Sunday, 30 October 2011

Psycho-delic Furs

The charity shops called yesterday. If I had the funds, and a shopping trolley to bring it all home, I would have pretty much emptied the Wales Air Ambulance and St David's Hospice shops.
There really is an improvement in stock once the boot sale season ends.

I bought three hats in the ambulance shop, some pretty material, a skirt, vintage napkins, a pyrex casserole dish (with lid!), a merino wool jumper and some picture frames. Sum total £15.75. "I'll put the hats on ebay" I thought.

In the hospice shop, I found myself wondering if some of the customers thought it was an actual hospice.Two wheelchair users, a man and woman, and their respective partners, cut a sorry sight. The shop manageress greeted the older couple with a welcoming familiarity. They were after a blanket for the lady in the wheelchair, to keep her legs warm. A pile of beautifully crocheted blankets sat on a table, knitted in subdued, tasteful and gradually merging  tonal shades.

The lady, who looked at least 65 said "I  don' wan' one-a them, they for grannys, in't they? I'll look like I belong in a nursing home!".
I  thought about the current resurgence in popularity these blankets are having, and how they'd fetch a pretty penny on some 'hip' city stall,  thirty-somethings snapping them up to dress their sofa.  £3 for one the size of a single quilt, £4 for a double. Very reasonable.
They left with nothing.

The second couple looked malnourished and really pathetic, they were wearing those strange padded hoodies, with mystical transfers on the back of wolves and wizards, don't know if you've been lucky enough to see these garments on show?
The manageress spoke to them in an over-familiar, prying way. I know her, I worked with her daughter a few years ago, she tested my patience, which is in pretty high supply.

Before shop she was the manageress at Mc Donalds, and raised a lot of money for charity. She has one of those union representative type personalities.

"What happened to you then, why are you in a wheelchair? It's like wheelchair club today".
Great way to break the ice.
"I'm diabetic love, feet don't work at the moment, hahahaha"
"Terrible thing, diabetes, my nan had her leg off with it". Great retort

They went on to discuss infections, hospitals, rubbish wheelchairs...
I kept getting drawn towards a  beaver lamb fur coat, which smelt of badgers, not that I'm familiar with the scent.
As I tried on the coat, transforming myself into the type of lady who gets 'taken out', I eavesdropped further on the conversation. I wish I hadn't.

"Infections - they can be very nasty. I had a terrible internal itch in my bowels awful, it was. Antibiotics didn't work, and you can't exactly scratch your bowels can you? They had  to open me up. I still wasn't better. The smell was horrendous, let me tell you, I made myself feel sick, so lord knows how my family coped. I got in the bath one day, the water was brown in minutes, it was." My partner used to sponge me down, but he began retch".

She glanced over, and changed the subject.
 "That coat looks stunning, doesn't it? Real beaver, it is 1930's" (sheepskin, possibly early 1960's).
The couple agreed it looked nice, and seemed  to accept wearing a 1930's beaver was perfectly acceptable. Caught up in my little fantasy, I bought it, £10, way over my usual spend allowance.

As I paid, I decided to show her my hat collection, "ooh, what a bargain, REAL mink!"
I looked again. It was real.
Oh dear, how many dead animals was I willing to take home? I really hadn't thought about it.

You can't really argue that "it's already been killed, so it's ok - second hand" can you?
It's still glamorising fur. Is it ok if you're a meat eater and the fur is a by-product of the food chain?

I won't be wearing the mink hat, that's for sure. The smelly coat? What do you think?

As for bowel stories, as much as I love toilet humour, the brown bath tale even had me feeling a bit sick.

ready for bed in tartan p.j's and beaver

Ebay? Keep?

Ebay? Or pet sematary?


  1. Far out, I'm glad I'm lost in my own world most of the time, I would have retched if I'd have heard that first hand!!! I have to say I'm a fan of fur personally, it's warm, cuddly and luxe-feeling, but then we have lots of furry pests here that need exterminating. Not seals tho, no, excepted due to cuteness factor. Probably taste good tho?! You look lovely in that coat x

  2. Thanks alot Lucy! I was actually eating my lunch while I was reading this. Note I said: was. Ewwwwww!

    And I'm not sure I'd take the approval of that couple as a good thing.... Only joking, the coat really suits you and it should be lovely and cosy if you decide to keep it.


