We have a thing about skips. It's a leftover from our student days. Andrew and his friend, Katherine, who he lived with at University found a convertible 1930s leather covered sofa in a skip and took it home, cleaned it up, polished the leather and wood. It stayed with Katherine until she moved and then it was left behind for someone else to enjoy. That's the beauty of reclaiming furniture. One person's rubbish is another person's treasure. Andrew still talks about that sofa with fond memories, a piece of furniture should have a story behind it. Like the bookcase we saved from a bonfire because the owner couldn't be bothered to take it to the tip. The art books we found dumped on the sidewalk in Haight Ashbury on our honeymoon, we celebrated the find with a slice of fat pizza sat on top of a bin beside a group of Goths with signs that read: 'The world is sad, feed us'. We never found out why feeding them would make the world less sad. They refused to talk to us because of our accents. Seems they were afraid of everything including the books we had saved.
So, our skip diving days are far from over, and when our new neighbours, the builder and his wife, started to bang away next door we lamented with them the problems with horse hair plaster falling off walls, cock eyed lintels and doors that lead to nowhere. They were rebuilding their fireplace so they could put in a stove and sure enough they had taken out around a hundred bricks they didn't need. We asked. We had a job for these bricks. Bricks like this have built the paths at Pig Row and they're destined for that. They were happy too because that left more room in the skip they'd ordered. All it took was one evening of bringing them around to our front garden, cleaning them up and stacking them in the back until they are ready to be used. Yes, it was dirty work, soot covered bricks, old mortar that crumbles to the touch but never be ashamed to ask someone if they want that thing they are throwing away. We got a foot stool at the tip that way. We still have it to this day and there is nothing wrong with it. Our sofas belonged to Carol's Mum and Dad before they came to us, there's nothing wrong with them, they fancied a change and we needed new sofas after months of toilet training with Little D. We don't have one piece of new furniture in our home. We don't do flat pack. We don't do Modernism, Brutalism or Minimalism. We can't hack it unless there are piles of books to be read, salvaged furniture to be polished and skip dives to be brought back to use. Call it a form of foraging.