I see the creators of Love Island decided to dress the contestants in second-hand clothes from eBay. This counts as good news, from a sustainability perspective, but I would have been even happier if they had gone to the local charity shop.
I love a good chazza, as no one in Leith calls it, since I spent most of my childhood being dragged around them. Stumbling upon one of those revolving bookcases filled with paperbacks by Georgette Heyer and PD James is a profoundly Proustian experience for me. Charity shops are microcosms of our main streets, telling us everything we need to know about a place’s jib cut. Anything good for the climate and bad for capitalism should be welcomed as warmly as a vintage porcelain boxer dog for £3. (No regrets.) There really should be a Great British Charity Shop Off on TV now.
I love them for their specificity, and the identi-kitsch that hides in them: the sewing patterns, the cards, the mugs, the dusty glassware, the cookbooks of Jamie Oliver and the records of James Last. When I come home to visit my dad and sister in South West London, it’s all last season’s Margaret Howell dresses and, whatever the decade, giant Monsoon dresses. The kind of charity shops that Mary Portas once embellished. Here in Leith people shop there and as the cost of living crisis worsens they will be used more. How appalling that he returns, once again, to charity.
This is also where the best encounters take place. I was examining a Count Basie record for scratches in my local British Heart Foundation store yesterday when a middle-aged man tapped me on the shoulder. My first thought was, “HE WANTS TO TAKE MY RECORD BASIC £2 ACCOUNT!” NEVER!” Quickly followed by: “HE WANTS TO MANSPLAINE ME JAZZ! NEVER!” Well he wanted to let me know that in ‘the Bethany up the road there are three Basies, rare ones, £1.50 each’. He gave me a wink, said “go ahead, young lady”, and we parted ways.