  3. the coat looks properly glamourous and must be kept and flaunted, i insist ... although back in the sixties, when i was young and virginal, i thought the painted ladies wearing similar coats and standing in shadowy shop doorways down the tottenham court road on saturday nights were waiting for buses

  4. Yep the coat is smashing - a keeper. You look very glam in it - PJ's and all. :) The hats? eBay - but I don't ever wear hats so what do I know.

    I also agree the charity shops are full of interesting things at the moment. During summer it was a waste of time going in them but now there is always something that MUST be bought.

  5. Our opshop goers must be very tame compared to yours lol what with the tales you and Scarlett come up with.
    The coat does suit you but some people can get nasty about furs wven old ones.
    Am sure you will work out what to do with them all.

  6. My mother had a collection of fur coats from the 1950's, when she was 'single and sophisticated' - several she referred to as 'good' - and one which she called 'Musquash' - which I as a child associated with roadkill. During the late 70's when we were broke and the needs of a family were more important than style - she made them into everything from hats to blankets, bolsters and eventually - by sewing two together - a very effective jacket to insulate the hot water tank. It was after she had sold the house that she realised it had been left behind, on the tank. She sold it to one of the local Rockabilly enthusiasts.. I often wonder what he must have thought of the mad woman who insulates her pipes with mink.

  7. This post is ripe for double entedre comments, but I shall resist.

    I reckon Wales has some of the best charity shops going. We had a Seventies party once and our guests all had to do a quick tour of Haverfordwest charity shops with a budget of £5 each. We hit a rich seam, said one ash she entered in a perfectly flowing 'margo frock', her husband in enormous flares - the others were much the same.

    By the way, are you doing NaBloPoMo - do you know what it is? You should give it a go - see my blog for links of just google it

  8. I remember little Red and little Mr Charming being placated when I told them that a fox scarf, complete with teeny liitle feet and head that I had bought, God knows why, had died naturally. Of course it wasn't killed for its fur! I lied. Placated, but not taken in.
    I love fur - 40 million Siberians can't be wrong....;D

    K xx

  9. You look very glam in the brown coat - I'm confused though, did you say it is beaver or isn't? Doesn't look like sheepskin in the pic. I'm one of these people who will happily wear leather and sheepskin but doesn't wear fur (except when I was in Moscow, and HAD to wear full length beaver at the insistence of my friend's grandmother, who was scandalized by my leopard fun fur and decided I would immediately die if I only had that between myself and the elements. She was right).

    I think Dannii Minogue used to have that blue hat, teamed with the chaps, in her style wilderness days. You may carry it off better though. Every old lady who went to chapel on my street (before they turned it into flats) had the hamster-y one.

  10. Not sure about ‘real’ fur these days, but I’ve worn fake in the past. Having sad that, when I was a child, some distant relative sent me a cute little furry neck tie (not sure what else to call it) which was a complete animal, It was white, and had its cute litle head still attached :)

    That charity shop manageress sounds loathsome. I’d tell her to mind her own business!

  11. Hello Lucy:
    Well, you would not have a second thought about keeping the fur coat if you lived in Hungary or visited in the winter. With temperatures falling regularly to -15 a fur coat is really the only way to stay warm. We think that it looks very stylish and so good on you. Perhaps not with plaid pyjamas though!

  12. Don't worry, beaver lamb is sheepskin treated to look like fur so you are right, it looks like sheepskin because it is. I have a 1930s one and I was so glad of it last winter.
    I don't wear fur but when I've been given it I find it sells well on eBay.
    Charity shops, you definitely see all of life in them. I hate overhearing medical complaints but the old 'uns relish all the gory details, don't they?
    There's some great stuff in ours at the moment, racks of sequins and sparkle saved all year round ready for the run up to Xmas. x

  13. I hadn't twigged that charity shop stock might improve as the boot sales stop, so thanks for that useful tip!
    I think you look most take-outable in your coat, so if you can do anything about the smell, it's a keeper! Vix is right though, real fur certainly seems to be having a resurgence, there's lots on Ebay, and racks of fur coats at the flea market I go to. Can't do the real thing myself, though I'm ashamed to say I rather like stroking them in passing... (Please, no beaver jokes at this point!)
    God, that brown bath image is not one I want to stay with me for very long, yuk!
    PS. More photos of you, please, LOOK how stunning you are, Lucy!

