I like to go out and find things I didn’t know I was looking for. It’s how I find most of the books I end up buying, and the two novels and a record I’ve brought home with me just now.
I’d walked out restlessly into the rain that’s now fallen all day. Summer rain and a frank relief to walk round in after such a torrid week. Then there’d been coffee, dry out and a read before crossing Smithdown, like most Saturdays, to the big Oxfam.
Going in I’d helped a man who was dragging a heavy sideboard to lift it into his car.
“Must have been expecting me” I’d thought, hefting the weight of the thing. “How else was he getting this home?”
After that I followed my usual route round records, electricals, small objects then books. Not knowing, as I’ve said, whether I was looking for something or nothing. But enjoying the serendipity of a charity shop, like I usually do.
In this one the classical and jazz records seem to arrive in collections of when someone has died. Collections of taste where I imagine the late owners picking their LPs to go with each other.
“Oh yes, someone who liked this by Debussy might well have picked that by Saint-Saens. Or, the Coleman Hawkins and the Ruby Braff Sextet? I sort of get that.”
Over the following few Saturdays I’ll watch these collections slim down as other customers also spot the good taste and buy some. What’s left slipping gradually to the back with the other remainders, waiting to be landfill.
Today? In electricals and small objects I played with the controls on a cassette deck. My fingers enjoying the remembering that you’d press the ‘record’ and ‘play’ keys together to do taping. But I didn’t buy it, or the smart little coffee pot I hadn’t known I was looking for until it wasn’t there.
What I did get though, along with the two novels, was a record of songs by Pete Atkin and Clive James that I’d had long ago and have played while writing this. Remembering how much I always liked it, at the same time as seeing if I could write about the pleasure of finding things you’re not looking for in the time it took one of them to come to it’s end. Which I have, the LP ending with the words:
“Give my love to the beautiful stranger”
And mine to the beauty of chance. The chance finding of things you weren’t even looking for.