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  • martindukes


My home town used to be famous for making glass. That was in the days before it was discovered that people in foreign countries could do it more cheaply. Then most of the glass manufacturers here, unable to compete, had to shut down, leaving a legacy of museums and a few small ‘craft’ operations keeping some of the skills and traditions alive. Likewise, it used to be the case that people bought and treasured cut glass, gave sets of crystal whisky tumblers or wine glasses for wedding presents. Not any more. You can’t sell the stuff for love nor money nowadays. I had to clear out a vast quantity of this from my parents’ home. It was all lovely stuff, barring the occasional chip, but we had nowhere to keep it. The attic was already stuffed with various legacies of nick-nacks from other deceased relatives. It made me think that we have too much stuff. That many people have the same legacy of items they don’t need or use but can’t quite bring themselves to dispose of. Car boot sales are an obvious outlet if the ruthless decision to ‘get rid’ is finally made. Car boot sales keep in circulation items so hideous and useless that it is hard to conceive that anyone once made them and thought to themselves, ‘job done, another example of human dexterity and artistic discernment enters the world.’ Really? Did the world really need that cigarette lighter shaped to resemble Fred Flintstone? And did someone really purchase it from new? But there it is, alongside many such unpleasant objects, destined to change hands at such sales in all perpetuity. And then there is the strange supercharged parsimony that comes over people under these circumstances, people who wouldn’t normally go into a shop and attempt to haggle over a new handbag. But here they are, picking up one you’ve got for sale for a very moderate 50p and saying ‘Will you take 30 for it?’.

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