Alas, poor Freecycle. No one wants my broken telly, but they aren’t too shy to ask for a non-broken one.
The Freecycle Yahoo group works on a charmingly simple principle: Person A has some crap they will have to put in a skip; Person B would clamber into the skip if they knew where it was because that crap is exactly what they need; Magical Internet C circumvents both skip and clambering, and the crap of the world is recycled. Hurrah!
That’s how it used to work, anyway. There are still noble souls providing everything from the prosaic bookshelves, bedheads and baby clothes to ’12 slim maternity pads from Mothercare (unused)’. There’s even a nice-sounding lady terribly keen not to let a ‘half-used can of squirty cream’ go to waste. (There’s a subtext in there somewhere.) But one couple just moving into their new home have requested ‘*Dining table & chairs (4-6 pref)*Toaster*Kettle*Coffee table*Microwave*Wardrobe (pref flatpacked due to narrow stairs!!)*Small under-counter freezer*Most kitchen stuff minus pots & pans*Curtains*Lamps.’ Apparently I was mistaken about that principle: actually it’s ‘Please deliver your skip of crap to my house, and come to think of it I’d rather nothing in it was crap, and you can make me a cup of tea while you’re at it, two sugars, where’s my biscuit?’ Except without the ‘Please’.
The ‘we’ve just moved house’ handwringing is the crucial change here, though. It’s not enough these days to simply post a mild bit of begging: an X Factor-style ‘I’m doing it for me dead mum, Sharon’ is the only way to ensure only quality crap comes your way. That’s how I know that C wants some size 10 clothes for her young daughter, whose weight problem is preventing her from buying childrenswear; that L’s asking for a Christmas Tree outfit for an 8-month-old because her husband’s in Iraq and she’d like to send him a photo; that ‘Wanted: To see my son’ is in fact a plea for a bicycle to help a newly-separated dad travel to see his toddler. TMI. It’s like online dating, except the punters hope the fleeting attention of strangers will lead not to romance, but some shelves. I blame Facebook. Web 2.0 really has eaten that supposed British reticence, hasn’t it?
(And if I sound unsympathetic, do bear in mind that a suitable bike, clothes and enough kitchenware to restock Ikea were ‘offered’ on the site during the week, if the ‘wanted’ crowd could have been arsed to look.)
Margery Allingham’s Look to the Lady. ‘My dear fellow,’ said Mr Campion with affable idiocy, ‘I have buttered my bun and now I must lie on it. And you, my beautiful, will stand meekly by.’ Like a cup of tea and a hug, in paperback.
The Editathon is over! Apart from the last three pages. They aren’t important, are they? I have (re)discovered that I like editing books the least of all the writerish things there are, which means I feel quite skippy and gleeful at the prospect of writing something fresh and new. Presumably this is how things are supposed to work.