... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

307: Charity begins with cheap 2nd-hand sci-fi

Oxfam, I’m sure you do lots of great work n that, and your stores now look more like boutiques than charity shops; but £2.99 for a tattered old science fiction paperback is way, way, way overpriced.  You would make plenty more money if you reduced your prices.  I walked around today and saw at least ten books I would have eagerly snapped up at a more reasonable price.  And since haggling in a charity shop is the absolute height of rudeness, I walked out without spending a penny.  Moments later I ignored a Big Issue seller, stole the shoes off a homeless man, kicked a dog up the bum, and mocked a baby’s inability to talk.

Withington is legendary amongst arty, studenty, trendy types for the wealth of charity shops (and pound shops, but that’s less interesting) full of dusty bound paper, knitted rags, and strange functionless objects called video tapesBarnabus, a Christian charity helping the homeless and needy (all in the name of Christ), sells its books for 60p each or four for a pound.  Now that is cheap enough to override my healthy aversion to donating to charities with religious affiliation.  Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) “is an independent humanitarian medical aid organisation. We are committed to providing medical aid where it is most needed, regardless of race, religion, politics or gender and also to raising awareness of the plight of the people we help”.  MSF lacks religious affiliation, indulges in no proselytising, and just plain helps people; my kind of charity.

Usually Barnabus, named after an extremely early Saint who did something Christian or other (I don’t know, handing out homophobic comic books or something), is totally lacking in good books.  I went in today on the off chance, and vowed only to buy a book (even at such a low price) if I found something from my Amazon wish list.  Along comes Ringworld by Larry Niven.  And then, as if by some form of future-magic (“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” –Arthur C. Clarke), pops up three more thumb-worn paperbacks to complete the two pound: Out of Space & Time, by Clark Ashton Smith, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, and Outland by Alan Dean Foster.  I’m leaden with an indulgent orgy of speculative fiction.

There’s going to be some long reading sessions with this lot.  Not only that but the cover art of cheap print paperbacks are intriguing and appealing; pleasing to the eye, don’t you know.  I dream of my own library, filled with combustible wodges of inky paper; a leather topped desk, a roaring fire, a well-stocked humidor, and one of those old wooden globes with bottles of whisky and brandy nestled within.... erm... The End.

Smith_Out_of_Space_and_TimeFoster_Outland  Burgess_Clockwork_OrangeNiven_Ringworld

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