23/06/17: A brief charity shop hop around North Finchley.

In All Aboard, they were selling all books for 50p and they had a buy-one-get-one-free offer. It seemed like a great deal until I actually started going through them and found a disappointing array of old cookery titles, shoddy thrillers and romantic fiction. Someone had donated an entire shelf of Star Trek novels. Looked at the 50p CDs, but there was very little of interest. They had the usual copy of Rockferry by Duffy, which can be found in every charity shop in the UK. I didn't buy anything.

In the trying-on booth, a woman was trying on summer tops without having closed the curtain. She seemed quite happy to do this in full view of the customers, even though she had nothing on underneath.

In North London Hospice I bought one book (Thomas Wolfe's 1935 autobiographical novel Of Time and the River: £1) and one CD (Vanessa Paradis by Vanessa Paradis: £1). They had a live-from-Glastonbury broadcast on the radio, and a woman was singing along to the music to entertain her young child in the pram.

In British Heart Foundation I looked at the books and CDs, but they only seem to stock new and recent-ish items now. That's fine if you want last year's "beach read", but not if you have more exotic tastes.

Looked at the T-shirts. The only music shirt was for Oasis. No thanks.

I couldn't put it off any longer, so I went to have my hair cut.

29/05/17: Dance CDs (Barnardo's)

It was a bank holiday, but all three of the Whetstone charity shops were open. In Barnardo's, Whetstone, there were several dance CDs – Squarepusher, Prodigy, Boards of Canada, Orbital, Aphex Twin, and some drum and bass compilations. I restrained myself from buying anything.

06/05/17: Everyman's Library Classics (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, North Finchley. I'm fond of the Everyman's Library classics series and was happy to see a selection of them for sale. Thought about it a bit, then went back the next day and bought four of them:
• Charles Dickens – Little Dorrit
• Charlotte Bronte – Vilette
• D. H. Lawrence – Sons and Lovers
• Thomas Hardy – The Woodlanders
Many happy hours of reading ahead.

25/03/17: L'Image head (Cancer Research)

Cancer Research, North Finchley. Price sticker (£5) on forehead. Gift aid sticker on cheek.

22/03/17: Mountain of CDs (Emmaus)

Emmaus, All Saints, London, E14. The best ever charity shop visit. When they saw me scrutinising the shelves and piling up a shortlist of possible purchases, the kind staff brought out two large crates full of discs and let me work my way through them. I entered a state of high excitement when I saw the diverse riches on offer. My eyes were spinning round like a madman's. Eventually, after narrowing it down a bit, I bought 24 albums for 50p each (total: £12):
• The Beatles – 1
• Blur – The Best Of (2-CD version with live disc)
• Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad
• Dexter Gordon – Go!
• Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
• Echo & The Bunnymen – Songs to Learn & Sing
• Elvis Costello – My Aim is True (Demon version with 22 tracks)
• Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel
• Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint – The River in Reverse
• Elvis Presley – Elvis: NBC TV Special
• Joe Jackson – Look Sharp
• John Coltrane – Coltrane / Lush Life (two albums on one CD)
• Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
• Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around
• Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow (still shrinkwrapped)
• King Creosote – From Scotland with Love
• Lloyd Cole – Lloyd Cole
• Love – Forever Changes
• Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus (two CDs)
• Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Nocturama
• Ravi Shankar – Portrait of Genius / Sound of the Sitar (two CDs in a slipcase)
• Super Furry Animals – Phantom Power
• The Who – Who's Next
• The Who – Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy

Also bought one book for £1:
• Mick Houghton – I've Always Kept a Unicorn: The Biography of Sandy Denny.

22/01/17: Graffiti Bridge/Taxi (North London Hospice)

In North London Hospice, North Finchley, I was pleased to find Prince's Graffiti Bridge and Bryan Ferry's Taxi. I heard the former when it came out, and recall it not being especially good – Prince was in decline post-Lovesexy (1988) – but for £1 it seemed worth another play. Bryan Ferry was well past his best by 1993, but this also seemed worth the "gamble" for a quid. Original HMV prices were £12.99 and £11.99.

22/01/17: Cher – Believe (British Heart Foundation)

British Heart Foundation, North Finchley. They had a CD sale and seemingly quite a few copies of Cher's 1998 album Believe.

