12 January 2017

Stuff

Down at the Oxfam shop where I work every Wednesday, you never know what sort of items will be donated. Anything and everything seems to come through our door. Citizens of south west Sheffield can be so generous. It is something that I find very heart-warming.

There's always stuff to sort through from designer clothes to chinaware, from maps to original paintings and from postage stamps to paperback books. Of course, shop volunteers are the first to see new donations. We are allowed to purchase items at exactly the same prices our customers would have to pay. All volunteer purchases have to be carefully logged with counter-signatures in a logbook.

In the two years I have worked in the shop, I have hardly bought anything for myself - just a few paperback books and a DVD of one of my favourite films - "Once Upon a Time in America". Other volunteers seem to buy things quite frequently but I have deliberately striven to curtail that temptation. I am there to work not to buy.

However, yesterday I gave in and bought not one but two items I noticed in the shop last week. One is a large hardback book from The Royal Geographical Society, called simply "Illustrated". It contains many fascinating pictures from the early years of travel photography, including the following picture which shows a tea bearer in Sichuan, China. He is carrying numerous "bricks" of tea from a hilly plantation. The photograph was taken in 1908.
The second item I bought is a plate that commemorates one of South Yorkshire's many coal mines. It existed for well over a hundred years, in a village three miles east of Sheffield. It closed soon after The Great Miners' Strike of 1984-85. Coal mining has a special place in my heart as my maternal grandfather and great-grandfathers were all coal miners. Now there are no mines left in South Yorkshire. No more shall our pit wheels turn or our claxons sound. The plate is a souvenir - to remember all those brave men who went down into the bowels of the earth and to honour the mining communities that were broken. Thank you Oxfam and thank you anonymous donors.

28 comments:

  1. Good on you for volunteering with Oxfam. Now don't beat yourself up about buying things there. The key is in the first part of your post. Anything and everything comes into the store.

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    1. Trouble is we already have far too much stuff in our house. It's full to bursting point.

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  2. Two worthwhile purchases. As I mentioned in an earlier comment of mine I've been doing a bit of a de-clutter here. I've taken two cartons to one of our local OP Shops...and I'm in the process of filling another box of goodies I no longer need possession of; I think I'll take this particular carton, when it has been filled, to the RSPCA shop this time.

    It's far better than throwing perfectly good things away...or letting them sit around gathering dust. No time to be sentimental; time to be firm and just do! However, there are some objects/possessions about which I am sentimental. Those items that mean something to me won't be part of the de-cluttering!

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    1. I seem to be adding to our clutter!

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  3. If I were working at the shop, I would probably end up buying half the stock of books myself! And then I'd need a bigger house so that I could have one room set up as my library... drifting off into a daydream now...

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    1. Are you at work Meike? Crack on young lady!

      I can't believe you would ever allow clutter into your minimalist designer apartment.

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  4. The plate will be worth something one day, maybe even now. Things like that seem to end up in op shops and garage sales just a little bit before they are highly prized

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    1. Perhaps it will Kylie. If you send me $250AUS you can have it. I'll even pay postage.

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  5. I love both purchases YP.
    These old photographs of China are fascinating. I have been three times to China - the last time was thirty years ago and out in remote villages (which I often went through by train) it was still possible to see sights not unlike this - heavily laden barrows, donkeys walking round and round wells drawing water, garden crops drying on house roofs. I suspect much of this has now disappeared.

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    1. In many ways, the world seems to have become a smaller place. As a small boy, I even recall seeing Dutch women in traditional dress by The Zuider Zee. I can't see that happening now - except at a folk museum.

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  6. Hope you find a nice place for both purchases. I'm sure the book is full of wonderful photos, things we won't be able to see nowadays.

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    1. Yes it is Beech. That's why I bought it.

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  7. If I wasn't so preoccupied with caring for my mother, I would volunteer in a charity shop and I love rummaging around in them s a customer too. You can find some amazing gems among other people's cast-offs.

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    1. That's true ADDY. I didn't know you were a carer. Is it just you or do you get significant help from others?

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    2. No, just me and I'm not officially a carer (ie don't get paid for it) but I have a 93-year-old mum with severe arthritis who cannot get about on her own and needs a lot doing. I'm an only child so it falls to me.

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    3. Arthritis is such a cruel condition isn't it? I applaud you for the love and the practical support you give your mother. It cannot be easy. You are a good woman and a good daughter ADDY.

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  8. I absolutely love looking through second-hand stores of any kind. I've even learned to not buy every cool thing I see ... hah

    But sometimes there are things that are worth it. I'd say you've found two of them. If you're worried about adding to clutter, use the old "one in, one out" idea to at least keep things at the same level :)

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    1. Shall I chuck out the TV and the washing machine or maybe some of my wife's coats? She's just gone to buy ANOTHER one!

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  9. Both terrific finds! Was the plate produced when the mine closed, or for an anniversary of its founding or closure, or some other event?

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    1. You would love that book Steve. A limited number of those plates were produced to mark the pit's closure. Very similar plates are connected with other lost collieries.

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  10. The guy in the photo didn't look very happy, did he? I wonder how much all those bricks of tea weighed.

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    1. A full load could weigh up to 317 pounds and he might have to walk 6 miles with it on his back along vile roads. Why not apply for such a job Jennifer? It would be very different from your current role!

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  11. Love rummaging through charity shops. I would definitely have bought that book if I'd seen it. I'm not keen on commemorative plates but I can understand why you wanted it.

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    1. I especially love charity/junk shops in foreign countries. In subtle ways they seem to speak of that country - like the archaeological evidence of a lost world. Did you visit any in Australia?

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    2. Yes indeed but I wasn't allow to buy anything - no room in the suitcases!

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    3. Filled with bottles of Jacob's Creek no doubt!

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  12. I'm a sucker for old photographs too. One of my favourites books on the shelf is the rather hefty 150 Years of Photo Journalism which might interest you.

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    1. Yes. That would interest me Mr P. I guess one day a copy will appear at Oxfam.

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