The Scales of History.

Bear with me please:

Monday morning, the day when revellers from the weekend-long V Festival nearby head for home in various states of overdraft, euphoria, wakefulness and sobriety (God bless ‘em all) …

… and the day for a work party to “sort out” the things and spiders, snails and history jammed inside the corrugated shed by the bottom gate so that equipment and tools that are the domain of the events committee can be stored therein.

(Trust me – if you dare – we will be meeting the Festival goers again, later. And give me a chance to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with live music concerts: I have spent some great times at such events: love ‘em.)

The clearing out went well; these people get the job done, but we were left with some low seated cushioned chairs, an ancient gas burner barbecue that we don’t believe will work, six pairs of rusty hedge shears and a blunt cross-cut saw and three sets of scales; one a very fancy state of the art once upon a time set of Avery scales such as would have been used in a shop.


The other two sets were agricultural balance scales, previously used for weighing out potato seed orders and, maybe fertilisers and such like.

scales 2

Opinion was divided.

Those who wanted to take them up the tip: the “just-get-rid” brigade.

Those, the money-sensible ones, who said take ‘em to a scrappy, get some cash.

Me: “They belong in a local museum. We could donate them or “loan them and add our name to the list of donors at the museum. It’ll raise our profile and be the noble thing to do …”

There is a museum nearby, with various artefacts of local interest (s is right and proper) so I duly – but somewhat carefully as they are all heavy items – loaded them into the car and was waved off, fully expecting to be back within thirty minutes.

How wrong can a man be?

Arriving at the museum I was greeted by a very personable young woman who told me that I should fill in a form that the donations officer could look at and let me know. We agreed that, if the said officer was at the museum he/she could come and take a look and, if necessary I would fill in the form and leave the scales there.

The officer (a lady it transpired) was not in. While waiting I had completed the form (I write quickly!) but The young lady … let’s call her Irene (not her real name) said I would have to leave the form but not the scales. The museum would be in touch.

I countered with a rather sharp “Okay, can you tell me where the nearest scrappy is ?”

This shocked her, visibly. She explained that I could leave the scales behind the reception counter and add a message to the form that said the scales became the museum’s responsibility. This would empower the staff to look over the items and decide; if no good would allow them to dispose of them.

Suited me – perfectly. I wrote the and signed the message and started to unload. Would you believe it ? As soon as I got the last set out a guy came along and said I couldn’t leave them, they were – to cut a long story short – no use to the museum.

My turn to be visibly shocked. I simply could not believe it. A museum turning down perfectly good, very local items (Avery made in Digbeth, Birmingham) indeed!

I tried to persuade him to accept the scales – but to no a avail; he was rather pompous at times (or I felt he was because, of course, I was upset that he was not doing what I wanted him to do: accept the gift offered for posterity).

I had naively imagined that here might be some behind the scenes partnership/network going on between museums that enabled them to swap unwanted/surplus items. But apparently not. Or not for this place any road up.

So, again I asked for directions to the nearest scrappy. The man had the temerity to tell me the way to the local tip (where no money would change hands) but Irene, standing bashfully in the background while the wrangling was going on suggested a place. Throughout, she had been admirable, polite and working well with a member of the public (even one in his allotment “scruffs”) and finally coming up with this solution.

So, onto the roads for what should have been a ten minute trip.

Here is where we meet the going-home traffic from the festival. Clogging up the main roads I needed to ravel on. Some accidents adding to the chaos. I began to reconsider my previously stated enthusiasm for such events and those who attend them.

I arrived, a little dispirited, dehydrated  and still annoyed that scrappage was the only way forward to be told that I needed photographic identification before I could be given money. I had none with me!

Further, having weighed the items the total weight was worth less than the minimum payment.

I came away with a note and promise to return with extra iron and evidence of who I was attached to an address.

I am, sure that, when we get to the allotment barbecue and the newly cleared out shed plays its part my blood pressure will have returned to normal.

Hope everyone enjoyed the V Festival.

Postscript: Neither of the photos used in this article is of the actual scales: I didn’t have my camera so thanks due to


for the nearest likenesses I could find.


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