06 October 2011

Shopping & Whinging but Mostly Shopping

You know what I hate?  What I really, really hate? 

I’ll tell you what I hate:  I hate it when you’re at a Fair and you’re looking at things on a stall and there isn’t a price on anything.  Generally, if you can’t be bothered putting a price on your stuff, I can’t be bothered asking.  But every now and then you see something that is really quite nice and if it’s the right price you will buy it, so you’re obliged to ask.  And then the dealer looks you and up and down and decides on the price there and then, based on what they reckon they can extract from you.  I really, really hate that.  We’ve even had a woman say Oh, let me think of a number when we asked her the price of one of her pieces.  And that number was really big, even for me who dresses like an impoverished bag lady when doing the Fairs.  How much would she have nominated for a punter who looked all coiffured and nicely presented? 

So okay, that might sound like a pet hate unique to someone who shops at the big English antiques Fairs and encounters this type of behaviour, but no-one likes it when someone tries to rip them off.  And so blatantly.  And then these dealers sit around moaning about what a bad day they’re having and how no-one is buying anything.  It’s because we’re not total Idiots who majored in Idiocy at the Idiots Acadamy based in Idiotsville that we’re not buying from them.

And yet, notwithstanding my whinging (I’m becoming an honorary Englander!) today’s Fair was probably the best buying we’ve done at any Fair ever.  We made our first major purchase – a really nice large French metal & wire garden table – within 10 seconds of entering the Fair, and it was all good from then on.  We even ran out of money and had to run off and get more, which is unprecedented because we take scads of cash with us and it’s usually more than enough.  Doug has even stopped nagging me that I need to buy more stuff, which is also unprecedented.  We bought a very large amount of fabuloso Art Deco glass and really lovely ceramics from the late Victorian era to about the 1930s, and we bought so well that our customers are going to swoon with excitement when they see our prices.  I fell down dead myself at some of the bargains I was getting.  So we came away very Happy Vegemites indeed.

Some of the more unusual purchases were a number of Ming Dynasty pot shards (c1590) that have been made into pendants.  They were excavated from the archaeological dig of a large kiln site in central China, along the Yangtze River.  Broken pots were tossed into ditches back in the day (seeing how they didn’t have rubbish collections in rural China in the 1500s) and it’s these ditches that are now being excavated.  I asked the dealer to be a little more specific about the location because the Yangtze River is the third longest in the world and “somewhere along the Yangtze” covers a pretty big area, but like all dealers he jealously guarded his precise source, so central China was the best I was going to get. 

And you never know, I might have decided to quickly learn Mandarin and then go trekking the entire length of the Yangtze River to find a restricted-entry archaeological site, and then bribe the guards to let me in (because my language training would naturally have included all the necessary espionage and bribery phrases), and then negotiate with the site administrators to purchase the shards I want and convince them that even though I only want about 20 I’m still totally worth dealing with, and then clip them into shape and band them with silver-plated metal myself.  It’s possible.  I’m sure I’ve done stranger things.  Anyway, no matter how unlikely it was that I would take the necessary action to gazump this dealer and go directly to his source myself, I do understand about protecting supply sources.  It’s just in my case it’s entirely sensible and in his case it was silly.

Meanwhile, back at the Fair, to make the day even better the Red Arrows spent most of the day doing the most spectacular aerobatics directly over us.  I think they belong to the RAF, and they are a synchronized flying stunt team.  They were fantastic, and from time to time all activity stopped at the Fair as everyone just stood and watched what they were doing, with all their loop-de-loops and close formation zig-zaggy routines.  At times they seemed perilously close to the ground so if they were going to have a horrible crash they would also have taken out most of the Fair.  But away, they did well and didn’t crash and dead impressed everyone.

We’ve just finished a mega pack day, so now we’re regrouping so we can head off tomorrow to attend the biggest antiques Fair in the world.  After the Fair we’re heading down to Dover so we can catch a ferry to France on Friday so another big day is ahead.

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