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)
While 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.