Dot writes: the builder has officially finished and gone, leaving a couple of items of clothing behind him (a fleece and a long-sleeved top, before you get worried. And we do mean to return them). We have paid him and now have €60 in our savings account. So we need to get some furniture on minimal money. This means freecycle, jumbletown and gumtree.ie.
I love looking at these websites. In practice it’s amazingly hard to get things from the free websites, because whenever anything one might actually want comes up forty people always reply to the advert within ten seconds of posting. If you’re the person posting it turns out that thirty of the forty don’t mean to collect and it takes three weeks to get rid of the item, but if you’re trying to get hold of something then you have to be very quick indeed. So we usually end up using gumtree, because being prepared to pay for things makes one a little bit more likely to acquire them; but I love the idea of exchanging things for free. It is such an elegant and sensible solution to the problem of the throwaway society, not to mention the problem of furniture being extremely expensive.
Sofas come up surprisingly often. The other thing we want is a dining table, preferably extendable and with chairs, and tables are quite rare on the free sites; but the internet fairly swarms with sad, unloved sofas looking for new homes. We are not quite ready to adopt one: it would be a good idea to get the living room painted first and, even more, to get the floor sanded and polished. But I have been warming up, as it were, by looking at what’s out there. Now, you can’t be fussy when getting things cheaply or for free; throws or re-covering are the order of the day. But it is astonishing how nasty some of these sofas are. Horrible fussy patterns from the eighties. Queasily bulging leather sofas in segments like biker caterpillars. Vast corner sofas that would leave most urban homes with only two square feet of usable floor. Thin uncomfortable futons suitable for neither sitting nor sleep. All these poor ugly, rejected sofas, hoping for someone to appreciate their unlikely charms. And, given that you can easily spend over €1000 on a new sofa, doubtless they will indeed find homes, and perhaps one of them will shortly be living with us.
In fact one of the things I like about buying things second-hand or freecycling is, oddly enough, having less choice. I find fretting over exact decisions about shape and colour quite stressful, especially as Ken and I often pull in opposite directions over such matters; but we can both enjoy a bargain and accept it as it comes to us. Choice is dreadfully overrated, don’t you agree?