Passing out on the parquet.

I was fascinated to hear that the friend of a friend’s daughter has started writing letters to everyone he knows. Proper, handwritten letters, to be posted, with stamps on and all. We’re talking teenagers, by the way. You know: that strange breed who spend their days glued to social media, sending pictures of themselves to all and sundry and who rely heavily on text speak. Yes, one of those. I’m impressed!

As for myself, I am heartily relieved I don’t need to write more than birthday or Christmas cards, these days. I have been ticked off for my terrible handwriting most of my life: from being threatened with moving down a grade at school because of it (it didn’t happen, phew), to an ex-boss, many years ago, telling me I would never get on in the magazine I was working on at the time if I didn’t improve my handwriting. I politely pointed out that the two people with the worst, almost indecipherable writing, were the editor and deputy editor of the magazine, and it hadn’t impeded their progress to the top. She couldn’t say anything to that and it was never mentioned again.

While on holiday in Cornwall one year, I thought I’d send a load of postcards to family and friends; only to discover, when I returned home, that none of them had been able to decipher my happy holiday ramblings. And on one occasion, my mother only received a letter from me because the postman finally managed to de-code my scribbles and work out the address on the envelope. “That,” said my mother, as the poor man retreated to have a nice little lie-down in his van, “is the handwriting of someone in a terrible hurry.”

I have to admit to sometimes having trouble reading my own shopping lists, and often find it helpful to draw little pictures of the items next to the words. To confuse myself even further, I have been known to put some of the items in shorthand. My own version of text speak, I suppose. I like to think it keeps my brain active, though it can all get a bit much, when, hours later, after arriving home and unpacking my bags, I discover I’ve bought yet another block of butter, when, on closer inspection and after studying the drawing, my handwriting and shorthand squiggle combined, I realise it should have been a tin of sardines. And to think I passed my Art A-level!

Talking of text speak, I am finding myself slipping into saying aloud such things as: “Atm,” or: “Btw,” or: “Tbh,” or: “Lol,” rather a lot, lately.  Well, it saves so much time, doesn’t it?

I was idly wondering about fly-tipping the other day. There must have been a lot more of it about, recently, due to all the refuse tips being closed. However, at least one of ours is about to open up again, albeit very heavily restricted and with a great long set of social-distancing rules. No doubt bracing itself to receive the results of Surrey’s lockdown clear-outs over the past however-many-weeks (I’ve lost count). I am embarrassed to say that we have done nothing – nothing! – towards the massive sort-out we ourselves need to do, in readiness for selling our house and downsizing in the near-future (long story).

When out and about at the weekend, we spotted a woman offloading a coffee table onto one of the skips currently blocking the entrance to a rather infamous car park adjoining local woods. I won’t repeat what it’s famous for – I have already done so in a previous blog, so you’ll just have to go back and read the whole lot until you find it. That’ll learn you.

Anyway.  The OH and I both agreed the aforementioned table was perfectly vile and not worth rescuing and I pondered over why I have never found anything really nice or interesting, let alone valuable, in a skip in my entire life. All I ever see in them is builders’ rubble and empty crisp packets.  A friend is always finding things, annoyingly, though I have benefitted occasionally from this. I have a thing for old garden pots – 68 at the last count – and some of the nicest have come via her skip forays.

I often read about people who find interesting items of furniture in skips and, once, someone boasted in a magazine about spotting a lovely old Victorian pine cupboard in the middle of a busy main road. There was even a picture attached. (Of the LOVPC, not the BMR. That would have been weird.) I imagined it to have fallen from an open boot, or roof-rack, with the poor driver doing a frantic and highly dangerous U-turn in the middle of said road a little further along, risking life and limb to dash back for it; only to find it had been swiped. (If I were the swipee, or swiperer (?), I think I might have kept quiet about it, tbh  – oops, there I go again).

I always wince at some point when watching the Antiques Roadshow. Someone tips up with a nice old decorative safety-pin they bought in a charity shop for fifty pence, which turns out to have been one of only half a dozen in existence, once used to keep Queen Victoria’s vast knicker collection together, or some such, and worth “at auction” a cool seventy-five thousand pounds. I really feel for the poor person who donated it to the shop, who is most likely staring at the telly in open-mouthed horror, before keeling over and passing out on the parquet.

Someone once found a valuable old dish at a car boot fair, which turned out to be worth many thousands.  It made the news at the time. Imagine being the poor hapless soul who sold it to them!  I think I’d have had to leave the country. It pays to rummage through those boxes which are always half-tucked under the table at these fairs, btw (oops again! See what I mean?). I found a nice old garden pot for a mere eight quid that way.  And a vintage print which, although it cost me a hundred pounds, is worth at least double that. It was mixed up with a load of other old prints in a box. But that’s as good as it gets in this household. None of that: “It’s been in the fam-legh since the Battle of Bosworth Field,” then it’s straight round to the auction house when told it’s worth a hundred thousand pounds, whatever it may be. Sod the “fam-legh” – they can fend for themselves.

The way things are at the moment, I wonder if there will be any shows or fairs to attend, this year. I really hope there will; not least because we are looking to sell things, not buy them, atm (and again!). We had, in fact, already booked and paid for a stand at a local fair later this month, in the hopes of offloading some of our accumulated junk.  Obviously, that’s not going to happen now. Maybe later on this year? Who knows? At this stage, it’s anybody’s guess…





Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.

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