  14. "As for bowel stories, as much as I love toilet humour, the brown bath tale even had me feeling a bit sick."

    Yup. Me too! I pride myself on how unshockable about these things I am, but that ran me close.

    Nice coat! I have a coat fetish myself at the moment. Yesterday in BHF I briefly tried on a cord jacket and a linen jacket and a leather jacket, one after the other - I returned them grumpily to their hangers. I need to find the perfect piece of clothing or nothing. Sadly it is all too often nothing. Not literally, of course, that would be wrong!

    Oh and those mystical printed padded hoodies. Thousands upon thousands of them up here. I know exactly what you mean about them, they are horrid. The one in my head has a totem pole and an eagle perching at the top of it. Maybe I should just give up my hunt for mysterious and arty clothes and just embrace the Mystical Hoodie.

  15. Another classic story. I shall have to tell my husband that one! He will grunt in response.

    Keep the jacket but make sure you store it properly. I had some classic 60s (horse, bear, beaver?)boots bought from Amsterdam markets, came back home to Australia and threw them in my closet. A couple of years later went to get them and there was virtually nothing left except for a couple of hundred maggots chewing quite happily away!

    My sister always tells an unfortunate story (but one we have to laugh at I am afraid) She was working on a ward in a hospital (admin and hating it) Opposite her was a lady who had had her leg amputated..diabetes. However, she also had dementia. She had no idea there was no leg there. She tried repeatedly to get out of bed and walk, my sister always yelling to her "You have no leg!" (My sister wasn't even allowed to do that as she was admin). The poor love repeatedly fell over. This went on quite a time and became quite Monty Pythonish.

    Oh dear, what shall become of me in my old age!

  16. NO thank you, I do not like toilet stories. Neither do I like stories about bottoms or lavatories.
    But I do love stories about human nature. Listening in to the conversation of others is my favourite occupation. I must try charity shops more often, you meet all human life there. obviously.

  17. Crikey! Is your charity shop ina suburb of Ankh Morpork? Can you buy a rat-onna-stick there?
    I sympathise with the sparkling conversation overheard though: At my sister's gorgeous wedding in beautiful surroundings about six weeks ago, my rather unpleasant grandmother said loudly and obliviously to the assembled throng "I 'ad terrible dye-rill on Tuesday. Dint know if I would be able to come today!" (said in broad Bristolian). In our old age, I hope we shall retain both tact and all our marbles.

  18. That conversation NO!!!!! Why do old folks talk such vile trash about their bodies, enough already, it's like having a conversation with my Dad!

    I'm so happy you found time for a little retail therapy. I love the jacket on you how glamorously warm and cozy it could be this winter. I say keep both hats this season and see how you feel next year. I think that mink hat would look beautiful on you!!!! Plus those minks are some mean nasty critters, my Dad grew up on a mink farm and the stories he told!

  19. I'm not keen on fur - it just doesn't sit well with me, although it does look incredibly glamourous.

    What is it with the older generation - tight lipped money or on all matters emotional but get them started on health issues and they're well away with very graphic descriptions! Lol

    Jem xXx

  20. Thanks for all the comments which were either flattering or hilarious on the whole!

    Maybe recounting the bowel conversation was a step too far - I'll keep it clean next time.

    Charity shops, doctors waiting rooms, bus stations and corner shops are my favourite people-watching settings.

    When I was a waitress, I spent most of my shift eavesdropping. I overheard one guy say "I think that waitress is slightly special needs. She doesn't seem to realise it's rude to stare".

  21. I used to slouch around College in an old fur coat of my Gran's, and no-one minded then. But I never could find the good stuff in charity shops - it takes a special kind of eye I think, it sounds like you have it :)

  22. I don't know why, but it appears to me that u intend to hint at the need of saving wild life.

  23. I love all kind of fur coats keep the fur coats amor especially the pet cementary one. no more old folks yuck talk,lol
    gracias for your funny commnet!
    I went into a coughing spell of laughter.

