The day-to-day existence of grading vintage clothing is very much like being in Gabriel Marquez's One Hundred Days Of Solitude, without the complex themes and motifs. With fashion trends everything is circular but now and again our working malaise is suddenly broken by small glimpses of a life previously lived. Whether it’s a 1986 detectives clue of a matchbox from The New Yorker Hotel, a packet of perfectly preserved Free-era Wrigley's chewing gum, a German Lutheran hymn sheet, these once mundane gems from the past are invested with nostalgia from a time we can never travel back to. It's these little tokens that we're unwittingly posted from the past that makes the process of sorting the precious old rope from irredeemable rags just that little bit more bearable.
Here's some of our favourite thrift shop anthropology and how we’d like to think they came to be:
A Strip Of Raffle Tickets
Fittingly, as with most of our finds, this was found in a rather dilapidated donkey jacket. As it dated from the 1980's, I like to imagine an even more regional Jim Bowen type touting these at a weekend local car boot sale. During the weekdays I assume the raffle tickets probably doubled up as betting slips as the venue was more than likely a full time greyhound track.
Enter now to win the latest Transformer (cctually read knock off 'Super Transformation Robot') for the kiddies or perhaps, for the wife, be the talk of the town with this, much prized, four kilometre wide microwave oven with deluxe asbestos rays'
They never had it so good, the Lucky Bastards. I struggle to get people to have a pint at lunchtime but in those days beer and gambling was the male equivalent of a smoothie and Towie catch-up.
Two Photographs From An Old Photo-Booth
In a lot of ways, only having two of these photographs gives me an incomplete story. Is the father widower making sure he values every moment with his children or is he perhaps a divorcee separated from their mother.
A fleeting moment of Woolworths passport photo sentimentality during his allotted Saturday now preserved in the timelessness of a photograph. Was this pre- or post- pick and mix? Boiled sweets or new-fangled gelatinous sugar coated ones? Matched with the subtle Slade hairdo, his 70s brown and orange bomber jacket, regardless of the fittingly classic colours of the era, tells you very little about a life indistinguishable from a pair of images. They look genuinely happy though don't they?
Sadly, being quite the opposite of genuine, I sometimes carry these around in my inside blazer pocket when I'm out. Like George in 'The Bizarro Jerry' of Seinfeld. It makes me look more interesting than I am when I pretend I've 'just found them there,' though I do try to at least keep a constantly original commentary regarding their origins, if only to amuse myself. At least I'm not walking around with an original penguin copy of The Waves sticking out of my pocket to try and sway impressionable girls with flighty and tempestuous ideas of poetry and suicide. Well not on days with vowels in anyway…
Bag Of Dried Out Skunk
In many ways I consider myself to be the new Howard Marks. Except of course for a few things like the degree from Oxford, interest in Welsh or any nations Rugby, the supposed hidden multi-millions and the somewhat egomaniacal mythologising and despicable utter lack of remorse for putting his family through a prison sentence. That and I find most stoners are as interesting as watching post grad Open University completely sober in the middle of the day when the weather is beautiful and sunny outside. That Super Furry Animals song was good though wasn't it?
But yes. A somewhat large bag of marijuana was found in one of our burgundy velvet jackets. I like to imagine a foppish San Franciscan simply forgot about his stash and left it during a beat poetry reading at City Lights. Heaven knows what would make a person so absent-minded? Via "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things" it ended up on our doorstep making us accidental international drug dealers. Without the dealing. Or without the further supply. Or without any intention to supply to tokers who can only be referred to as humanity's condensation.
A somewhat large bag of marijuana was found in one of our burgundy velvet jackets. I like to imagine a foppish San Franciscan simply forgot about his stash and left it during a beat poetry reading at City Lights
What happened to the weed you ask? A friend tried to smoke this using a converted can of Oranjeboom as a slum pipe during the first election of Obama. He passed out but I’m pretty sure it was more due to a lagging Dimbelby's lackadaisical live coverage rather than any kind of extraordinary psychotropic overdose.
If you're interested buying the stash pictured. I can do you a deal for £1.96 a kilo*.
From the outer pouch pocket of an early 90s grungy hunting jacket. Our photographer at the time was very excited by the live ammunition he found. For me it proved more depressingly that he was actually just a terribly handsome hat rack when it came to common sense. Placing the newly found bullet firmly between his lips he proceeded to blow as hard as he could muster into the bright red shell, repeatedly trying this until he gave up in a spat of near hyperventilation.
'It's a duck hunt whistle right?'
Being conveniently short sighted, which, in most cases, lends itself to being able to wonderfully 'blank' unremittingly dull acquaintances in the street, I fobbed him off with a 'Yes, yes, it's probably broken' and carried on with whatever work I was pretending to be busy with at the time. Minutes later, noticing that his gasps and wheezing were continuing I approached the dear bimbo only to notice he was still attempting to inflate the shotgun cartridge with the bronchial vigour of a forty-a-dayer.
After reading years ago about about a man who got arrested for taking a shorn-off shotgun dumped in his front garden to the police station I had a brief panic about importing unlicensed weaponry into the UK before ringing the local force to check it was OK to bring them in. Judging by how blasé they were about a relatively young man bringing in murder sweets, it was almost as if there was an amnesty on that they’d forgotten to advertise. I guess it turns out guns kill people. Not bullets.
*While stocks last, furthermore, in the event that it turns out to actually be very dusty tasting coriander, I reserve no responsibility.
Lucian Tanner is the owner of Thrifty Beatnik.
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