I stumble into the charity shop, laden with shopping bags. And wait to be showered with gratitude. The young female assistant looks at me in horror. ‘Books! I’m telling you now, we don’t want any more books.’
I lovingly take her through the fashion catalogues, the recipe books and the French novels. ‘Surely someone doing their A-levels would love a copy of Les Liaisons Dangereuses?’ I plead.
‘We’ll just bin them,’ she tells me brutally. Which is how I find myself laying out the arty coffee table books on the grass outside, hoping passers-by will pick them up.
When did charity shops get so snooty? It’s worse than a trip to Bond Street. Friends talk of being sent packing when they try to donate a mirror or a much-loved lamp. One colleague turned up with her late mother’s collection of antique dining chairs. ‘Urgh, brown furniture,’ groaned the assistant.
The trouble is that our generation, brought up by ‘make do and mend’ parents, hate waste. We believe in conserving and recycling.
We spent years working hard to buy a sofa, so when we finally get the chance to upgrade (moving after a promotion, say), we want it to go to a good owner.
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But millennials don’t go gaga for yellowing books and chipped ornaments; and they openly sneer at the velvet jacket we wore so proudly to the university disco.
No wonder charity shop staff lock the door when they see eager fifty-somethings queuing with their ‘treasures’. Staff at Sue Ryder shops in Oxfordshire have begged locals not to leave microwaves and bed frames outside on the pavement.
But please dear millennials tread carefully on our dreams. The irony isn’t lost on us that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating this stuff — and the second half trying to get rid of it.
© Daily Mail