Decluttering

The Rag & Bone Man by Bernard McMullen

The Rag & Bone Man by Bernard McMullen

When I was a youngster, a regular sight on the streets where I lived was the rag and bone man who would take old clothes and other junk in exchange for balloons and other knick-knacks.

His cry of ‘raaaag bo’ would have us kids scuttling round the house in search of anything we could swap, which wasn’t easy since nothing much got thrown away until it was beyond repair, so most of the old clothes we had were on our backs.

I suppose it was an early example of targeting marketing at children that would have the Daily Mail frothing at the mouth these days, but it was the sort of recycling that would have the environmentalists applauding. (I never worked out where the bone bit came in – must have been before my time)

Modern Rag and BoneWhile the rag and bone man’s horse and cart has long since disappeared, you do see his modern day equivalent on the streets, like the one on the right which you can see either parked outside his house on the main road, or by the recycling centre ready to take any scrap metal you want to get rid of. (Photo from Panoramio)

As for the rags, you can either drop them off at the recycling centre or trade them in at any of the many cash for clothing shops that have sprung up, like the one in Romiley that is happy to accept your cast-offs and accessories in exchange for a few pounds, so obviously there is a profit to be made from a tired wardrobe.

But the one thing that no-one seems interested in are old books. There was a time when the second-hand book stall on the market would give you a fair price, but that has long gone, and even the local charity shop has more books than it can shift and doesn’t want more. We did once take a stack to the shop mentioned above which duly weighed then in and offered us 50p because as far as they’re concerned, old books are no more than scrap paper.

I find this very sad and what prompted me to think on this is that we have been clearing our overflowing bookshelves of the titles we enjoyed reading, but know we’ll never read again. I took a load to the recycling centre yesterday for the paper and cardboard skip and there is another pile that will probably end up in our blue recycling bin this weekend, something I will do with a heavy heart.

But it has to be done. Master P is about to leave home for a new one he’ll be sharing with a couple of buddies, while Miss P shows no sign of returning from Japan, and the reality is beginning to dawn on us that the time to downsize can’t be too far away and to a house with a more manageable library.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

11 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 26th February 2016

    Sounds like you had a luxurious childhood. We didn’t have clothes. We wore dock leaves knitted together with bramble briars. As for the “bone” in “rag and bone”, that’s what we had for Christmas dinner. Aye, we were poor in them days.

    Reply
    • Mr Parrot 26th February 2016

      Ah you were lucky. I would’ve killed for a pair of dock leaf underpants when I were a lad. And as for Christmas, me and my sisters had to take it in turns to be the main meat course.

      Reply
  • Yorkshire Pudding 27th February 2016

    Aye ‘appen you were poor an all but not as poor as us. We were so poor we begged from beggars and drank from roadside puddles an we dint even av an ouse. We slept int sewer wi just rats fer cumpanee.

    Reply
    • Mr Parrot 27th February 2016

      Rats? We were too poor to ave rats and ad to make do with cockroaches instead. And we weren’t allowed to talk to beggars, or “the posh folk who live on the hill” as we used to call em.

      Reply
  • Kate 27th February 2016

    LUXURY! We couldn’t even talk we was so pore! We DREAMED of having posh folk to not talk to.

    Reply
  • Kate 27th February 2016

    Now I have actually read your post, I have something more sensible to say. Don’t recycle books just for the paper… Turn them into Traveling Books! Here’s the labels I made up. Just print off a stack and stick into the front of much-loved-but -no-room-for books…
    “I AM A TRAVELING BOOK. If you like the look of me, take me home and read me. Then leave me out somewhere for someone else. Ideas: anywhere drive. On a bus or train seat, at a cafe or restaurant, at school or at the gym, at work or at a friends house… This book again its journey from (place)… on (date) … ”
    I stick it in the front on the inside of the cover, fill in the place and date, and surreptiously place it in my local village or give to my daughter to take to the airports she passes through.

    Reply
  • Kate 27th February 2016

    Not ‘drive’. That word should be ‘dry’.

    Reply
  • Kate 27th February 2016

    And I missed the apostrophe in friend’s. It’s 5.30 am, ok?

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 28th February 2016

    With my track record on proof-reading my posts, I’m in no position to criticise commenters.

    But that is a great idea. I was sure that I’d blogged about BookCrossing at some time in the past, but I couldn’t find it in my archives. Whether or not our local council would consider a four foot high pile of books left on the high street as an act of cultural kindness is another matter!

    Reply
  • Steve 28th February 2016

    Do you have an Oxfam used book shop near you? They specifically take old books, though they want them in good condition. That’s where I’ve donated many of my old books in the past. It IS funny how books, once such a valuable commodity, are now seen as essentially trash.

    Reply
    • Mr Parrot 28th February 2016

      No Oxfam shop nearby, though I have tried the Methodist Church Thrift Shop. I will check Yellow Pages, or what passes for it on the interweb these days. I have a week before the blue bin is due for collection!

      Reply

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