Guest blogger: Pauline Dawson

I can’t remember how I know Pauline. I’ve actually never met her but follow her on Twitter, talk to her online (she writes about art) and she knows a lot of other people I know too.

Buying memories
Over the last four or five years I have become a convert to the art of op shopping (or thrift shopping if you prefer). For a start it was an interesting way to add to my oddball collections, then as belts were pulled tighter it became a useful thing to do and then a necessity. Somewhere along the way I became almost addicted to the idea that reusing and recycling other people’s junk was an acceptable and efficient way of being a consumer. Now I get my retail therapy at the dump.

Apart from the ‘green’ aspects, it’s been a practical move and I’ve been able to buy clothes, get bikes for the whole family, repair my vacuum cleaner and many other things for minimal cost. However, lately I’ve noticed something else in my op shopping habits; I’ve been buying memories.

It started with a fork.

In the 1970s I spent a lot of time with a neighbouring family. They always had the newest fashionable things of the time. Their house then would be a retro fanatics dream now. It was stereotypical 1970s design heaven. And they had this cutlery. It was so different from the sturdy stainless steel wedding gift set my family had since the 1950s. To me it was strange and sleek and modern. So when I spotted a knife and a fork from this set for 20c I had to have them. Although the knife broke, as with Proust and his madeleines, I am transported back to my childhood every time I use the fork.

Some memories are more vague, almost as if seeing through another’s eyes. I spotted this tea caddy recently and was overwhelmed with a hazy memory of being very small and the caddy being very high up on a mantel piece or a high shelf. I know someone from my past owned a caddy exactly like this, a grandparent I think, but I am not really certain. And so another 50c time machine joins the ‘Museum of Me’ *

Unfortunately I come from a long line of hoarders and although these adventures of memory are captivating to me, I must try not to become the junk lady from the movie Labyrinth. But I’ll settle for somewhere between that and stark minimalism.

* These four entries on Giovanni Tiso’s blog are a great read if you are at all interested in objects and memory.


4 Responses to Guest blogger: Pauline Dawson

  1. […] I’ve just done a guest blog for Emma over at Small Town Stories […]

  2. sonicjett says:

    “It started with a [kiss] fork
    I don’t know how it came to this!”

  3. Helen says:

    I’m not as much of an op shopper as I feel I ought to be – reusing perfectly good items is a social good as well as a personal financial one – but I’m totally with you about the memory stuff. I have bought various things in second-hand shops because of memories – such a cut-glass jug that reminded me of the one my grandparents have. And I have a tea cup I bought cheap at the Aro Fair a couple of year ago, which my sister-in-law always wants to use when she’s here because it is the same pattern as one her grandmother had.

  4. Donnelle says:

    My step-dad had that cutlery!

    My favourite op-shop find was MY BLANKY. I loved my blanket- a woollen one with silk ribbon edges- to the point where it fell apart. I used to suck my thumb and rub the ribbon on my nose. It came everywhere with me. I was distraught when it disintegrated.

    And then one day, when I was at uni, I saw MY BLANKY in an op shop. Damn tootin’ I bought it.

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