31 July 2013

Will it be France or will it be Prison? I pick France.

Calypso is almost 2 and Caleb has just turned 1,
so you'd think that our toilet rolls would be
safe from wanton destruction by now.  But no. 
My only two suspects in this investigation are
both spotted.

Things have been moving at a cracking pace since I last blogged.  Just as an aside, let me say that I have taken to sleeping in like that.  How nice to be able to stretch and lounge and have breakfast in bed rather than dash about to get the shop open at the ridiculous hour of 8am.  It just wasn’t natural.  So that’s part of the good news (more of that later).

If you have seen real Lea Stein bakelite jewellery
you can always tell the reproductions.  They're
colourful, but not in the same league.  These
ones were at an antiques fair at the Gold Coast.
In the meantime, I know I said I would not dwell on the unpleasantness in my life lately.  Unless there were further developments. 
So how’s this for a development:  Anton the Landlord wants me to give him money or write nice things about him (or both, I suspect) on the grounds of defamation.  Apparently my blog has such an enormous world-wide readership that his good name has been rooned, rooned I tell you, on an enormous, world-wide scale.  Thank you, enormous world-wide readership for being there for me.  So anyway, he has lawyered up and got himself a Big City Sydney Lawyer to write a couple of threatening letters to me. 

This is an interesting way of
displaying jewellery, but not
very effective if you actually
want to sell your pieces.
Also seen at the Gold Coast
antiques fair.
Now I’m only a small town antiques dealer and I don’t have the counsel of a Big City Sydney Lawyer.  But here’s the thing about defamation – in Australian law it is a complete defence if your comments are substantially true – let alone demonstrably true.  So you can bleat all you like about someone reporting on your actions, but as long as that reporting is true you can’t sue for defamation.  Well you can, but you’ll lose and then have to pay the court costs for all involved.  But Anton the Landlord has applied his fiendish logic to the matter and has nonetheless instructed his Big City Sydney Lawyer to threaten me.  Twice. 

Now I’m only a small town antiques dealer without the counsel of a Big City Sydney Lawyer, but here’s a sneak peek at what we might expect at the Trial of the Century:

Are the following points true?

1.      Does the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 really exist?  Check.

2.      Does the Act instruct that the lessor of a retail premises (that would be Anton the Landlord) must provide a variety of confidential commercial information to the lessee within a stipulated period?  Check.

3.      Did Anton the Landlord fail to meet this legal obligation?  Check.
4.      Was Malcolm the spineless-blithering-liar able to weasel out of his lease with Anton the Landlord because this legal obligation was not met?  Check.

5.      Did Malcolm the spineless-blithering-liar's lawyer write to Anton the Landlord to tell him this?  Check.

6.      Did Anton the Landlord give me a copy of this letter, providing the physical evidence himself of his own failure to meet this legal obligation?  Unbelievably, that’s a Check.  Some people have commented that this was an inexplicably stupid thing for Anton the Landlord to have done.  I say that I have nothing but thanks and gratitude and praise for the wondrous mind that is Anton the Landlord’s to command.

7.      Did Anton the Landlord’s failure to meet this legal obligation provide the loophole that Malcolm the spineless-blithering-liar used to void the whole arrangement with the sale of my shop?  Check.

I only liked a couple of things at the Gold
Coast antiques fair, and naturally they
were both the most expensive
things there.  $2500 for a rolled oats
jar was a bit too much for my budget. 
Now I’m only a small town antiques dealer who doesn’t have the counsel a Big City Sydney Lawyer, so can anyone tell me why Anton the Landlord would claim any of the above isn’t true when he knows that a range of documents exist that prove it to be true? 
If legislation really exists and you really have legal obligations that must be met under it, and no-one but you can meet those obligations, but you didn’t, and you have provided your nemesis (that would be me) with the physical evidence that proves that you didn’t, isn’t that kind of – I dunno – indisputable?

 So why would you threaten to sue someone for defamation over comments you know to be true, and you know can be proven to be true?

Lots of things at the Pomona Antiques Fair were
also pretty expensive, but these nice little
beaded bags were remarkably good value.
I think we’ve hit the nail on the head with the word “threaten”.  You might not be able to successfully sue but there’s no harm in threatening a girl, is there?  What a charmer.  But I will not be bullied into silence when a significant wrong has been done to me, and I can prove it.  The nonsense over the shop really happened, and the whole sequence of events - including Anton the Landlord’s starring role - are demonstrably true. 
Ignorance and incompetence has now given way to bluster and threats.  Does behaving decently just not occur to some people?  And as for Malcolm the spineless-blithering-liar, no one has seen hide nor hair of him so he's still hiding under his bed, presumably.

