Posted in Personal life

The Joy of Jumble

A depiction of a white elephant in 19th centur...
“Can any of you chaps tell me the way to the white elephant sale, please?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever I come back from holiday, I always have the urge to declutter my house. It’s a side-effect of holidaying in a camper van with nothing but the bare essentials.

So I was pleased to discover that in Hawkesbury Upton this September there’ll be two opportunities to put my discarded items to good use: Beauty & the Beasts’ Table Top Sale (21st) and the Guides’ Jumble Sale (28th).

(Translation for my North American friends: I think you’d call a Jumble Sale a Rummage Sale – like a yard sale, held in a local community or village hall, putting everybody’s unwanted clutter and junk up for sale, usually in aid of charity. For Australasian friends, it’s a white elephant sale.)

Actually, I love this kind of event at any time of year, even though we always end up buying far more clutter than we’ve donated. A few years ago, I feared that jumble sales were becoming an endangered species. Before the national economy took a nose-dive, most people could afford to buy anything they wanted brand new, and the new household recycling boxes also made it easier to discard items rather than donate them. So why bother with jumble sales?

As we all know, times have changed. Never mind Nick Clegg’s dream of a John Lewis economy* – what we’ve got now is more of a Jumble Sale economy. (*Sorry again, my international friends: this is a reference to a British politician’s speech, citing a reference to a British chain of department stores. Further help for deciphering the reference is here.)

But I don’t mind. It’s much more exciting to trawl through a jumble sale than predictable high street shops. For a start you never know what you might find, especially in Hawkesbury. Our village yields a high class of jumble!

postage stamp from Queen's Silver Jubilee, 1977
“No, I don’t want your tatty old flag, I don’t care where you found it!”

To me, jumble sale shopping feels a bit like metal-detecting: most of what you find may be worthless, but there’s always the prospect of real treasure. But, unlike metal-detecting, in jumble sale shopping there’s no Treasure Trove Law requiring you to surrender your best finds to the Queen – for which I’m sure HRH is truly grateful!

For more thoughts about decluttering, try these posts:

The Joy of a Tidy Car   A Study in Tidiness

This post was originally published in the Hawkesbury Parish News, September 2013.