After spending several hours cataloguing records and discovering a wealth of music that I didn’t even know existed, I have started the long process of trying to shift them all off my sideboard and into a record shop.  If I can make £50 while I am at it, so much the better.  I have been in touch with several records stores and so far no luck.  The one thing that used record shops have in common is pure unadulterated snobbery.  They have very specific ideas of what they want, and even more specific ideas of what they don’t want.  I have now started including in my introduction letter that If they think these records aren’t worth anything then to just let me know so that I don’t actually have to go to the trouble of putting them on ebay.  I have sold stuff on ebay before with varying degrees of success.   The thing about it is that it is difficult to navigate, very time consuming, and often fruitless.  Add to this the fact that records actually weigh a tonne and so I do not relish packing them up and lugging them to the post office to send to Joe Record Collector in Leeds. (Although if you are interested Joe, please message me, I am sure we can work something out).

So I sent a list of the classical music to a posh – well the website looked a bit up itself – classical music website.  They told me to send a list.  Later that day I got an email saying:

“Nothing below is of interest.”  Aah, there’s nothing like a warm and effusive answer.

Next I sent the longer list to another company who almost screamed at me when I mentioned classical records. 

“We absolutely do not want any classical music.  It’s not our thing.”

“Ok, ok, I didn’t mean to insult anyone by insinuating that they may occasionally enjoy music without lyrics, I’ll just send you the lists of the other stuff.”

I sent the email and went off to do today’s activity which involved taking my Dad to the hospital for cataract surgery.

When I got back from that 6 hour extravaganza, there was a message from the record shop. 

“Nothing of interest here I’m afraid.  There are one or two we could be interested in.  Is Two Virgins Stereo or mono?”

I went and found the album.  Nowhere on the sleeve or the record does it say.  I answered to this effect and fully expect them to answer me with some kind of ‘Duh! Did you look here?’ response.  Two Virgins, for those of you who don’t know, (and I didn’t until I saw the album) is a John Lennon and Yoko Ono album the cover of which has them standing holding hands.  Naked.  No big deal nowadays (see my earlier remarks about Rihanna) but in May 1968,  it was so shocking that it was actually sold in a paper bag.  When I was cataloguing the records, I was looking at the back of the album and John and Yoko are standing there hand in hand, backs to the camera, looking over their shoulders at the camera, wearing nothing but John’s glasses.  (I think it would have been better if they were wearing socks or something equally embarrassing, but there you go, they were the artists, they had their own ideas).  When I flipped the album over to get the name of it, I got a shock.  Because the front of the album is John and Yoko holding hands wearing nothing but his glasses and a necklace.  I was shocked firstly because I was not expecting any further nudity and the concept went from slightly naughty to welcome-to-our-bedroom very quickly. (What?!  I was cataloguing records, not surfing the internet for porn!  I wasn’t ready!)  Another reason for my shock is that although we have become de-sensitised to female nudity, and it is no longer considered risqué at all, male nudity, and certainly full frontal, is still quite rare.  But I think that the thing that surprised me most was that this was a picture of real nudity.  No air-brushing, no photoshop.  John Lennon doesn’t have a six pack, Yoko has pubic hair and natural breasts.  This is what makes the photograph so intimate.  It really is welcome-to-our-bedroom, rather than we-are-international-music-stars-who-would-like-you-to-believe-that-we-have-perfect-and-flawless-bodies. They are looking directly into the camera, smiling slightly and it is a real picture.

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  I understand that now with Instagram and twitter it is the norm to have to tag pictures which are not tampered with – #nofilter-  which I think shows a sad but undeniable truth, we are no longer happy with how things are.  We want them to be how we think they should be.  Or, worse still, how we think other people think they should be.  When did that happen?  Who decided?  And – more to the point – why didn’t they send a memo?  We could have prepared ourselves. 

I was talking to a (younger) friend the other day who said she missed the days when she could go out with her friends, have a good time, and come home and remember that evening as a very pleasant one for many years to come.  Now, she is constantly worrying about what her friends are posting on facebook, if the pictures of her are ok.  She told me that sometimes she comes back from an evening having had a wonderful time, and when the pictures go up, it can sour the whole experience for her.  How upsetting is that?  Having a wonderful time, only to realise that your knees looked knobbly in all the photos.  It is too depressing to think about.  I am of the generation where I often go out and there are no photographs taken at all.  Maybe we aren’t an attractive enough crowd, but I don’t think that’s it.  We are the last generation who ever had to wait for a photo.  When I was at university, we used to take photos at parties, and leave 2 or 3 pictures on the film, and then six to eight months later finally take pictures of our laundry or the cat to finish the film and then take it to Snappy snaps (or Boots) and three or five days later (who had the money for 1 hour processing whilst at uni?)  we would get the photos.  Almost a year after the event.  By that time, we could attribute any imperfections to the quality of the film, or to our youth and folly.  When, however, you are photographed at a party today, the whole world has access to it within seconds.  And you can’t monitor it.  It is only your closest friends that you can ask not to publish truly horrible pictures of you.  Otherwise, if someone else puts one up and – horror of horrors – actually tags you in it, you just have to untag it as soon as possible and hope that no one ever notices that one time you had a double chin (ahem) or make up running down your face by the end of the evening.

