WOMAN: I didn’t even know we had any in the shop! So – how are you going to get them to work?
ME: A tape recorder… We have three at home. Not counting the Walkman.
WOMAN: Really? I don’t know anyone still using tapes.
ME: We’ve got hundreds of them. Audiobooks mainly. But lots of 80s heavy metal and stuff like that. Even older actually. Beatles. Elvis… Actually – that’s the name of our budgie. Elvis.
WOMAN: (chuckles) Elvis? Now that’s very old fashioned too!
ME: (getting edgy now) Well, you know…they don’t write songs like they used to!
WOMAN: Yes. My dad always used to say that. He died fifty years ago now and…And oh my Lord! You’ve got a Black Beauty audiobook! When’s the last time that was on the TV eh? 1978 at a guess! Oooh – and a Last of the Summer Wine audiobook here!
ME: Well… we do live in Summer Wine territory. Nice to support out local economy and all of that.
WOMAN: (giggling) You know, I’m only laughing because I’ve never really found it to be very amusing. Last of the Summer Wine, I mean. Do you? I mean – does it make you laugh?
ME: I don’t … well. These tapes are for my daughter.
WOMAN: Your daughter? How old is she?
ME: She’s 10.
WOMAN: She’s 10? And she likes ‘Last of the Summer Wine?’ Next you’ll be telling me that she likes ‘Dad’s Army’ and ‘The Good Life’ …
ME: (frostily) She does.
WOMAN: Ha! Well, righteo-then. That’ll be £4.25. Thanks.
ME: Yeah, thanks. See you (heads for the door).
WOMAN: (calls out) Yes – have a lovely day! Enjoy playing with your budgie toys and listening to your old cassettes!
And so, dear chums – you will be relieved to hear that I was cured of my desire to SHOP. Whether in the brand spanking new classy sector, or in my usual comfort zone of the charidee shops.
Until later on, that is… when I found – in our bathroom rubbish bin – Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ (1986). Of course I knew who the culprit was. The 6 year old, who has developed a disturbing interest in the more soft-metal side of things (although I suspect he is rebelling against my own death metal tendencies.) The cassette looked pitiful. Tape all chewed out and a-dangling all over the show. I waved it at him; “I’m really cross about this! VERY cross! I’ve had this since I was a girl. I looked after it all these years and you’ve just ruined it and then chucked it in the bathroom bin without even telling me!” He explained that his tape recorder had “just pulled it out all by itself. I didn’t poke a pencil in it and try and put it all back together. Or anything.” At which point I sighed and said, “Oh well. Maybe it’s time we got with the 21st Century. Maybe I should stop getting you things from charity shops. I know. I’ll show you how to use CDs. Or maybe even an MP3 player or….” But I was interrupted by a howl of “Noooo! I love my tapes! CDs are too shiny and get scratched! Please don’t ever stop me going in the charity shop with you, Mummy!”
So, like all too many recovering addicts I am forced to blame my family for my relapse. Hampering my progress. So I’m off to smooth out the lovely pink satin bedspread I recently picked up at our local hospice charity shop and which my other half said “looks like something Joan Collins would have seen a bit of action on, back in the 70’s…”
But what would he know? The man has no taste.
(And he still hasn’t bonded with the budgie yet.)