Today I went to Thetford.
I make trips like this every now and then. The way it works is this; I choose a place I want to visit, in this case Thetford, and choose some things I want to see there, in this case stuff relating to Dad’s Army – which was filmed in Thetford, and stuff relating to Thomas Paine – who was born in Thetford, and I set myself the target of paying for the entire day by buying undervalued books/records/cds from the town’s charity shops which I will then later ship to Amazon who sells them on my behalf in return for a commission.
I call these days out Charity Shop Road Trips (though this one was by rail). I’ve been doing them for a few years. (I’ve written about them, or the carboot equivalent, here). I enjoy them in a sort of daft, carefree way – in the charity shops, as well as buying stuff to sell, I usually find a couple of books or records or DVDs I want for myself, I always end having random conversations with strangers and I get to see the things I want to see. And I always end up paying my way. I usually end up making a profit on the day.
Thetford has the usual amount of charity shops – I found five in the town centre and one nearer the station and that should have been more than enough to cover the £23 my day out cost me. But I’ve never seen such desolate shelves.
After 3 hours trawling through the absolute arse end of the consumer society I came up with the following:
Based on the prices I think they should go for at Amazon this lot will make me £17 profit. This meant, that for the first time, my Charity Shop Road Trip made a loss. Whitley Bay, Loughborough, Winchester repeatedly, the Isle Of Wight (all of it) to name but a few – I’d licked them all with my cunning profiteering. But not Thetford.
Moreover – The Dad’s Army Museum was closed for the winter and the visitor centre where you can find the visitor trail for the Thomas Paine Walk and the Dad’s Army Walk was closed for Christmas. So, dejected and defeated, I left Thetford early – but I will return. Two people there that I spoke to spoke of a giant charity shop warehouse on the edge of town – and I still want to see the Dad’s Army Museum.
And most of all I still want to try to measure the gap between the freedom I enjoy on days out like this and the freedom Thomas Paine argued for.
I put everything right in Cambridge – I was back early enough to trawl through the Mill Road charity shops, including the glorious RSPCA bookshop and bought this lot:
They’re worth loads. So I won in the end.