We got rhythm…

What a stunning day, and indeed a stunning week. Gorgeous weather, blistering sunshine…

My Small Change pot as grown a wee bit too…since my last update I’ve collected 97p, including perhaps the dirtiest and least recognisable tuppenny bit (who still uses that phrase that isn’t also able to describe rationing or thought the Beatles were modern noise?) which was in my brother’s garden. He’s been tarting it up and I have to say it looks fantastic.

I’ve noticed, weirdly, that I have a habit of looking particularly at parts of the street where I’ve previously found money, as though it actually grows there, or spawns there from some alternate universe. Nope. Fool.

There have been a few extremely useful suggestions for worthy charitable recipients in response to the previous update, and of course I hope for many more. I shall shortly create a page on which to track the various options, and towards the end of the year that page will contain a poll on which we can all vote…so keep suggestions coming. Feel free to brag publicly about your Small Change collection or individual finds – I know of at least one person who’s come across a fluttering fiver to bolster their collection.

It’s Rhythms of the World (ROTW) in Hitchin this weekend, and as ever the atmosphere is terrific. Happy people creating a carnival feel. I myself should be heading tonight into the grounds where the once street-based ROTW festival is now held, and probably tomorrow daytime too. Let’s face it, it couldn’t be better weather for what I overheard one man describe over the phone to his friend as “the best plan: sink a few cool ones and chill out on the grass.”

Who to give to?

It’s a rather overcast Sunday morning, but warm. Yesterday’s sudden downpours and half-hearted thunderstorms brought a little respite from the humidity, but I hear Monday and Tuesday we could get temperatures of over 30 degrees…

The week got off to a good start cash-wise. I came across a pound coin in the supermarket car park. It sat centrally in a parking slot, so whoever dropped it clearly couldn’t be bothered to scrabble around under the car to pick it up again. Good…

Apart from that – a very quiet week – a couple of 5ps, and that’s about it…

So I thought I’d mention the possible charities themselves, and how we’ll go about choosing them. Yes – we. Because I’ll set up a poll later in the year that collectors can vote in. I think two or three charities, and split the money between them…

So suggestions really would be welcome. I would like to avoid charities with any religious affiliation, simply because that might alienate some people. Some people also seem reluctant to give money to charities that support the needy abroad – on the basis that they believe UK charities should come first. I don’t actually buy into that, in part because money goes a lot further in the developing world. If I bung two quid at a homelessness charity, for the sake of argument, in this country, that might buy a box of teabags, but in Africa it will buy text books for a village school. Big difference…in my opinion.

Animal charities divide opinion too. It’s rather a tricky topic, all in all.

The only other proviso I’d like to enter is that I don’t think we should necessarily go for the best known charities. Breast cancer charities, for instance, while obviously enormously deserving, raise millions every year and enjoy an extremely high profile. There again, Save The Earwigs in That Tiny Village The Name Of Which Nobody Can Spell But It’s Quite Near Andover And The Pub Does Great Chips would obviously be rather obscure. Probably doesn’t even exist actually. Just a big con. Someone should investigate.

Hmmm…just something to think about chaps…

Hurty eyes

My eyes hurt. They’re tired. I’m tired. One of the problems with being a freelance copywriter is the ebb and flow of work – right now, it’s flow, which is good for the bank balance, but bad for the delineation between working week and weekend, and actually day and night. But I took advantage of the odd hours I kept this weekend to pick my way into town not long after dawn.

Not a bad haul, all in all – 55p, made up from an assortment of coppers, 5ps and 10p pieces. Certainly made it worthwhile. It’s a funny thing though – you’d hope to have the streets to yourself, bar the pigeons pecking at the discarded kebabs, chips and burgers – but people are around. A shrill motorbike disturbed the quiet, a clattering diesel transit, a strange man who was telling either the pigeons or me to f*ck off. I rather resent all that. Strangely, the motorbike more than the abusive oddball…

Earlier in the week I came across odd coinage here and there, so over the week I’ve added another pound or so to the collection.

One day, while sitting outside my usual coffee haunt, a rude boy car drove by, and the passenger shouted out the window: “G – O – O – H!” He seemed to aim this abbreviation in the direction of a nine-foot blonde with shrink-wrapped clothing. What did it mean?! Perhaps he was dyslexic and reading her his personal ad from the lonely hearts column – GSOH. I don’t know…all very odd…

Jake lives!

Afternoon all…and a beautiful afternoon it is too..

