10
Dec
2009

Christmas Shopping in Skips

My story begins with an ill fated detour through Soho; a mistake that led my friend and I to find ourselves on Oxford Street. On a Saturday. After a moment of shared fear, we decided to man up and do some Christmas shopping – since we were there. Mistake number two.

Within approximately seven minutes, the palpitations began. I became aware of the hundreds of people and the fact that there appeared to be an unofficial one-way system in operation. And we were on the wrong side of the street.

Since this day, I vowed never to return and to find alternative methods of Christmas shopping. Preferably involving no people, novelty hats or public transport – this criteria mainly stems from a recent bus journey where I was violated by a roll of wrapping paper in a most unholy way. The novelty hats are included simply because I find them ridiculous. Walking home after said violation, I started thinking how I could subdue my resentment of Christmas shopping enough to actually do some. And then of course there’s the small issue of the sad state of affairs that is my bank balance after working unpaid in London for six months.

And then it happened.

Like the Christmas star over the manger, a flickering street light shone into an open skip on my street. I suddenly remembered a conversation I’d had with someone who said she found an amazing Art Deco mirror in a skip. Granted it was in Primrose Hill not Holloway, where you’re more likely to just find suspiciously stained furniture. But the idea of finding a hidden gem, buried under a mattress, mine for the taking, was just too tempting to pass up.

I slowed my pace to surreptitiously look inside. Maybe I’d find a nice art print.

Something moved in the darkness. It seemed someone else was doing some hunter-gathering;  except they fell into the rodent category as opposed to impoverished daughter who will be impaled, like a less-than-glamorous Christmas angel atop a tree, if I return home empty handed.  Suffice to say I soon conceded this was not a viable shopping option.

Yet, despite the likelihood of developing a death rattle worthy of Tiny Tim due to inhalation of potential asbestos, I still find myself glancing into skips, just in case. While I realise my brief foray into skip-shopping was mildly disturbing, I feel it demonstrated my commitment/desperation to finding the perfect (free) gift.  I assure you (or anyone expecting a present from me this year) I’ve never found anything worthwhile. But as C-Day gets closer, I can’t help but remember the old adage that one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure…or Christmas present.

And to all skip owners out there, padlocks do not deter me – they just make me think you’ve got something in there that I want. Or perhaps my Grandma might want. Wrapped in a bow and put under the Christmas tree. Which I’m hoping will also be coming to a skip near me soon.

Image by Brockvicky courtesy of Flickr