01 March 2012

Jewels, Boules & Being Villainous

It appears that La Palace des Pythons has now been successfully cleared of its inhabitants.  I am sure everyone will gasp in admiration at the extreme bravery I displayed by driving the entire way to the mechanics with Jet turned up to full volume before I was sure that the latest snake really had gone from the car.  I figured that so much thumping vibration would flush out any critter, whereupon I could grab it and evict it.  I’ve evicted plenty of snakes from our storage shed before, so I can handle them if I have to although I’m not happy about it.  I even removed a tick from one tree snake before I released it, although the ungrateful wretch then tried to bite me.  So anyway the drive to the mechanic was a little bit fraught, but now I feel confident that the python has run off.

It’s been a good week in the shop.  We sold the second pastry table within 24 hours, which was excellent and I am positively determined to get over my reluctance to spend the necessary money when I find good semi-industrial pieces.  This week in the window we’ve put out a nice Baltic pine blanket box which has attractive bone escutcheons around the locks and cool secret compartments.  We’ve also put out the last of the French bedside cabinets, this one with ormolu highlights, serpentine legs and a beautiful marble top – very Parisian.  So it is a very different look in the window this week – a move away from the kitchen and into the boudoir.  Having said that, many people who buy the cabinets don’t use them in the bedroom, and they end up in loungerooms, bathrooms, hallways and all over the place.  My own one is next to my bed, so clearly I am a traditionalist when it comes to French bedside cabinets.

Meanwhile I’ve been doing a bit of research into likely places to shop while in Brussels and Amsterdam, and it looks promising.  My fallback position is buying chocolate in Belgium and visiting famous art galleries in Amsterdam, which is a pretty good fallback position I thought, but getting some actual shopping done will also be nice.  The plan is to visit both of the main Paris markets this time, and that’s just as well because I need serious amounts of jewellery.  Yet again I have no spare jewellery to let the shop sitters put out while we’re gone, but what can I do?  We sell a lot of vintage costume jewellery and I literally can’t buy enough to keep fully stocked all the time.

This week a jewellery collector came by and bought five Christmas Tree brooches and the last of my Trifari pieces, so replacements are on the shopping list for the coming trip.  All the Christmas Tree brooches are American, but I always buy them in England – I’ve never even seen one in France.  For a few trips all I found were light, tinny reproductions and I would rather go without than buy reproduction.  So when I found a goodly number of vintage Christmas Tree brooches last trip I went berko and bought all that I liked and could afford.  As we were unpacking them Doug kept asking How many did you buy? but I couldn’t remember other than it was a lot.  And now I’m down to three left so it’s worth waiting for the real deal because people appreciate quality. 

Trifari is one of the best known American costume jewellery brands, first made famous by being worn by Mamie Eisenhower at both of President Eisenhower’s Inauguration Balls.  Even though it’s costume jewellery, the brand has many beautiful pieces so it’s very collectable and usually priced accordingly and I don’t get many examples.  But with enough hunting I can usually turn up something nice, so we’ll see what I can do this time.  I also like pieces by Sphinx but my favourites are probably the beautifully enamelled necklaces by Matisse (which sounds French but is actually American).  What a fun job it is go hunting for lovely things.

The Eumundi Tennis Club is soon to hold a Timber Challenge, wherein only wooden tennis rackets can be used.  And in conjunction with this they are also introducing croquet and boules matches, so there will be something everyone can do and have fun doing.   We sourced a very nice 1930s croquet set for the Club, which will be used on the day.  We’ll be on the buying trip when the tournament is on, which is a pity because it is a well known fact that Douglas is a horrible cheat at croquet so he had a good chance of winning.  I’ve not been in a boules tournament before, but I’d like to have a go next year if we’re around.  Once, while driving around France, we passed a huge complex called La Bouledrome, which we figured to be the French equivalent of Mad Max’s Thunderdome, only with lots of red wine and arm waving arguments rather than chainsaw duels on motorbikes.  But still, the French take their boules quite seriously, and it was probably the case that there was only one man left standing over the bodies of his rivals at the end, in part due to how he handled his boules, and in part due to copious red wine consumption by the rivals.  It has been scientifically proven that too much red wine doesn’t stand you in good stead if you want luck with your boules.

Mischka is the Thursday Shop Manager, and apart from getting entirely underfoot and trying to trip and kill us while we restyle the window, she’s a sweetheart.  Even though she is the schmooziest pussycat ever and demands constant cuddles and stroking, she will not sit on my lap except while in the shop.  In the shop when she’s not knocking out zeds she’s taken to sitting across my lap, positioned so she can see the door, keep a weather eye on the bit of wall where the gecko most often makes his appearance, and obtain maximum scratching along her back.  I feel like a total Bond villain greeting people as they come into the shop while stroking the cat on my lap.  Welcome to my secret lair shop, Mr Bond.  I’m more old school Goldfinger than Dr Evil, but Mischka still has a lot to learn as a villainous offsider.  A proper malevolent moggie, for example, does not throw herself at visitors’ feet for a belly rub - not unless she is actually planning a diabolical grab-and-maul tactic that will result in shrieking and bloodloss from her victims.  Lolling about on the floor and purring your head off while being admired and tickled is the wrong look.  We’ll work on it.

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