  24. Man its always interesting the chat you hear in charity shops! Hmm I'm of the 'if its second hand fur its ok' opinion, but I can totally understand people that say no way no matter what. The coat is gorge! :)

  25. bahaha - got to love the CS for crazy conversations and people, the hospice shop here is my fave for those. Great coat on you, so glam and minxy ;o) Scarlett x

  26. That bowel story had me dry retching and laughing infront of my computer all at the same time, it's amazing what people will disclose about themselves in charity shops! I've overheard some of the funniest conversations in the dressing rooms of charity shops! Those crochet blankest sound amazing, if I lived in the area I'd totally be picking up one or two of those babies. I have a complete obsession with woolly, crochet blankets but only own one! I love your coat, you look amazing! How did your meal out go? I can totally relate to how you were feeling. I'm inspired that you go running 5 times a week, that's fantastic! I've fallen off the healthy eating wagon a few times since March, but I realised that it was ok to fall off the wagon, so I just got back on it again and carried on... It's sad how hard we can be on ourselves isn't it? Em x

  27. Train trips are good for other people's conversations, too; one can always keep the eyes glued to the pages of one's book while actually listening to the really bizarre monologues and dialogues going on in close proximity.
    I'll be on two two-hour-rides tomorrow and am already mentally preparing myself.
    My dad does voluntary work in a charity shop several times a month. He has quite a few stories to tell, too.
    Oh, and I've found on your profile that you like 808state - I didn't think anyone remembers them!

  28. Blue Sky - I think it's time, not a special eye which leads you to find the treasure. My best advice is NEVER put something back if it catches your eye - buy it and you'll find a use for it eventually.

    Raman - maybe if that guy from the Green Mile breathed into my jacket I'd have my very own beaver lamb to look after. I'll leave the mink - Krista put me right off.

    La Dama - I looked at your wedding outfit - beautiful. You suit fur like no other, must be the vintage look you've mastered over the years.

    Faff - I was expecting far more negativity about fur with this post. Maybe the haters declined to comment? Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

    Scarlett - I still think you should write a book of your tales!

    Em - If I had taken the car shopping I would have picked up all those blankets.
    We all fall off the wagon with healthy eating, but a 20/80 approach tends to work (80% good food by the way!).

    Librarian - I took a train into the city last night and was disappointed at the lack of people watching fun to be had. Libraries, book shops, music shops, markets and airports are also great. And parks, car boot sales, doctors surgeries - the list is not exhaustive.
    808 State - been obsessed since they hit the scene, stangely, Pacific State was playing in the nightclub next to the restaurant I dined at last night. I so wanted to go in and listen to it, my friend was mortified at the suggestion.
    Thank you for the comment.


  29. Hello beautiful! I actually secretly love it when people talk about their health straightaway to anybody. The jacket is an amazing find! Thanks for always writing a post with a wryness that cheers me! xxx

  30. Have you ever sold on eBay? Quite addictive after a smattering of success. 'Specially if you're already a regular spectre at the charity shops ...

  31. Hi Suze,
    I have sold a few items, and made the biggest profit on the seemingly undesirable items, I think this is the case for a lot of sellers?
    I'm seriously considering trying to sell more once my youngest son starts school. My sister-in-law sells regularly, and has had a few unpleasant experiences, but, for now, it sure beats getting a job!
    Thank-you for commenting.

  32. Re your comment on britannica nature books - nothing to do with this post. Yes, absolutely - they are the sort of book you will keep for years and years - but most people would want a pocket guide too. Field guides are cheap and easily available but less of a 'present' than the encyclopaedic guides I was writing about.

  33. Absulutely superb. I once listened in to an old deaf chap telling how his viagra only 'half worked'. Priceless!

  34. The beaver lamb coat looks great on you. They're really warm - I have a couple of (men's) BL coats from the 1980s. Unfortunately they don't make them any more. Most people don't realise that they are sheared, dyed and sealed lambskin.


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