Some books …

There are some books people should just not donate. Not in this day and, thankfully more politically correct, age.


In fact, quite a lot of the time, there are lots of books people should just not donate.



The donor told me she had taken the ‘unsuitable’ ones to the tip. I dread to think what state they were in, given the ones she gave us were quite unsaleable. So…..


But then, as a regular reader will know there are the mysteries which make the endless sacking – and I did four solid hours of it the other day, whilst also ‘tending’ the till and yes I did polish my halo – worthwhile.

Back in February, we had a mystery Russian painting donated and try as I might, I could not find out anything about it and though I liked it and wanted to keep it, I could hardly give Oxfam a few quid to find out that it was the early work of a collectable ( no doubt by an oligarch) master.

But Deepest Sussex harbours more interesting types than you might think and our village produced a lovely man who is a Russian and East European art dealer.

He was very kind but basically told me the picture was a daub and if I liked it, I should hold on to it and wait – one day, you never know, the artist might be discovered….


We have in the shop an Iranian book – large but slim – which is an illustrated version of Rumi’s poetry.

It is not old, in fact published in Teheran in the 1990s, but in a limited edition and I can’t find one for sale anywhere on the internet.

The illustrations are all paintings by well-known Iranian artists – I can find out that much – but that’s all.

So, if anyone knows an Iranian bookseller who knows his/her art and Rumi, do let me know.

As far as I am aware, there isn’t one of those in the village.

And then we had a book donated which was a kind of scrapbook of letters sent to a Mr Percy Wood.

A couple of the letters came from Osborne House and Buckingham Palace and turned out to be from Sir Henry Ponsonby who was Queen Vic’s private secretary.

This got me a bit excited but it turns out on closer examination that most of the letters were a polite declining of some invitation or another.

I found it very hard to track down what Mr Percy Wood was doing to get letters from Sir Henry.

Google was not helping – so he obviously wasn’t much in the news in his day – or any other for that matter.

Eventually, I found out he was a photographer and he went bankrupt in 1879 – so despite at least once taking pictures of Victoria, he is also still waiting to be discovered as an artistic genius.



Hardy Girls

Working at Oxfam is not always without its dangers and falling over a sack of books the other week, I failed to use my hand quick enough and it was my head that crunched against a wall.

Later I got a rather attractive, I may say, purple slash across my right eyelid and it looked a bit Egyptian and all that was fine but by the time we got to Liverpool for the weekend, it had gone rather brown and ugly.

So, not being one to use make-up in any expert fashion, I went into Debenhams and asked one of the nice make-up ladies to disguise me as someone who had not recently fallen into a wall.

She was great and fixed me up and what is more, she and I railed enjoyably for a while about the appalling mistake that is Brexit.

( My best beloved had been speaking at a conference on the issue so I could chat amiably about the issues around the international arrest warrant and so on…)

Tarted up, by my standards anyway, I went off in search of the Walker Art Gallery – if you ever make it to Liverpool, do go – it is a gem of a gallery and there are some quite posh pictures in it.

Not having been to Liverpool for many years, I was using a map. Every time I stopped to look at it, some friendly local would stop and say, ‘ You looking for the Cavern, love?’

I was caught in the dilemma of not wanting to sound ridiculously pretentious and say,’ Not at all, my good man! I am of course in search of artistic enlightenment not the dive once frequented by a group of popular musicians,’ and actually finding the Walker.

On my way I saw a great advert for the upcoming fashion week:



Infact everyone in Liverpool seemed to be on their best friendly behaviour from the man who made great bacon sarnies, handily just around the corner from our hotel and thus providing a cheap and tasty breakfast, to, well everyone else I met.

As well as bacon sarnies, Liverpool does some great food and we went out of an ( early) evening to look for it ( of course, we had one night with a room service club sandwich in bed watching the telly) –  and marvelled at what we saw.

There was not a young woman to be seen in other than skimpy clothing for what felt to me like a rather chilly weekend – and what they lacked in fabric, they made up for in height.

No one seemed to have less than six inch heels – not just for standing about but for off, away and dancing on what was probably going to be a long night

It reminded me of when I first moved to London many years ago and was staying with a friend in Finsbury Park.

Arriving back late-ish from work one night in winter, I reported to her how the local young women were very hardy given they were standing around on the corner apparently waiting for friends, wearing hardly any clothes.

I’d led a sheltered life….