08/01/17: Beach Boys/Simon & Garfunkel/Wolf of Wall Street (Cancer Research)

Cancer Research, Finchley Central. For one pound each I bought the Beach Boys' Surf's Up and Holland, Simon & Garfunkel's The Concert in Central Park and the DVD of The Wolf of Wall Street.
I asked my little helper to select one album to play first. Holland was the preferred choice.
Even a wolf needs to sleep sometimes.

29/12/16: Millennium Falcon (Dogs Trust)

Dogs Trust, Whetstone. This model Millennium Falcon was priced at £40, despite missing the cockpit piece. Not exactly a bargain. However, it soon sold.

28/12/16: The Very Best of Julie London (R.F.F.R.)

RFFR, North Finchley. I saw this CD the other day and was tempted, but foolishly bought a disappointing Carly Simon CD instead (see HERE). Passing R.F.F.R. today, I was delighted to see that Julie had waited for me. Two discs and 50 tracks for a mere 50p – that's one penny per track: not bad going in 2016's broken Brexit Britain. Interestingly, both Carly and Julie cover Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye".

28/12/16: Frog and rabbit (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, North Finchley. I was very sorry to hear that the author Richard Adams died on Christmas Eve. Maybe I was just feeling sad about all the famous people passing away this week (Rick Parfitt, Carrie Fisher, Liz Smith, etc), but this frog/rabbit scenario suddenly seemed like a bad-dream version of Watership Down.

19/12/16: Star Wars figurines (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, Whetstone. Figures include Watto (not to scale), a stormtrooper, Darth Maul, Han Solo, Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala, R2-D2, Chewbacca and an Ewok.

17/12/16: Back Into the System (R.F.F.R.)

RFFR, North Finchley. Was tempted by Julie London (who wouldn't be?), but ended up buying a Carly Simon CD called Film Noir. Mike Peters' Back Into the System was signed by the former star of The Alarm himself. The gold writing looks like it says: "To Rennie with respect Mike Peters". Clearly the respect wasn't mutual.

03/12/16: I Love Rock 'n' Roll (All Aboard)

All Aboard, North Finchley. I very nearly bought this copy of I Love Rock 'n' Roll by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, but the pages of the booklet were stuck together. Instead, I bought The Visitors by Abba on CD – a masterful album – for £1.

03/09/16: Dylan (Barnardo's)

Barnardo's, Whetstone. You don't often see Bob Dylan CDs in charity shops, but here were four of his albums, alongside Chris Rea, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits and The Faces.

20/08/16: "Lovely gentlemen" (MS)

Woman at the till in MS: Multiple Sclerosis Society, East Barnet, upon seeing myself and four other men browsing in her shop:

"My goodness! All these lovely gentlemen! Close the door! I don't often get this many men in the room at once..."

13/08/16: Jar Jar Binks (Barnardo's)

Barnardo's, Whetstone. Everyone's least favourite Star Wars character finds himself alongside the Mon Calamari Rebel commander Admiral Ackbar and some other, lesser figurines.

11/08/16: Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust, Whetstone. Very excited to see a new charity shop opening in Whetstone. Slightly bothered by the lack of an apostrophe in its name, though: shouldn't it be Dogs' Trust? Otherwise, it means "dogs do trust" – which, obviously, some do (and maybe if they were less trusting of humans they wouldn't need charities to protect them).

31/07/15: Judith/Now & Then/Scrooged/Sundown (All Aboard)

In All Aboard, Chipping Barnet, I bought a Gordon Lightfoot LP (Sundown), a triple-gatefold-sleeve Carpenters album (Now & Then), a Judy Collins record (Judith) and a DVD of the Bill Murray film Scrooged:

Fittingly, they had Neil Powell's book Amis & Son: Two Literary Generations next to books by Kingsley (The Anti-Death League) and Martin Amis (Yellow Dog):

They weren't taking good care of their vinyl...

16/07/16: The Green Room – "A New type of charity shop"

A new charity shop has opened in the Grand Arcade at Tally Ho Corner in North Finchley. Calling itself "A New type of charity shop", the Green Room is housed within the former Haircode and promises coins, curios, costume and jewellery. I looked at the books and CDs. There was no sign yet of the "unique seasonal gifts".

