Sunday, 2 August 2015

Other People's Treasures

Recent books I've read: 
"Us" by David Nichols.  Really enjoyed this.  It was very funny with a touch of sadness like a twist of lemon in an exquisite cocktail.  Love his style - refreshing!
Haven't read "One Day" so am judging solely on this book.
"Never let me go" by Kazuo Ishiguro .  Again, I love the style of writing, it is refreshingly different. This is a disturbing book, which despite some weakness in the plot, keeps you fascinated to the end.  I will look out for more of his novels. 
Both of the above novels kept me reading late into the night which is the highest compliment I can pay them!

I often get my books in charity shops.  Books that have been read and enjoyed and passed around have a different feel to them than the ones you get direct from the bookshop. And once in a while you meet someone who is either working in the shop or browsing themselves and they strike up a conversation with you.  Striking up conversations with complete strangers on a subject that you are interested in is one of the nicest things to happen, I always think. One minute you are on your own, preoccupied, thumbing through all those paperbacks in search of a good read, and suddenly someone says "have you read this one?  I thought it was a great read" and in less time than it takes to click-and-buy you're yapping away as if you'd known this person for ages.  Buying online has its advantages but the human link is both rare and precious.

Talking about precious things.  I remember when I lived in Germany that the city council would collect what they called "Sperrmuell" every six months or so.  Sperrmuell is one of those wonderful German combination words from "sperrig" meaning bulky and "muell" meaning refuse.  So they collected bulky items that you couldn't cart down to the local dump unless you had a truck.  The collection trucks turned out around 6 a.m. so everyone put their stuff out the night before.  Neighbours met neighbours who they hadn't seen for weeks in the winter months.  There were lively conversations and sometimes unwanted stuff was simply swapped among the locals.  All kinds of things were stacked up on the street:  old armchairs and sofas, kitchen tables and chairs, broken vacuum cleaners, prams.  Pieces of people's lives, I sometimes thought.  Your financial situation improved so you could finally get rid of that suite of furniture which you hated the sight of for the past twenty years.  Finally got rid of that old vacuum cleaner, washing machine, oven.  Of course other things were thrown out as well which were not necessarily bulky but which didn't fit in the domestic waste / recycling bins. I've seen sets of crockery, toys, books, bedding.   Late at night there would be clangs and rattles as people combed through the piles of stuff looking for things they could use.  The scrap dealers drove round in their trucks and took away anything usable.  Some people toured all night even though they were not necessarily in need of anything.  I knew a few people who would show me a lamp which they had restored or even once, I remember, a television set which they'd got working again.  I heard that a local vicar had furnished his house entirely with stuff salvaged from sperrmuell. He simply cleaned it all up and gave a fresh coat of paint to things like kitchen cupboards, tables and chairs.  It was fun and when the trucks had done their work next morning, waking you at 6 a.m. just before your alarm went off, you had that clean, start afresh feeling.  Until your basement filled up again,of course.

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