This morning I was at a recycling centre. Basically it’s a tip but they try to repurpose the stuff you drop. The van was full of mdf flooring that nobody we were able to find had a direct need for. It was heavy, and weight is money. I was paid to take it to a dump and pile it up. Almost £140 it cost my client, just to drop the stuff there based on weight, and not  counting my labour. They weigh your van going in and again coming out. You pay the difference.

They might well sell that flooring to someone. There must be people with business relationships with the dump. It’s branded as a recycling centre. It’s right next to a great big heavily branded prop store for my industry. Amazing.  That makes so much sense. It must have been going on for decades…

Say I’m making a film. I need a 1980’s household orange juicer for a scene, filming tomorrow. You can’t buy them on eBay, even though they’re everywhere. The job of finding it goes to a clueless production runner. Everyone else is dealing with other things. Nobody knows to ask Mrs Gabberney of 12 The Orchards, Penge for her one until the son throws it into a yellow skip after she’s gone.

These prop store guys fished it out of a skip years ago. They rent it to the runner. You can find the prop store online, and they’ve got a huge great branded warehouse right by the tip, full of “authentic period props”. So for loadsamoney per day you get your period perfect scene critical juicer. Plus you lose your absurd deposit when the actor drops it on the first take and dents it, even though they’ll just buff the thing out and rent it again. These people notoriously take you for everything you’re worth. They understand supply and demand, but lack empathy. They price the same for Annie Leibowitz as they do for The Finborough. They could probably teach me a thing or two about pricing themselves…


They must swing by the dump every day, from their neighbouring prop warehouse. “Anything new Harvey?” “Just the usual crap. Bunch of kitchen stuff. Take what you like. We’ll do it by weight. That’ll be £3.12.” AUTHENTIC 1980’s LEMON JUICER. THIS IS THE REAL DEAL. ONLY immortal soul PER DAY!!!

I left all the mdf in a neat pile, thinking someone might want it. It’s better it goes to use somewhere than to landfill.  But those props guys have got me thinking… I’ve got way too much crap. Maybe there’s a way to rationalise it and not be a dick about it. Just yesterday I saw someone asking to rent “random mystic  crap.” I’ve got that in spades,

We got talking to the man that works there. The sun is shining, so everyone is talking to strangers. “I used to have a van like that,” he says. “You can get all sorts. You wouldn’t believe what people throw away.” He illustrates with 200 cases of Budweiser. All in date. The American Embassy was moving and they didn’t have room or infrastructure or whatever, so some poor intern was employed to drive the surplus to the dump, and they took the job literally. “Dump the beer boss? Sure boss. Here’s my receipt boss. Didn’t keep nothing for myself boss. All done properly boss. Promotion, boss?”

I ask the question: “Are you allowed to take stuff out of here yourself”

“No no, it’s against regulations. But when I was driving a van … I’ve got a suit of armour at home, and all sorts. And a sword? I got a sword yesterday.” This man has a family, and kids. His house is likely to be completely full of random shit – (plus Budweiser I expect!). One day he’ll die and his estate will employ someone to take all the stuff he lovingly preserved from the dump, and … dump it again. The circle of junk. It happened to the contents of the house I grew up in, and I still feel the pull of some of it. It happened to my uncle’s old home in Scotland. All into skips. I’m off to Jersey to finish sorting my other uncle’s stuff in March. I can hopefully repurpose a lot of it. We will see.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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