18/06/16: 3 X Wrought Iron Gates (MS: Multiple Sclerosis Society)

Sign outside MS: Multiple Sclerosis Society in East Barnet. The "Rocking Chair & Stool" had sold, but the "Stero system & Speakers" were still available.

11/06/16: Row of CDs (Cancer Research)

Cancer Research, East Barnet. I love to peruse a row of CDs and this one did not let me down. An interesting mixture of Britpop, 70s rock and punk – at £2 a go – including:
• Catatonia – Equally Cursed and Blessed
• Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree
• Various artists – Northern Soul Memories
• Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go
• Suede – Sci-fi Lullabies
• Led Zeppelin – Early Days
• Morrissey – You Are the Quarry
• ACDC – Live
• The Who – Songs from Quadrophenia
• Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
• PiL – The Greatest Hits So Far
• Banarama – The Very Best Of
• Various artists – The Very Best of Power Ballads
• Various artists – Party Starter: The 15 Tunes That Rocked 2001
• Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
• Blur – Blur
• Radiohead – The Bends

29/05/16: Beatles book bonanza (Barnardo's)

Barnardo's, Whetstone. Eight Beatles books, plus tomes on Amy Winehouse and Keith Moon.

28/05/16: New shop (MS: Multiple Sclerosis Society)

MS: Multiple Sclerosis Society, East Barnet. The old MS closed down. Pleased to see that this has opened just around the corner. A friendly blackboard outside the door states "Thank you E Barnet for your great support".

14/05/16: Shimmering shirt (North London Hospice)

The refurbished North London Hospice reopened in Whetstone. I bought a shimmering shirt to celebrate. Too shimmery to photograph.

16/04/16: Anne and Evelyn (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, North Finchley. Bargain books. Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread was shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize. Evelyn Waugh's Scoop is a 1938 classic comedy-satire about a newspaper journalist. I read it in the late 1980s/early 1990s and would like to read it again soon.

10/04/16: Glamour Babe wig (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, Whetstone. "Glamour Babe" wig: £3.50. That's 49p cheaper than the "Beatnik" wig on sale in Swanage. I did not buy either.

10/04/16: Dark Side of the Moon mug (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, Whetstone. Dark Side of the Moon mug, 75p. Can't really go wrong. As one Amazon reviewer puts it, 'tea and coffee actually taste better out of this mug!"

06/03/16: Before Sunrise/set (All Aboard)

All Aboard, North Finchley. Didn’t buy the dolly or the moustaches, but I did buy two DVDs. Before Sunrise is a 1995 film directed by Richard Linklater. The plot deals with the chance meeting of Jesse and CĂ©line – and what happens next. Before Sunset is the 2004 sequel. I found both in a boxed set for just £1. A third film (2013's Before Midnight) was not included, but you can't have everything.

Also bought a cheery rubber phone case for 50p.

06/03/16: Manly Moustaches (All Aboard)

All Aboard, North Finchley. For 50p, you can transform yourself into ALL of the following:
The Biker
The Banker (my favourite)
The Wise Guy
The Snob
The Casanova
The Villain

06/03/16: Dolly, vase, tiger (All Aboard)

All Aboard, North Finchley. Dolly peers out from vase. Tiger looks on. Dolly has nice jumper, but scarily small hands.

06/03/16: Carol (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, North Finchley. Today saw my first visit to this new branch (they have moved down the road a bit). Recently saw the film Carol starring Cate Blanchett and am intrigued to read the 1952 Patricia Highsmith "lesfic" classic it was based on.

28/02/16: Galsworthy (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, Whetstone. This three-volume Forsythe Saga tempted me for a few seconds, but I have heard that it's a somewhat turgid read. Jaws, meanwhile, races along. The latter could once be seen in every charity shop in Britain. These days, however, copies are rather scarce.

21/02/16: Easy Rider (North London Hospice)

North London Hospice, Whetstone. The iconic 1969 road movie starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. The above viewer's favourite song on the soundtrack is "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. Mine is "Wasn't Born to Follow" by The Byrds.