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Rubbish, Rumaging and Revival

Treasures in a pile of garbage
by BizzyB
February 24, 2004
I saw something which made my heart sink last year. I had to make a trip to the community tip with a bundle of recycling and the seemingly never-ending rubbish the foster cats generate. It was a busy day at the tip, if I remember rightly it was a public holiday. There were the gardeners putting their cuttings into the giant composting collection, the do-it-yourself brigade who'd ripped out cupboards and those who'd just been inspired to clear out. And then I saw him.

He stood on the platform by the giant skip emotionlessly throwing book after book in with the other discarded objects. I could have cried. What a waste. 'Why not take them to a charity shop?' I thought to myself, 'I suppose not everyone feels the same way about books as I do.'

Books to me are letters from people I do not know, journeys to places I have never been, sparks to set alight fear, sadness, happiness and joy. As a little girl I devoured books, I asked Santa for them and the arrival of the mobile library to the remote countryside where I was raised was an event.

Fast forward to Spring 2004. I sat half listening to the daytime television show that was idly on in the corner. They were reviewing a book, I can't remember which one. Then they explained they'd leave it somewhere and hopefully a passer-by would pick it up and its journey followed. They mentioned a website but I missed the full address. The next week I heard it, bookcrossing.com. 'This' I thought, ' could be a place where others would understand the sense of disappointment I had after seeing a suitcase load of books being thrown out!'

I logged on registered. I searched my bookcases and cupboards for those books I'd bought, been gifted or even won in competitions. Eight of them have already started their journeys.

A few days after my first releases it was time for another trip to the tip (such is the excitement of my life!). The household waste skip was heaving and someone had just balanced a cardboard box on top and driven off. As I lifted my rubbish bag over the edge I saw into the box. There were clumped a set of books. Admittedly the majority were dog eared and had served their time but three were still eager to be read.

The three were an eclectic mix. One was 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus', as good as new. I wondered if it was one of those well meaning presents whose cover remained closed. The other was the play version of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' obviously a school project. Inside was a piece of paper with hastily scribbled notes and on the back cover was written one of those messages obviously secretly passed during a lesson. 'She just called me a lazy little sod!' the first line read. 'Vez said she was and she repeated it' was the reply in this mini drama. The third was the biography of Ishi, 'the Last Wild Indian in America', the story of a Native American whose tribe was made extinct.

I lifted them from the box and now they are waiting to be registered and released. I saved them from the crusher and they live to see another bookmark.

'Yuk' some friends have said, labelling me with those strange beings who rummage through skips. But you don't think that, do you?

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