Along with Atkins Down The Road I now help out at one of the local charity shops every Thursday morning and have been doing so for the last three weeks. It was Atkins who saw the note in their window asking for volunteer counter staff and recognised it as the golden opportunity it represented, for we now get first pick of all the clothes that are donated rather than have to take our chances with the rest of the shop’s clientele. Not only is this useful for kitting ourselves out in fine style but it will be an absolute boon when it comes to  dressing our inflatable rubber women, once we get our artificial car passenger scheme up and running. So, it must be admitted, our reasons for helping out at the charity shop are not entirely charitable. 

When we volunteered our services to the manageress, Mrs Peasegood, she wanted us to work on separate days. However we explained to her that we come as a team. “Like Ant and Dec then,” she said. If Atkins hadn’t been anxious for us to get the jobs I swear he would have hit her as his opinion of Ant and Dec is lower than mine, if that’s possible, but he just managed to restrain himself. Anyway the upshot was that Mrs Peasegood moved one of the Thursday ladies to Tuesday to accommodate our wishes.

It was Atkins who first identified what Mrs Peasegood subsequently told us were known to the charity shop staff as ‘Flogiteers’. These are apparently people who nowadays frequent charity shops in ever increasing numbers and who are devotees of the TV antiques programme ‘Flog It!’ And what they are seeking is a bargain. “They very rarely buy anything,” explained Mrs Peasegood, “They just go through all the bric-a-brac like a dose of salts and leave it in a right mess, they’re a dashed nuisance.”

A dashed nuisance was not the expression used by Atkins about the Flogiteer who had him get all the items of pottery out of both front windows so he could give them a closer inspection. The windows are about six feet deep and to remove any pottery at the front involves getting in the window on your hands and knees and negotiating your way through an assault course of silver teapots and cut glass decanters and suchlike to get at the said pottery, then making your way back with it item by item until the window is cleared of pottery. You can take it that by the end of his exertions Atkins was not best pleased.

The Flogiteer’s idea of a closer inspection was simply to turn the piece upside down and look for a manufacturer’s name. I know a bit about pottery, being an occasional viewer of Flog It myself, and the names he would have been looking for are Clarice Cliffe, Moorcroft, Troika, Coalport, and others currently in vogue.

The very same Flogiteer called in the following Thursday morning too, last Thursday in fact. This time it fell upon me to get all the pottery out of both windows for his perusal. I was about as pleased as Atkins had been. Again the Flogiteer went through his routine and bought nothing, leaving me to put all the pieces of pottery back in the windows. Mrs Peasegood said he comes in most Thursday mornings, has been doing so for over a year, and has yet to buy a single thing.

Something will have to be done about it if he continues with this behaviour.