The Sussex Housewife Syndrome

There are some days when I realise just what a Sussex Housewife I have become and some days when I see another example of the tribe and don’t like it.

The other day, and dear reader this is my annual moan about the after Christmas donation ‘boom’ to our Oxfam bookshop, there was a woman who brought in some books.

It is not an absolute rule, but more often than not a snitty donator gives crap books and never buys from us.

( Nice donators do too, but at least they are nice about it.)

She was a Sussex Housewife like myself so there might have been some tribal loyalty, but oh no.

We were stashed out with books and I was on my own sorting them. There were boxes, carrier bags, black bags, piles, heaps, crates, of books.

She walked in with a bag of books and handed them to me saying, ‘ I need my bag back and I have more in the car so if you could empty that bag quickly, as I am parked illegally, I will bring the next lot.

I asked how many more she had as we were rather over-filled – as, I might add, she could see.

‘ I have as many as I have and no, I didn’t count them individually before I brought them to you. But as I said, I am in a hurry so could you just empty the bags quickly.’

She might as well have said, ‘You can’t get the grateful charity volunteers these days, no more than you can get good staff.’

All of her books went in a sack. They were some old law books, written on, out of date, unsaleable.

Followed by bags of battered, dated cookery books, browned paperback fiction and a few Jeremy Clarkson’s for good measure.

I was tempted to just hold a sack open and get her to empty them in but of course, we don’t do that.

So, I have spent a lot of the past couple of weeks, practising my sweet smile in the face of adversity.

But just as I am mentally spitting venom at the Sussex Housewife syndrome, I come up short against myself.

This week, my book club is meeting to discuss an intense, pre-war Norwegian book. If that isn’t Sussex Housewife, goodness knows what is.

And to make matters worse, we are meeting in a nice local restaurant and the book title, and subject matter, is Hunger.


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