Husband and I have recently had cause to have a clear-out. Why? Because our work here in the UK is done. For a while at least. Or maybe forever, who knows. But one thing’s for sure: in 6 weeks time, we’ll be riding on a one-way plane ticket to Seoul about to embark on a South Korean episode lasting a minimum of 12 months.
From my research into where we’ll be based – Gangwon-do in the north-east of the country – our lives will involve beaches (diving, surfing, sea-turtles), mountains (hiking, snowboarding) and ferries to Russia and Japan. And, in a quirky display of phallic-inspired pageantry, an entire park dedicated to showcasing nothing but statues in the form of male genitalia. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a link: Haesingdan Park, South Korea.
Heading East to Korea’s north-east means we’ll have little need for quite a lot of our stuff. This in turn means sorting it out. First thing to be tackled: our bedroom. This was a huge task made larger by my hoarder-esque tendencies.
Imagine 6 Years-Worth of Life in the Cartoon Palace crammed into its many storage areas, wardrobes and cupboards. Imagine also the infinite empty promises throughout the years when faced with said Life that “I really will have to do something about this”. And imagine, if you will, what the inside of a Salvation Army clothing bin of the ilk you find in the Recycling areas of supermarket car-parks looks like. Then blend these images into a kaleidoscopic wonder of old clothes and junk, picture Husband and I as those trash-loving dump-dwellers that The Labyrinth’s Sarah comes across post-Goblin Masquerade, and that is pretty much the scene. Constructively, most of our stuff was bound for one of our many local charity shops, making the whole ordeal feel a little more constructive.
Charity shops are brilliant places and I am proud to say that for many years I have endorsed them as a buyer, a donator and a volunteer. I have bought some absolute rubbish (e.g. ‘genuine’ African decorative slate featuring genetically mutated giraffes which hung on my wall for years), found some absolute diamonds (unused Bodum cafetiere; my entire wardrobe of man-made fibre shirts) and have in my own way contributed towards someone else’s buying of shite and finding of gems. Which is why each time there’s a Cartoon Palace clear-out, there’s a bag for trash and a bag for charity.
But this was a clear-out like no other. The decimation of our material possessions forced me to look beyond my usual 2-bags-to-the-PDSA-twice-a-year.
A ruthless cull of general ‘bric-a-brac’ yielded 6 bags-worth, so immediately I was over my annual average by quite a bit. Donated to Lothian Cat Rescue, I’m sad to say I’ve walked by their shop several times since making delivery and I can’t see any of our goods in the window. I’m assuming everything we donated went like hotcakes.
It soon became clear, however, that our charitable clothing donation was in an altogether different league. This amount of gear (in excess of 20 bin-bags) was going to be too much for a regular charity shop and their standard still-sprightly-at-seventy volunteers to handle. No, we needed to head for something larger. A warehouse. A big one. And where else but Cash-4-Clothes? Frequented by a fairly colourful cross-section of society (including, as of last Friday, us) but ultimately an asset to the international charity circuit, they take receipt of your unwanted clothing, pay you, and then fly it all out to Africa and Asia where your good-quality garments go to people who need them.
When we pulled up to the Cash-4-Clothes warehouse in our transit van (not a word of a lie because remember, we sold the car ) the geezer on shift was visibly shaken, not by the arrival on his premises of Leith’s version of Del Boy and Rodney, but by the sheer volume of stuff. Helpfully, my Inner Pikey kept him right with the weighing and calculating (it had to be done in batches as the industrial-sized scales were too small to do it in a oner) and ten minutes later we sailed out of there £24 richer. The going rate for used clothing, it seems, is 50p a kilo. No wonder we needed a bloody van!
I think we can all agree that everyone involved in this transaction was a winner: us (£24!), the Cartoon Palace (palatial once more), the charity (more clothes than can fill their warehouse) and the township lucky enough to receive my old Ted Baker dresses and Husband’s designer waterproof golf trousers. Essential wear for the plains of Africa.
So to everyone who doesn’t already do so, I say to you: Recycle! It’s the only way! And if helping the World and all who live in it isn’t enough of an incentive, it turns out you can actually be paid for it.