About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Sweet Charity By Holly Searle




One of my favourite past times is pottering about in charity shops. I adore it. The treasures I have acquired over the years make-up the Heath Robinson d├ęcor of my home.

This is a love I have had since I first felt the rattle of loose change in my pocket. I spent much of my youth in Oxfam shops looking for clothes that I couldn't find on the then less than accommodating high street. Kensington market and Flip in Covent Garden were both regular haunts of mine. There I could find original vintage clothing from the 1950's that I lusted after. The styles, prints, and availability were stunning. To find something that no one else had was heaven on earth for me.

Then Kensington market and Flip both closed. It was the end of an era. The high street was taken over by mass produced preppy styled clothing, and to counter balance my disdain for this, I remained a true advocate of jumble sales and charity shops. It was the only way to feed my wonderlust for originality. And whilst there were other less mainstream stores where items could be found, for me, the pleasure was always in the pursuit of finding something different.

The same can be said for all of the items that furnish my home. Apart from a few items, everything else is second hand. I find these items much more interesting than buying something new. To me they are simply beautiful things that give me great pleasure.

On a trip to Ireland many years ago, I went along to a local barn sale. Most of the items they had for sale I had no use for. I wandered about aimlessly until I found myself in an old disused cow shed. There sitting all alone was the most wonderful odd looking chair I had ever seen. I asked the seller how much he wanted for it. four punts he replied. I mentally squealed. That was only two pounds. I paid him quickly and carried the chair away. I was delighted. There followed much discussion about the chair, and the conclusion was drawn that it was probably made by an apprentice from some sort of fruit tree wood. A friend kindly transported it back to London for me, and it now sits in my living room, and always will.

A few years ago, I volunteered in a charity shop. The items that people disguard are truly amazing. Unwanted gifts, designer clothing, it's endless. Charity shops are the salvation of modern society as they house all of the items that people no longer need, and then re-home them with people like me who are not able to purchase them at the beginning of their life cycle.

In my local area there are three charity shops. One specialises in furniture and clothing, and one has books and general household items, and the last one is less friendly.

My passion and solidarity lies with the first two. They are run by Kathy and Chris. Over the years from Kathy's shop I have sourced clothes for Child Two, especially jeans for four pounds a pair, that would retail for over thirty. Picture frames, a gorgeous bespoke kitchen dresser, a stunningly pretty chair, and most recently a chair that left me breathless it is so beautiful.

But I like spending time in the shop that Chris oversees most of all because Chris runs it. And she, not unlike all of the items that I have found in shops like hers over the years, is priceless and original. But most of all, beacuse she is my friend.

I can't remember how our friendship began, but it did. I must have sensed she was like me, and it just developed from there. She is witty, wise and like me enjoys a chat. We have a catch up most weeks about life, love and all other pursuits.

Last week we discussed the merits of Jon Ronson's writing. I informed her that I had received a tweet from the man himself, to which Chris responded "Get out of town!!!" She said "You mean I actually know someone who has been tweeted by Jon Ronson!"

We laughed.

I get all of my books from her shop. Less than a pound for current titles that have been read by locals in the South Ealing area, and then kindly donated to this emporium of wonder.

I visited both Kathy and Chris today. I spent less than twenty pounds and walked away with two shirts, a pair of jeans, a Richard Dawkins' book, a glass heart shaped wasp catcher, a rather nice mug, and a DVD of The Clockwork Orange.

Bargains.

The pleasure for me will always be in the possible discovery of such wonderful treasures and because in charity shops, you can form friendships with remarkable women like Chris. That for me, is the cherry on the cake, and a rather priceless and rare find.

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