I have read some quite beautifully written passages on pawn shop windows through the 1940\’s and 50\’s, Words of excellence in description of knives, trumpets and open razors; engraved wafer blades and back lit mother-of-pearl handles. Banjos and harmonicas.
There is little illicit magic in those shops any more. 25% OFF! they scream; All Cheques Cashed Inside! It is as big a business, just legitimized and louder.
I have lost some fine things to pawn shops through the intervening years. Tickets uncashed. Memories rewritten. Chased away forever as the foam on small beer settles and cold beads collect on the side of a glass. Things which make music are the hardest loss to bear.
Inside is the worst, with all those unclaimed items littering the aisles. Nothing hidden. Pinned out; splayed. Like somebody\’s mother in an armchair after Saturday\’s night out. Or face down on the concrete of a car park.
Like watching crows with pushchairs picking through the belongings of the newly dead or simply departed. Paying over the odds, finally, but glad to have profited out of their next door neighbour\’s idiocy or crisis.
Even should you open the door hesitantly – the glass whispers on oiled hinges now – there is no going back.