Second Chance: November

Germander's November verses from her hosting at Second Chance, and some of the stories and photos behind them, are displayed here.

Scroll down to see them all:
- The Steamer at Second Chance
- Book Titles Browsed at Second Chance
- Seasons Seen at Second Chance
- Second Chance's Second Chances at Second Chance
- Tested and Ticketed: Appliances, Devices and Diversions
at Second Chance

The Steamer at Second Chance

The Steamer at Second Chance

This piece is for the staff, and is displayed downstairs, next to its subject - the steamer.

If, like me, you've ever wondered why clothes at most charity shops smell fresh and appear washed, and you wonder how they do it - this is how: the steamer is a machine which looks something like a large vacuum cleaner, but has a base full of boiling water with some fabric conditioner mixed in, and from its nozzle comes a constant spray of sweet-smelling steam. With this apparatus, clothes can be 'steamed' upright on their rail, and it only takes a minute or two to do each garment. It's very effective, and interestingly, many people enjoy this job and find it quite satisfying and relaxing to spend a few hours just working through racks of clothes.

If you try to read this piece out loud, you'll find that it's an extended tongue-twister - it's meant to be fun and to elicit a knowing laugh from the users of the steamer!

Book Titles Browsed in Second Chance

Book Titles Browsed in Second Chance

This piece is a list of titles of books found amongst the shop's stock. I've been collecting book titles for a few weeks, with the help of the two volunteers who look after the books, but then quickly had to assemble my list into the above piece when I heard that the window needed to be filled with a book display this week.

Some of the above are genuinely quaint and charming old books; some are modern books with deliberately curious titles, and some are modern books with innocently curious titles, e.g. Birding in Lesbos, which is about birdwatching on the Greek Island of Lesbos. I also found a lot of books about books themselves, and books with titles starting with 'The Book of........'

This piece is now on display in the window, and directly below it are many of the books mentioned in the piece, so I am hoping people will read it and then look below and see the connection. It was also my job this week to assemble the whole window display. However, this is an endless job - as soon as something gets sold, you need to replace it with something else suitable, and if it's an important part of the display, you need to re-organise and re-think the whole display structure. Inevitably, some of the books included in my piece will probably soon get sold, so the visual connections will be lost. I am therefore preparing another, differently focused piece for the book window...

Below are photos of some of my favourite book findings:

Pokings Round the Pole - cover
Musical Drill for Infants - cover

Above: The Giant of the North, or Pokings Round the Pole, and Musical Drill for Infants

Book Display in window

Above: the centre of the book display, featuring many of the titles mentioned in the piece displayed above them.

Window-dressing with macabre mannequin

Above: setting up the new window display, which necessitated moving this ex-automaton (which is sadly, but understandably, now sold).

The Seasons Seen in Second Chance

The Seasons Seen in Second Chance

You can work out the season, the month, and probably also the prevailing weather, simply from what the shop is stocking, displaying in its windows, and collecting in its storerooms downstairs.

I’ve been fascinated by how the shop responds to the changes in season, weather, and customers’ interests and needs at different times of year, and also how the shop is always thinking ahead to everything that will happening over the next six months or longer.

This piece was initially inspired by one particular week at the end of September, when suddenly the stock was changed from summer to autumn. All the long winter boots were brought up and displayed in the window; the long coats that had been in store since spring and summer were brought out, and all the hat and scarf displays were changed over from the summer to the winter stock. But I’ve been especially interested in the subtleties - for example, at that time the manager was pointing out that it was too early to bring up the ‘furry stuff’, and that there was little point in leaving the white linen trousers on display any longer. Now that it’s November, the ‘fluffy stuff’ is coming up, and the football scarves, Tottenham Hotspur curtains (true!) and ice skates are also being put out for sale.

I was interested to observe that summer and winter scarves differ not just in materials, but in the type of patterns (which are partly dictated by the materials) - while summer scarves are often very pictorial, winter scarves tend to be in solid colours and geometric patterns.

Second Chance is very lucky in that it has a large basement so that it can store a certain amount of stock until the right event or season. It even has a special storeroom in which they collect stock for themed window displays - by looking at what’s hanging on the rail and gathering on the shelves, you call tell the time of year and what the next seasonal event is. For example, in October, the rail was hung with orange garments, waiting for the Halloween/harvest display.

In that same room are boxes for the next Valentine’s Day, St Patrick's Day, and Easter displays - full of items which are not only thematic, but in the colours of those themes, e.g. all pink/red for Valentine's, green for St Patrick's, and yellow for Easter. Christmas has a whole room to itself, as well as spreading throughout the other storage areas over the autumn.

But it was in the book storeroom that I was delighted to come across the first real sign of spring - a box of gardening books, with a label instructing to keep them for spring 2013.

Easter box
St Patrick's box
Santa in plastic

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