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Monday, October 10, 2005

Special Collections

Here, at long last, is some actual Moseley content. It's been a long dry spell in terms of photographically enagaging local events that also prompt some sort of reflection.

The city council - apparently - have nominated certain roads for a pilot rubbish collection scheme, where residents can put out any old thing in the run-up to the specified collection day. This kind of thing happens in other cities. San Francisco do it twice a year, Amsterdam have a variant on the theme during Queen's Day, and every college town I've ever lived in has a massive clearout day as the students leave their dormitories and abandon the year's worth of accoutrements. When I lived in the Bay Area, the week before collection day was characterised by people in all manner of wheeled vehicles scouring the streets for other people's cast-offs. There was something competitive about it, and by extension, something exciting in every find.

I haven't participated in the Amsterdam experience, but was told of it two weeks ago by someone at a yard/garage/patio/porch/pavement sale along Elmfield Crescent. (You know the one. It was advertised by can't-miss-it yellow flyers taped and stapled to streetsigns and trees all around the village.) The way he told it, the Queen's Birthday, or whatever day is named in her honour, is also a day of people setting their accumulated and unwanted stuff on the pavements, on tables, on the stoops of their houses, and flogging it, giving it away, swapping it for other stuff in a grand city-wide bazaar. What fun! So it's nice to see even a faint version of these kinds of schemes in place here.

As it happens, Cotton Lane is one of the council-nominated roads, and today, all manner of rubbish and not-so-rubbish have turned up, as shown in the following photos. It didn't all appear today. Someone near the top of Cotton Lane has been putting out old cabinets and various bits of gear over the weekend, but today, by midafternoon, there were about ten installations between School Road and Wake Green Road. A descending stroll took me past the cabinets, a broken garden fork, a microwave, a collection of garden fencing and bamboo rollerblinds, a mid-century dollhouse, an A-board, some small glass canisters, some hamster architecture, a baby buggy, some suitcases, an interesting metal attache case and an espresso machine, a small ice chest, some chairs, a miniature billiards table, a box of shoes, and last, but not least, a teak rhinocerous. Some of these were gathered up and taken home. The microwave works just fine. The espresso maker needs a carafe, but it does its heating and spitting thing quickly and thoroughly.

(Note: photos not showing up is apparently a Blogger bug that rejects javascript in some instances but not others. Photos can still be viewed at

So there's a treasure trove of stuff being set out on the roads. While I was out, I saw someone with a small van stopping along the road and inspecting stuff before putting a few things in the back and moving along to the next collection. Whatever he's taken is probably going to show up at the Sunday car boot sale in the wholesale veg market. Tatting is obviously alive and well in Birmingham.

Clearly, there's an interest in this kind of event, and I think it would be both good fun and good sense to have a more extensive and better organised version of this special collection.