Either way, there are very few real photos published today, and I think that is a shame.  Although if there is a chin removing app (not photoshop, I am not talented enough to use it) I will buy that sucker in a heartbeat.  I am telling you they are photo-bombing me.

So of the 300 records I have put out there, the only one that has generated any interest was the John and Yoko one.  Not even Harry Belafonte’s greatest hits, or the OSTs of Hello Dolly and Thoroughly Modern Millie have tickled anyone’s fancy.  I can hardly believe it.  I think I will just take them to a charity shop.  At least I got some positive feedback on the Greek ones, although that will involve carting them to Greece at some point.  Anyway, as long as they are being enjoyed instead of sitting in a garage gathering dust, that is a good thing. 

It is very gratifying to know that someone is enjoying the stuff you no longer want or need.  This was best illustrated to me on one of my successful forays into selling something on e-bay.  When we were clearing out our old house, I found the old dolls that my Dad had brought me from his travels to the Far East.  They used to sit up on a high shelf in my room, pretty to look at but too fragile to play with.  Many of them were from Japan, but there were some Korean ones as well.  I thought I would try and sell them on e-bay.  I photographed them, found out how much they would cost to package and post but also put that if people wanted to avoid the cost of postage, they could come and pick them up.

Within hours of them going on to the auction site, they were being bid for.  I had no expectations at all and had put them on there for an extremely low price.  By the end of the week, they were sold, some for me to package and some to be collected. 

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One Saturday morning, as arranged, the doorbell rang and this couple walked in.  Our house was in quite a state by then, there were boxes all over the place, piles of stuff, a skip outside that was full to overflowing.  The couple introduced themselves and I went to fetch the doll.  I was quite pleased to be getting rid of it without throwing it away, it feels like you are passing something forward rather than ending a chapter.  Anyway, as I approached them with the doll in its presentation case in my hands, the woman looked up, gasped, said: “Oh, she’s beautiful!” and burst into tears. 

I was taken aback.  I mean, it was a beautiful doll, and I liked it too, but her reaction seemed extreme to me. 

She continued, with her husband’s arms around her, “I have been looking for her since I was a little girl, I can’t believe it. Oh thank you so much, she’s beautiful.” 

It was very sweet, how happy she was to be in possession of this doll and I really wanted to ask for the back story, but boxes were waiting to be packed and she obviously wanted to get home and put her doll up in pride of place.

“I know exactly where she’s going to go, finally oh, thank you so much…” she sniffled.  They turned to leave and her husband helped her into the car and turned back to me and said:

“You don’t know how much this means to her.  She has wanted a doll like this since she was a little girl and when she saw yours online, she couldn’t believe she was in with a chance to own one.  Thanks again.”

And off they went presumably to stare at the doll some more.  If ever there was proof that one woman’s rubbish is another woman’s treasure.  That was it.   Since then, I am a firm believer in trying to find a home for the stuff I no longer want rather than just throwing it away.  I know it’s much more time consuming, and often a longer path, but moments like that woman bursting into tears in my front hallway make it worthwhile.  I just realised that it now sounds as if I enjoy making people cry, that isn’t what I meant, obviously.  Let’s draw the line however, at giving stuff to charity and selling stuff on that really isn’t worth it.  I feel like some things really are rubbish and there are some things that people who volunteer in charity shops should not have to sift through.  The knickers you no longer wear because the elastic is gone and they are holey are for the bin, not the charity shop.  Likewise puzzles with missing pieces, board games with missing parts, mugs without handles, and broken shoes.  Unless you know an artist looking for materials who will take all of that stuff, just put it out of its misery.  The biggest ongoing argument with my sisters (who hate to throw anything away) is that sometimes rubbish is just rubbish.  K always wants to recycle the item in parts.  This is all very well – no objections, but often, these are not things that can go into a City of Westminster mixed recycling bag.  It usually involves taking the items apart, disposing of the parts that aren’t recycleable, and then finding a place which recycles the leftover felt/feathers etc.  D on the other hand can see crafting potential in almost anything.  So whatever I throw out has to pass the ‘can-I-take-stuff-off-it-for-my-craft-box test.  D is currently on her second 60 litre craft box, and so far I have seen her open it once.  I can’t complain now though, it is in her room and so not disturbing me at all.   

The other day, I noticed that two pairs of our kitchen scissors were broken beyond repair.  One of  them had cracked and so the loop you put your thumb in had a gap big enough for your thumb to slip through.  After slipping and almost dismembering myself several times, I felt it was time to retire them.  The second pair had been burnt and the plastic was sticking out in such a way that I bled every time I used them.  I bought a new pair and binned the other two pairs.  I didn’t put them on ebay or gumtree, or take them to the charity shop or offer them to a friend, I didn’t pass go or collect £200, I just put them in the bin.  When D saw the new pair, she admired them and asked why we bought new ones.  I explained.  And then sat and listened to a 10 minute diatribe on how she had been cutting herself on those scissors since she was a child and how could I be so heartless and precipitous in throwing away these valued family heirlooms.  All the high points were hit: my heartlessness, her despair at the way in which she was side-lined and ignored, my trigger –happy throwing out impulse.  I had to apologise for throwing out two broken pairs of scissors. 

  Plus ça change.

 

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