Quick update to let you know that Jake the crow is still with us (see Saturday’s post). I phoned the vet this morning, and it turns out that the wing wasn’t broken, and they’ve stitched up her tail (yes, I decided she was a she and am now referring to her as Jake – live with it) where the damage was, and she appears to be suffering no internal injuries… She’s now recuperating at a sanctuary. Hurrah! I just hope that’s not the same as ‘gone to live on a farm’…

After the weekend’s heady heights of Small Change collecting today could hardly compete, and my finds were restricted to a single 5p piece. On the other hand, while picking up some cheap garden shears I was given a crash course in quality parenting. A small child, pretty harmlessly, but I’m with the mother on the non-handling thing, was starting to pick something up from a shelf. “Get yer ‘ands off it. Gimme that!” shouted the mother. What excellent, if somewhat contradictory, instructions. I was disappointed when she didn’t clout the child brutishly, or impale it on her very sturdy looking spiky hair.

Broken necklace marks the spot in Broken Britain

Early early early. Up at 5am, cup of tea and then strolled in the crisp morning sunlight into town.

I beat the street cleaners today. Which was good and bad.

Within 50 yards of my house I found a 2p piece on a drain cover, which augured well.

The ‘bad’ of beating the street cleaners rapidly became apparent. Beer cans balanced on railings and the foliage of plants. Smashed pint glasses and alcopop bottles. Flattened gold beer bottle tops, looking irritatingly like pound coins in the sunlight. Plastic forks and innumerable polystyrene fast food containers, usually with their half-eaten contents congealing across the pavement. Crushed cigarette packets, cellophane wrappers and enough dog-ends to keep a town of tramps in smokes for a week. Greasy chicken carcasses in charity shop doorways. Plastic bags and cardboard burger boxes abandoned within yards of bins. The occasional dried stain of urine run downhill from a wall or patch of pink spatter in the middle of the street marking a head-spinning stagger and retch towards the end of the night.

I think, though am quite prepared to accept that my terrible memory misleads me, that it was David Cameron who first coined the phrase ‘broken Britain’. I don’t like the phrase. I don’t like the concept. Most of all I don’t like the insinuation that our country may be beyond repair. But walking through town that phrase rushed to the forefront of my mind, I felt my eyes grow heavy, and my heart grow leaden. Our shallow, greedy, gimme-it-now pop culture is really rather a damning statement on the country’s health, though this interesting article suggests at one point that perhaps by thinking in such terms we exacerbate matters. Hmmm, I dunno, but I can’t help thinking that rather than issuing a fine for dropping litter, dishing out some early morning street-cleaning to any offenders might be more effective. Community service is something I’m very keen on.

But moving onto the positive…my eye was drawn to the middle of the road as I walked through the town centre. Two coins, made into a percentage mark by a black costume jewellery necklace dividing them diagonally. A £1 coin and a 50p coin! Yes, that does merit an exclamation mark. Having bragged the other day about my 55p haul, today’s total, including a couple of other coppers discovered as I continued my walk, beat that by a full one pound sterling.

I need a digital dictaphone, I’ve decided. I write constantly in my head as I walk, and those who know me are aware that I write much as I speak, and I speak much as I think. I do own a dictaphone, but it’s so old Henry II could have used it to play back his REAL complaints to the knights who slew Thomas Becket through misplaced loyalty. The usual quote is “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”, which while poetic is not, it is generally accepted, correct. See Wikipedia’s article on Henry II for more info if you’re interested.

There you go – amateurish social commentary, half-remembered history and just over a quid for charity. Not a bad morning’s work…

The Shawshank Redemption

Today was rather Shawshank Redemption-esque…

Firstly, walking a dog with a friend through fields we stopped for a break beneath a large oak tree (actually, it could’ve been almost any kind of tree for all I know). There I saw a dirty 10p piece nestling in the mud between dog-tramped blades of grass. Ok, so it wasn’t quite the scene where Red unearths Andy Dufresne’s tin box of cash and the letter that moves the viewer to tears; there was no black rock that had no business being in the field, and not even a wall, but dammit there was a tree and some grass.

Driving back we spotted a crow that had been hit by a car, but was still alive, watching the traffic pass within inches of its beak. I pulled over and retrieved the stricken bird. Her claws (I’ve no idea if the poor thing was female, but I don’t like ‘it’, and I’m damned if I’m writing ‘he or she’ all the time) gripped my forefingers. Her right wing appeared to be broken, and some of her tail feathers were bloodied. We took her home and sat her in the shade of the garden, and I dripped water into her beak, which  she opened wide, like a chick receiving worms from its mother. Such beautiful grey eyes. She even took some bird seed which we sprinkled on the grass before her.

