Drought and Uncertainty

Usually I am complaining in a rather martyred way about the amount of books I am clearing every shift at Oxfam, making it quite clear that there is a never ending flood of books that only I am holding back from swamping the shop.

Well, dear reader, it is course not just me by a long chalk – and what is more, at this moment, the flood has turned into a drought.

So, out the back of the shop where we pile the sacks for recycling it is usually just this side of chaos – this week was clear, blank, empty – even, hoovered!

I am not sure what to do with myself if truth be told. Usually whilst sorting books I am complaining ( in a rather martyred way) that I could get on with all sorts of other things to make our shop even more successful if only I didn’t have to empty another ten boxes of books.

But, I have sold the latest collection of erotica to the second-hand bookshop – Oxfam frowns on the idea of selling sex in the shops.

I have put the hobbies and crafts into order – now embroidery books are next to knitting, well away from DIY in a retro/pre-feminist move – and all the books you would ever, ever need to learn how to paint or draw are sitting with each other.

Religion has been sorted into world religions ( in groups, starting with Buddhism and moving alphabetically onwards) with all and sundry other stuff about crystals and angels and spaceship visitations attached on the end of the shelf.

(One day someone is going to buy the massive tome on Dreams and Their Interpretations. I think it may have been around in the shop, one way or another, longer than I have.

Occasionally, I find someone has moved it to the Academic section and, although it protests, I insist on moving it back to Esoteric.)

I have re-ordered the Old & Interesting into blocks of colour – all the blue books, the green books etc etc.

And every time you change the shelves – update, juggle, fiddle, change the front-facing books, you always get more interest in them.

There were two books – dating from the 1960s – about hunting in junk shops.

They have been out on the shelves for months and I was just about the cull them – short as we are of books, standards need to be maintained, or at least upheld more or less  and anyway, they didn’t find my colour-coding plan – when a customer fell upon them with delight. At £1 each she had a bargain and another two books were rescued from the recycling fate.

Someone came in looking for an ‘interesting’ golf book for her son. (Now to my mind there are very few interesting golf books – and all of those were written by P G Wodehouse.)

But such is the drought, that we had none – we who are usually knee deep in golf and cricket books – had none.

After a bit of thought, I persuaded her that a much better idea was the lovely (and it was lovely) hip-flask with St Andrew’s etched on it. Luckily, that was £7.99 of hip flask rather than the usual £2.49 of ‘how to improve your swing’ book.

Upstairs, my stock of book collections is also looking thin.

We still have the box on heraldry and chivalry – based on a generous donation of heraldry books supplemented with anything I can find with a knight on the front.

But we need a centrepiece for the window to go with it, and no one I asked had a suit of armour within their reach….

We have a plan to do a window on the birds and the bees ( no, not a way to sneak in sex) using a few of the lovely bee palaces my fellow volunteer sells. (www.beepalace.com)

But we are short on bee books. Bird books, even lovely ones, are two a penny but there is a shortage, not just of bees, but bee books.

We might have to broaden it out to pollinators and include butterfly books, bat books -hummingbird books at a pinch. But birds and pollinators does not have the same ring to it.

Our manager reckons it is uncertainty about the EU referendum which is causing this drought of donations.

I’m sure in the corridors of power, they are talking about the influence of uncertainty in the referendum, but I bet they are not taking the Oxfam bookshop in Petersfield into account.


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