Second Chance: October
Germander's verses written in October during her hosting at Second Chance are displayed below, together with some of the stories behind them - written at the time as a blog.
This is a list of things which are either made in, refer to, or illustrate, different places in the world and their languages, and is an introduction to the abundance and vast variety found in the shop.
I’m always amused and fascinated by the il-logistics of global manufacture and trade – e.g. the hula dancing kit made in China.
I’m trying to be as widely observant as possible, and include not only shop stock but also things used by the shop, things found in the staff area downstairs, and things I hear. For example, in this piece I have mentioned the ancient Egyptian symbol of the Eye of Horus, having seen this on a pendant worn by a member of staff, and I’ve mentioned a song heard on the radio, and a bit of banter between regulars.
The final lines came to me as I was helping to set up a new window display of winter boots – we had to stuff dozens and dozens of pairs of long boots with newspaper to make them stand up by themselves, and I found myself scrunching up an interesting photo centre-spread on modern-day Berlin for this purpose. (In case you hadn't noticed, the last line is meant to be in the shape of a boot...)
Wildlife Surveyed in Second Chance
Instructions Observed in Second Chance
Above: the steamer, the fire extinguisher, and the sponge 'squirrels' (the red things)
This pair of pieces have been placed in the two changing cubicles, with the idea that people will at first think they are reading a notice, and then slowly latch on to what they actually are, hopefully seeing the humour...
It's a list of instructions from all different sources found around the shop - many of which are a little curious or amusing when taken out of context. I got the idea from the wording on the steamer (the machine used to air-iron clothes with steam) - 'DO NOT KINK HOSE'. 'Kink' is an unusual although accurate word choice, which gives this phrase its charm. I went on to search clothes washing labels, other notices and appliances around the shop, and toy and game instructions for the rest. Of particular interest was a sheet of guidelines for charity shops, listing what luxury labels to look out for, and detailed information on how to spot fakes; and a magic trick set, which included amongst its props a set of what they called 'sponge squirrels'.
The World Observed in Second Chance
My idea to search the shop for wildlife was probably influenced by having carried out an in-depth natural history survey elsewhere recently; however this ‘survey’ is considerably less technically correct, being simply a list of animal references and representations found in the shop. At the end, however, there is one real wildlife sighting in its natural setting – a pigeon passing the window.
For this piece I had to look at the sorts of things I would normally blank out and ignore, such as ceramic ornaments and children’s toys, but in seeking these out and trying to describe them, found humour and charm in many of them. Especially the plastic duck bathtub radio – the shop’s electrician was testing it in the sink for its ability to float while transmitting radio broadcasts at high volume, when the song Eye of the Tiger came on – I was looking for animal references, and here found two together in a rather surreal combination.
I also learnt while checking my facts for this piece, that the correct term for a group of cygnets is a ‘clutch’.
I’ve been reading my drafts to shop staff and volunteers, who have been giving me very useful feedback – suggesting additions, and helping me identify which phrases are unclear or which bits need work. For this piece I must credit the erudite gentleman who sorts and prices the books, as when I showed him that I was trying to shape the verses to look like flying birds, he suggested putting the first ‘A’ of each verse on a separate line, to suggest a head – it turned out to be a great idea.
I must admit a major omission in this piece however – there are regular sightings of domestic wildlife in the shop, in the form of customers' pet dogs. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that they are not only permitted inside, but are actively welcomed by staff – this is just one of the friendly and good-spirited aspects of this shop.