A book I fancied at one of the Antiques Fairs, but
it was - you guessed it - too expensive.  $250! 
Doug has been with me for some time now
and he didn't know what a strumpet is.
That's a good sign, right?
Well now, I did promise to stop talking about this issue unless there were further developments.  So here I am, promising again.  In the finest tradition of AC/DC I might be reporting on my stunningly exciting Jail Break in a few blogs from now if Anton the Landlord is proven right, and I've just been imagining the whole thing.  But until then, it’s back to talking about antiques and house building.

And so back to the good news:  the builders returned yesterday, and dug a large number of post holes that are guaranteed to have us breaking our necks the moment we next step out of the house at night.  And walking the moggies is going to be extra good fun now that Caleb has so many water-filled holes he can “accidentally” fall into.  So it appears that the Council has run out of things to hassle us about - please don’t let them be Famous Last Words - and the builders have been working incredibly hard since they arrived back on site.  You certainly can't fault their work ethic, and they’ll be working at fever pitch until 13 September, when they will have to stop for a month.

Bits and bobs at the Porte de Vanves Market,
our favourite market in Paris.
And that’s because, guess what?  We’re going on the next buying trip afterall.  It was a bit dodgy for a while, what with Malcolm the spineless-blithering-liar causing a significant issue by running off to hide under his bed and leaving us in the lurch.  But there is no doubt we are going to need new stock - good, French stock in particular – but even if we buy it in Sept/Oct it won’t arrive in Australia until December, so we have to move now.

This also happens at my house every
morning, just on a smaller scale.
Doesn't feel smaller when it's happening
 all across my bed, though.

And guess what else?  Thanks to a recommendation from Alan and Carlyle, lovely customers from our old shop, we’re having a play day at the Tiger Temple a few hours from Bangkok on the way over.  Plus an afternoon playing with elephants that will involve trekking through the jungle for a few hours and also appears to involve getting a good soaking in the river while washing your elephant.  What fun it will be, and we’re really looking forward to it.  It shall be this year’s birthday treat for me, not exactly on my birthday, when we’ll either be in London or the wilds of far southern Cornwall (haven’t decided yet), but it doesn’t matter because all dates on a September buying trip count as my birthday.

Meanwhile, we’ve had a few excursions to various antiques fairs around the region, so see if we might be interested in taking stands with them in the future.  The French Fair in Brisbane was cancelled at the last minute, so we instead went down to the Gold Coast to look at an antiques fair.  But it was too small, prices were too expensive, and lots of the stock was undeclared reproduction.  You know how I hate that.  It didn’t take long to view that fair and it was a beautiful day, so we collected some supplies and went to picnic on Broadbeach instead. 

Who wouldn't want to run as fast as they
can to the top of this mountain and then hurtle
back down it?  Sounds like a perfectly
luverley Sunday outing, dahling.
Then off to Pomona, for the King of the Mountain weekend, which involves incredibly fit and incredibly crazy people running to the top of Mt Cooroora (an incredibly big, steep hill) and back in an incredibly fast time.  But there is also an antiques fair held over that weekend, so we went for a look.  Not bad.  We can provide very different stock at very competitive prices and it’s convenient to home, so we might have a chat with the organisers to see if they have any spaces for next year.
Plenty of hotted up old cars and bikes at the
Nambour Swap Meet.  And wow
expensive antiques.
We noticed that there was a swap meet at Nambour, so we toddled off there for a look as well.  Hadn't been to a swap meet before, and I've come away still not sure what was actually being swapped.  Most things being sold were car related, and there were a variety of cool old cars and motorbikes on display as well.  Some second hand bits and bobs were also for sale, and some antiques - at enormous prices.  I remember gagging at the price of a lovely retro toaster, just right for crumpets, at the Nambour Antiques Fair a few months ago, but a similar toaster was even more expensive at the far more down-market swap meet.  I expect that toaster has been packed and unpacked a few times now, and will be for some time to come.

Good plants at good prices
at the Yandina Market.
Finally, we’ve had a few Saturday morning trips to Yandina Market, which I haven’t been able to do for years because I had to open the shop at an ungodly hour.  What a good market, probably my new favourite in the region.  Small enough that it’s easy to get around, big enough that there’s a good variety of good quality food and plants.

Now I can go market shopping, so Doug has been
showing me all his favourite stalls at the Yandina
Market.  This stall has the best ever mushrooms.


So anyway, the next little while shall be spent organising the coming buying trip.  Unfortunately we won’t have a heap of time in France, but the schedule I have in mind is very full so we should get a lot of excellent buying done.  And I’ve got some good Play Days in mind, so we’ll see what can be arranged.


12 July 2013

And another thing ....

