Trash And Treasure Is Never Treasure

We have all gone to the Trash And Treasure, flea market, retro market, bring and buy, parish jumble sale, or weekend market in our time. Some of us have picked up bargains – the rest have picked up garbage. The really fortunate ones have picked up a bacterial infection and vowed never to do it again.

It is a basic feature of human psychology – that desire for a good buy. If it can be a swingeing bargain or a criminal rort, so much the better. But it does lead us down some dark passageways of the soul:

a. We seek for these El Dorados of dreck in the worst places. Council car parks on Sunday morning when we otherwise we could be asleep in bed or awake in the arms of a lover. It is the unwashed bottom of the top of the morning – either cold and wet or hot and distressing, and we’re out there looking for bargain clothespegs? Sheesh…

b. We deal with people we would avoid under any other circumstances. To a man, or woman, they have the look of wolves fattened on babies. None of them love us, and we do not love them, and the emotions are entirely justified from either side.

c. We do not need what we seek. We do not seek what we need. It is all greed or grot.

d. Just as Quentin Crisp eventually had to admit that there was no great dark man, we must eventually admit that there is no great dark treasure to be found. We can’t even find Quentin Crisp.

e. We do need the money in our pocket that we think we do not need. Just today a letter arrived from the water supply racket telling me that the state government will remove a subsidy they used to give to old people to help them pay for water. The money will presumably be given to mining magnates or their bankers. I now need to save my money for water. I would like to make water on the state government…

f. The things discarded by others were discarded for a good reason. They are ugly, broken, useless, poisonous, sad, or superfluous. What they are for others they will be for us, but doubly so because we spend real money on them. And if we want to resell them we will have to return to the garbage sale and become the persons we bought it from to get even a pittance back. Do we really want to exchange our souls for that?

g. We can live without it. We lived without it until we arose this morning, and we can make it through to the evening without it.

h. No-one looks cool at a junk market. Sellers, buyers, pickpockets, etc…All have a patina of naff on them, that they could have avoided assuming by staying home and doing something useful.

Well, that should make Sunday morning a lot more fun. See you at the markets?

Cut-Price Serendipity

I am not given to mystical feelings or premonitions. I regularly stub my mind and toes in the dark, and most of my spirituality is kept in the liquor cabinet…But Saturday I must have known something good was afoot even in the midst of being frustrated.

Our local big shopping centre is a good one serving affluent suburbs and has the sort of up-market shops that cater to the entitled. Not quite as entitled as the older suburbs north of the river, but sufficiently up themselves to sometimes require a stepladder. I don’t mind the slightly higher prices as the mall is clean and smells nice. Plus it has underground parking with an escalator that debouches near the shops I patronise. Not, however, on the Saturday morning of a long weekend…it may have an underground but no chance of parking anywhere.

I dutifully did my round of the carpark aisles with my lights on to fend off the 4 WD tractors from the surrounding suburbs, and then had to give it up and drive away. Normally upset by this, I was quite calm about it and was prepared to drive a further 3 miles to the next shop likely to have the things I wanted.

Imagine my delight to discover that the second shop had not only parking, and the batteries I needed, but also a 50%-off carpark sale. Never let a chance pass you by. I found the last two kits of LED domed accessory lights that people use to jazz up their cars ( I use them to light up my miniature buildings. ) that normally sell for $ 19 being discounted to $ 2.50 each. Yes, thank you very much, and the next two or three dioramas thank you as well.

Had I got parking in the first place, I would have missed out. I shall try to be cheerful and philosophical in the future to see if it leads to equal success.

The Bookshop Of Broken Dreams

Book004 copy

Can you see James Dean in a wet overcoat drifting through the bookshop?

I got this impression one day as I idled away an hour or so waiting for a trade show to begin. I was in the central part of our city drifting from shopfront to shopfront – looking with great pleasure at all the things I was not compelled to possess. I was just congratulating myself that I own a pair of shoes already – the shoe shop window did that for me – when my eye caught a remainder bookstore on the second floor of an arcade.

I love these places. They are as good as the New York Book review in pointing out the best in literature – you look at what is sitting on the tables and then whatever is not sold there is actually, by default, good. In the case of this shop it was organised enough to categorise the books for sale into Non-desirable Fiction and Non-desirable Non-fiction. I think they had a section reserved for Gifts That Slightly Wound and Future Shelf Linings. To their credit, there was only one book that had been thrown out of a public library with its Dewey label still attached.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not dissing the entire affair, for I know that gems often lie buried in mud. This shop was no exception. I found a book that escaped me 7 years ago when I failed to pick it up in Melbourne. It was pristine, and may well have been the same copy. I am going to make the experiment of selecting the least salable of the books I see on my 2017 trip to Melbourne, mark it secretly on an interior page, and then wait to see if it lobs up in Forrest Chase. Stranger things have happened.

I daresay one sale would not have cheered up the man running the place – I can only hope that he is such an avid reader that he regards his stock as a gold mine of information, because if he hopes for fortune from it, he is going to get iron pyrites all the way. I’ll visit again soon…hopefully before the bailiff.