I started volunteering a few weeks ago. I wanted to do something good. Wanted to give something back. You know what I am talking about, right? Do a good deed and hope somehow, somewhere, somebody passes it on.
I had the urge at the beginning of last year to do more. I began to give blood regularly and now it is the norm. Don’t know why it took me 42 years to get round to doing it to be honest…it’s so easy and if you live in the UK all you have to initially do is go to this site: https://www.blood.co.uk …hint hint...
This year I still felt I needed to do something that involved me making an actual effort. Something that made me get out of bed and go and do something to help. Eventually I decided on volunteering in a charity shop. So far it is just on a Saturday afternoon. That’s great right? I mean ok it is only one afternoon a week, hardly earth shattering...still though it’s better than nothing. A selfless act? Not exactly. As a wise man, called Joey, once said there is no such thing as a selfless good deed.
The particular charity shop that I help in happens to be one that specialises in Books and Music. It is actually called Books and Music. The name kinda gives away what they sell. The two things I love, nearly as much as my wife, are books and music. There is no greater joy than cracking open a new read (I still do hard and paper backs) or placing a new record on the turntable (I still do vinyl). I would quite happily spend every Saturday afternoon at home doing the same…so it is hardly a chore for me to do the same thing in a shop.
I didn’t just pick this particular store at random to offer my skills (whatever they may be). I used to live close by and would have a browse fairly regularly. It was pot luck on the vinyl side of things. I bought a Bruce Springsteen Born in The USA picture disc in perfect condition (now hanging nicely in a frame on my wall). I also picked up David Essex Best Of...so there really is no accounting for music taste. Indeed a few months ago, before I started working there, I visited the store and saw that an 80's music lover's entire record collection (mint condition) was on the shelves. I spent quite a bit of money that day...all to a good cause though (the good cause being my much needed record fix...and the BHF). As I say, it really is pot luck as to what you will find.
It is very much early days; I have only been there a few weeks, so far I have sorted books and…yes…music. Last week I updated the CD racks and then refreshed and sorted the Sci Fi Book section. As I said, this is hardly a chore. So does this count as helping a charity? After all it feels like I am getting more from it than the BHF is. Also, now that I volunteer there I get to see behind the curtain...the back room. The back room with mountains of donations. The amount that come is is truly heart warming (no bad thing for a heart charity) although it also shows that people buy all sorts of weird and wonderful books; 'An Introductory Guide to the Post Boxes of Hemel Hempstead' anyone? Each to their own.
I get a lot of joy from books and records. The smell of vinyl or a new book evokes great memories. Talking to other book and record lovers in BHF brings just as much joy. Whether it is customers looking for a bargain, or just chatting to the guys that work there, it is great to be in that environment. Ok so I had better not get carried away. They have yet to let me loose on the till. If, and when, they do things could go horribly wrong. I could accidentally charge £500 for a 50p copy of a history of World War II. Or sell a signed autobiography of Nelson Mandela for 50p instead of the £500 that it may be worth. Hopefully not....watch this space.
The shop is the perfect size (not as Waterstones warehouse) for spending a few hours in. If you are in London then why not come and visit. There is much to see. Every week the stock changes. There are donations galore (they always need more). It doesn’t matter if you come looking for a vinyl copy of Lionel Ritchie's Greatest Hits, a big book on gardening, a ‘Game of Thrones’ novel (not a new one alas...he's still writing it), a travel book on Venice, a map of Scotland, sheet music from any genre, random fitness DVDs, or anything by Charlaine Harris (her entire collection is there at the moment), come and have a browse as you never know what you may find.
Dado (Living The Dream)