Sharon, Fran & Kym worked flat out to help us
pack up, while Doug & Shane moved boxes
and cabinets into storage nonstop until we all
fell down exhausted.  Others called by and
offered their assistance, and for that we
thank you all.
Well our first week out of the shop was surprisingly busy.  We worked like Trojans to get the shop packed up on our last day, and if it wasn’t for the enormous help of friends and family we wouldn’t have got it done so efficiently.  And thanks, too, to the friends who dropped by to give their congratulations on selling the business but then offered to stay and help pack when they learned of the more recent developments.  It was heartening to be with lovely people, after suffering the impact of pitiful fools and incompetent, arrogant pratts for the previous week.  Yes, talking to you Malcolm and Anton – you can work out between yourselves which one is which.
The snake skin that Doug so thoughtfully popped
into one of our packing boxes to make whoever
 opened the box jump.  Yes, he's a barrel
of laughs.  And his evil plan did work.
I was going to let this go, because there is no point in letting the horrible people who pass through your life take it over.  And that’s a good thing, we all agree.  But it’s only been a week and a half and I’m still angry, so indulge me in this.  Yesterday the local community newsletter published a Letter to the Editor I had written to explain the sudden closure of our shop to the wider community.  But the Editor took out most of the salient points, which means many people are none the wiser and I have been approached in the street and asked what had been left out (because there was a note at the bottom saying that the letter had been shortened by the Editor.) 
A classic French Bally Shoes
advertisement from 1968.  I shall
be putting it on eBay over the next
few days (I hope).  Original large
posters of this image now sell
for around $600.  This one is
much smaller - from a
magazine - but is also only $34.
So here are the bits that were left out – in more detail than in my Letter to the Editor, but that’s the benefit of a Blog – I can give all the details:
.  Anton the Landlord did not provide a Disclosure Statement as his part of the lease agreement with Malcolm Smith (the proposed purchaser of the business, in case you’ve forgotten – see giant photo in the last blog).  This meant that Malcolm was able to undertake an in-bad-faith move of backing out of the lease agreement at the last moment.  Malcolm acted in an indefensibly disgraceful way, there is no doubt.  But if Anton the Landlord hadn’t been so lazy and incompetent then Malcolm would have had no choice but to proceed with the lease, and hence the purchase of my business.  Stupidly, Anton provided us with a letter to him from Malcolm’s solicitor detailing his negligence as the reason for Malcolm being able to back out of the lease.  So there no denying this - it is not hearsay or an interpretation of events – it’s all there in black and white from Malcolm’s solicitor.
This is a French fashion image featuring
Christian Dior couture, dating to 1950.
Also destined for eBay in due course
and priced at $34.

.  Sharon Gunther, the person Malcolm had offered a job as Manager of the shop, still hasn’t had the courtesy of even a phone call from Malcolm to let her know what he has done.  She turned down another job in order to take on the position Malcolm had offered her, so Malcolm’s actions have left her unemployed.  If Malcolm ever decides to crawl out from the squalor of living under his bed, it would be the decent thing to face her and apologise.  Yeah, as if.
 .   Finally, I made the point that the shop was a thriving and viable local small business, and the only reason it had closed was because of the dishonourable behaviour of one person (Malcolm John Smith). 
So that, for people who wanted to know, is an extended version of what was left out of my Letter to the Editor.
However much chaos is going on 
 around her, Mischka knows how
to relax and watch it all unfold. 
I will be taking tips from her.
Artemis has also taken the sudden influx
of storage boxes all over the house in her
As an aside, it’s interesting to consider your own reactions when bad things happen, isn’t it?  We’ve never been afraid of change – we’ve headed off to live overseas for several years, we bought the mountain stronghold when it was nothing more than wilderness and then had to quickly learn new skills like effective road building, we’ve each taken on jobs that were difficult and challenging.  But this was all good stress, and things we had decided to tackle.  When faced with bad stress imposed by others, though, my initial reaction was to just want things to be “back to normal”. 
A La Vie Parisienne cover from 1922.
This was a classic year for this
magazine and much sought after
because of the great cover art
that featured.  This cover
will be priced at $42.