I phoned my mother’s friend, who runs a charity rescuing all sorts of animals, and the prognosis didn’t look good. Wing breaks are hard to fix especially on larger birds, as they’re prone to trying to remove any splints etc. Plus the internal damage might be too great, and the shock could kill her. But at the very least a vet would be able to put her to sleep peacefully.

The veterinary nurse we later took her to seemed to think there was no wing break. Which is encouraging. I’ll have to phone up Monday and see what happened. But what that really put me in mind of, Shawshank-wise, was Jake, the crow that prison librarian Brooks raised, and later freed when he himself was set free.

Ok, so all in all, these links are pretty tenuous, and I’m obviously mighty relieved that I wasn’t involved in having to fight off the attentions of dubious prisoners, but you can rest assured I’m also pretty unlikely to take the proceeds of my Small Change collection and strike out for a remote beach in Mexico, no matter how idyllic and breath-taking it might be…

Return of the sun

Aaaaaah sunshine… After a week or so of weather so fickle that I was even told (surely this is nonsense?) that within a 20-mile radius in Suffolk the other day there was rain, sun, SNOW and even dust devils, it was good to see a return to pretty steady sun today…

Over the past week or so (I know, I’ve been terribly lax and aim to return to regular updates again) the odd 5p and coins of lower denomination have found their way (legally I hasten to add) into my pocket as I’ve ambled around the place, but today I was unexpectedly rewarded.

Walking past the phone box where Nanny from Count Duckula (see previous post) had her rummage, I spotted a penny glinting up at me. Stooping down I saw three further pennies scattered around, so it was with a copper-coloured spring in my step that I continued into town.

Waiting in line at the usual coffee place I saw silver on the floor in front of the counter…a 50p piece with another penny nestling beside it. Ok, we know it’s small change, but 55p in a single day is my own personal best, even if other followers have reported pound coins and more, the lucky swine…

Enjoy the weekend all, and long may the good weather continue. And long may people be incapable of putting money into their purses without spilling the stuff everywhere…

Frugal Friday

In fact the past week has been pretty damned frugal on the Small Change front – no more than a couple of pennies to add to the collection.

Mind you, I did spend the bank holiday weekend in Devon, so was either in picturesque countryside or in the car.  And on that note, if you’re in the area, Lydford Gorge is just breath-taking. It’s very easy to forget that here in Britain we have some fantastic scenery; places where the sound of rushing water, birdsong or breezes through trees are a life-affirming break from the general cacophony of life.

This morning, in an effort to undo my rubbish coin collecting I wandered into town as Hitchin awoke. Had I been looking for rubbish I’d have made a packet. Perhaps pubs/takeaways should be legally accountable for a 20-metre radius outside their property. Might cut out a lot of the fag packets, pint glasses, polystyrene containers and discarded bottles and cans.

But the sun is shining, summer approaches, the England cricket team has remembered how to win (albeit thanks in part to some spectacular capitulation), and it’s Friday…

Tuesday. Nothing more imaginative than that.

Shiny 2008 pennies today. One directly outside my front gate, and the other on the central island at traffic lights in town. I’m still hopeful, given the persistent windy weather, that dozens of unfortunates will lose £20 notes on the sturdy breeze. That’s not actually very charitable of me…

I do love the way young children are so curious about the world around them, so oblivious to certain distractions, absorbed by others and so completely unabashed by their own behaviour. Today a little girl of three or four was so utterly transfixed by a chocolate cake that the couple on the next table at the coffee shop were sharing, as pedestrians weaved around her, that her mother actually had to tap her on the head to get her attention.

Moments later a group of teenagers sulked past. One boy, and he must have been seventeen or eighteen, stamps his foot at a pigeon – an action usually reserved for unruly toddlers – and eats a pastry of some sort with his mouth open and crumbs stuck to his lips and chin. Enchanting…

Just another manic Monday

I don’t however wish it was Sunday. I also refuse to believe that Sunday is actually anyone’s ‘fun day’.

Anyway, inane lyrics from songs that should never have been written notwithstanding, Monday HAS been manic. I did nip out however, as I’d started work at about 6am, and grabbed a coffee and did a spot of supermarket shopping. When I returned to my car there was a 5p piece lying just behind the boot.  Splendid…

Over the weekend I caught up with family, and my sister handed me 10p that a friend of hers had found after hearing about Small Change.  Actually rather a profitable past week for my money box, although a glance at the weather for the remainder of THIS week shows me I’ll be staying inside. Wet and miserable…summer’s over folks…