As January ends, so do the sales. All that remains are assorted oddments that you find yourself asking, “Who on earth is going to buy that?”. The answer to that question is me. If it’s useless, aesthetically unappealing and/or generally grotesque, I’ll buy it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say, and I literally do treasure trash.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always liked the things that others reject. Not so much out of pretentiousness but more out of questionable taste. As a child, when others clung on to cute toys, I carried around a Disney Quasimodo puppet with pride. As an adult, while many aspire to cool interior design, I’m envious of anyone who owns a lamp that is either shaped like a poodle or a nude model with a strategically placed switch. My taste in décor could not be more low brow.
I ‘blame’ most of my unusual likes on my hometown of Brighton and its quirky shopping areas. One of Brighton’s most iconic shops is Snooper’s Paradise – a flea-market that is the stuff of hipsters’ dream. My teenage wardrobe was bought from the emo stall (complete with pink-fur covered changing room) but the other sellers grew my interest in all things kitsch and vintage.
If it wasn’t for Snooper’s Paradise, where else would I have started my love affair with 1970s Christmas wrapping or began imagining where the giant light-up Haribo boy head (albeit for display only) would fit in my room? Of course, I discovered many of my odd finds at car boot sales and charity shops but Brighton made second-hand odds and sods cool.
That’s not to say I’ll only buy used goods when they’re “cool”. Despite my hometown’s thriving pre-loved clothing scene, I’m seldom bothered with vintage fashion. My taste is more shabby than shabby chic. I don’t collect things out of the anti-cool irony – I genuinely like them (for inexplicable reasons).
As I look around my room where I write this, I can see an Orville mask, googly-eyed shells, a Howard the Halifax man money box and a creepy Cinderella with eyes as big as a 70s Blythe doll. All cheap and nasty. All loved by me. One of my favourite pieces of tat is a plastic baby pink elephant cradling a tumbler for toothbrushes. It’s beautiful.
I am aware that my taste is a little odd, hence why I’m writing this blog but it’s always been a part of me that I refuse to refine. Sometimes I wonder if I’m attracted to objects out of a love for the underdog, as if I knew that the Nutty Owl (literally some nuts glued together to vaguely resemble an owl) was destined for the bin if I hadn’t rescued it. I remember buying a handmade felt lion in Oxfam, and having the charity shop volunteer refuse to let me pay when its fur moulted as I placed it by the till. She would rather have disposed of it than had me pay (My generous nature meant I did make a donation anyway). Little did she know, it would later feature on Twitter’s Charity Shop Shit, and remain loved for years.
— CharityShopShit (@CharityShopShit) June 19, 2013
Although I’m sure I’ve saved items from the skip, I know that I can’t be alone in having such bad taste. Why were these items ever made if there was never a market for them originally? It can’t just be the Brighton trendies who are keeping kitsch alive, surely! There are more plastic flamingos in existence than real ones so I know people with my taste are out there – I just don’t know any of them. So lovers of the offbeat, I urge you to come forward and embrace your quirky taste. Just please don’t clear the bargain bins before I’ve had a chance to rummage through!