I always look in skips. There are a lot of them around here. The Victorian terraces are being reconverted, gutted, as owner/occupiers move in. New plaster getting slapped on, walls repointed. The cheap shit of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that furnished peoples’ needs when these places were all divided into bedsits and flats ends up dumped. No one has carpets these days either.
You can find furniture, clothes, electrical goods. I used to have a mate who would just go around picking out the copper wire. He’d spend hours stripping the insulation off it, and then take it down to the scrap and weigh it in for a few quid. It was a living, of sorts.
It was half hidden by a board, and some shreds of grim wallpaper – stripes in pink and lilac, with convoluted flowers. It looked like a strange glove in pale yellowish leather. One that was designed to look like a hand, but with holes where the fingernails would be. I thought it was pretty unusual, so I grabbed it; but the board was on top so I had to lift that enough so I could pull it out from underneath. I saw that the glove was a long one, over elbow length. Holding up the board with one hand, I pulled the whole thing out with the other. The glove came out. It wasn’t a glove. There was the glove part that turned into a tube, and the rest of whatever it was wadded into a mass, screwed up, squashed, and covered in plaster dust. I tried shaking the dust off it, then took some of the wallpaper and laid that down in the road next to the skip. I smoothed it out on that, starting at the glove end. The material very fine; wrinkled, but not brittle. I thought that it was some weird sort of garment, and was really impressed at how there was no visible stitching. The glove turned into a tube that seemed to be made to go over the shoulder, but it seemed to have been in a fire. It was charred at the top of the shoulder and across, from under the armpit, leaving a just a circular flap. The edges were brittle, and burnt black, brown scorch marks went across. I was thinking it must have been some sort of expensive fetish wear, being made so well; like an upmarket version of the glove vets put on when they stick their hands up cow’s arses. I was also thinking of the scenario that led to this expensive sex apparel getting burned. Then I stopped. It had a nipple. A scorch mark ran across it, but it was there. Pale tan, with the small nub of flesh in the middle (this had been dried by the fire so it had the translucency and the texture of a dog chew). I looked again, the thing had pores. The “glove” part had lines on the palm, life line, love line.
It lay there in the gutter, against the lurid wallpaper, like a used condom, or a discarded sock, or any of the other things that usually littered the pavements around there. I left it. Someone else could find it, or call the police, or whatever they wanted to do. I left it there and went home to wash my hands until they were sore.
I’ve seen a few others since then. Screwed up, and left against walls with dead leaves and empty crisp packets. Drooping from yellow skips amongst old doors and floorboards, and those shitty white laminate wardrobes with the gold plastic handles that used to be everywhere, as the old houses around get their shiny new facelift. No one has called the police.
TO BE CONTINUED...