I think that if Anton the Landlord’s arrogance had not matched his stupidity, and if he had shown the slightest remorse over his behaviour and offered a small gesture of goodwill, we might have been tempted to keep the shop a while longer.  Even though that probably wouldn’t have been the best path for us in the long term, in times of stress it’s tempting to stay in a comfort zone and we might have done it.  But heaven forbid that Anton the Landlord’s incompetence impact on Anton the Landlord.  So we walked, and he lost both Malcolm and us as tenants.  And from all reports he has been stomping around town, cranky that his shop is empty and gobsmacked that he hasn’t been overwhelmed by people begging to pay his extra high rent, the extraordinary body corporate fees and grossly unfair water rates for the privilege of taking on his space. 
This is a page from the Au Printemps
French Department Store Catalogue
from 1925.  Yes, we'll try it on
eBay and it will be priced at $10.
Meanwhile, a surprising number of people have approached us who know of Malcolm and his penchant for spending hours boring people to death while he details the minutiae of his life.  Even the local butcher told us that Malcolm spent hours at a time in his shop, talking incessantly about himself and not taking any hints that he needed to go away now.  The first time he came into our shop he talked nonstop about obscure bands he likes, and particularly how much he likes and admires John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols) – for three hours.  Who knew you could talk that long nonstop about anything, let alone one not-very-good singer from the 1970s?
The local bookshop manager rang and asked how we couldn’t have known that Malcolm is a wanker and a time waster.  Believe me, after our first meeting we were very aware of this.  But the thing is, every time he came into our shop – even when it was a few times a week – yes he stayed for hours but he also spent hundreds of dollars.  And even then, we did not take him seriously as a potential buyer until he signed the Contract of Sale and the Lease.  And that would have been sufficient to bind him to his word, except for the ineptitude of Anton the Landlord.
Calypso has had special walks to the jungle's
edge to make up for not going into the shop. 
She loves her special walks, even though she's
always annoyed that she's not allowed to traipse
off into the jungle and has to return to
civilization before she's ready.
I did feel particularly bad on the first Market Day when we weren’t in the shop because poor little Calypso knew that it was her day as Shop Manager – how do cats know the day and time so accurately?  So she waited expectantly at the door and then cried and cried when we went out without her.  On the first Thursday out of the shop, Caleb’s day, he repeatedly ran between me and the front door as the time came and passed for him to go into the shop.  So I did feel bad for the poor little chooks.  We received an email from Polly the Poodle’s owner, sending cyber nose kisses from Polly to Caleb.  They won’t get any more play dates, but the humans will be able to have coffee together.
Everyone has enjoyed exploring the building
site.  It took Caleb three attempts to
"accidentally" fall into a water-filled post hole.

So okay, that’s that on the shop saga.  Unless there are new developments to report I will now move on to more fun things to Blog about. 
Time to dry off in the sunshine, before
searching out the next bit of mischief.

We have done all the things we said we would since we’ve been away from the shop - breakfasts overlooking the Noosa River, movies, bought a Jeep – not the black Wrangler I wanted, but a silver Cherokee instead.  I had to put aside my “it’s not cool enough” objections because the Cherokee was in too good a condition and too good a price to walk past.  But how I hate to be sensible.  Then some work to catalogue the vintage French magazine covers and advertisements, plus the vintage jewellery now being sold at Oople, the shop a few doors up from our old shop.  How strange it seems to say that: our old shop. 

Now this is rare - it's a cover
from the French magazine
L'Illustration from 1935.  It
features a woman in a café
in Montemarte and is very
reminiscent of
Toulouse Lautrec's style.
It will be $46.

Then it was off for a play day in Brisbane, looking at the Paddington and Woolloongabba Antiques Centres to look at stock and prices.  Wow, our prices are way better and our stock more interesting.  If I say so myself.  We were dead unimpressed with the Paddington Centre – many stalls were little more than junk shops and the stock was piled so precariously that even if you spotted something of interest you wouldn’t dare go in for fear that it would all collapse on you.  And there were lots of undeclared reproduction pieces.  Lots.  We chatted with a stall-holder for a while, who told us that almost every piece of the so-called vintage clothing in the Centre was actually brand new, imported from China and just “vintage style”.  We can live without visiting there again any time soon.
The Woolloongabba Centre had more interesting stock and better prices, but still it was pretty much same-same for most stalls.  We did find a woman who had a sign up saying she undertakes buying trips to France, but most of her stock was reproduction.  Why would you travel to the other side of the planet to buy repro?  She did have a large enameled bowl, though, and although it was more expensive than I would ordinary buy it was genuine and really very nice so we bought ourselves a Now We Are Poor gift.
The large French enameled bowl with extra
thick Art Deco detailing that we bought as a 
gift to ourselves.  This bowl would have
originally had a jug to accompany it, but
it's still beautiful by itself.
Over the coming weekend we plan to visit the French Festival in Brisbane, to see if it’s somewhere we might consider taking a stand at next time.  I'll try to remember my camera.  I’ve largely shut down the current website now, with a view to building a better one soon(ish), plus I have established an eBay ID, chequeredpastantiques to sell items while we're waiting for the development of the new website.  I haven’t actually listed anything on eBay yet because I know nothing about how this system works, but I guess I’ll figure it out soon enough.  Those might be famous last words, but we’ll see.
You've all been very indulgent in staying with me while I vented about the things and people causing me grief lately, and that's been quite therapeutic in allowing me to get it out of my system, regroup and relaunch.  So, onwards it is.