Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The lone wolf - the male stallholder

All the vintage ladies loved Inigo, who was often the sole representative of his gender trading at The Vintage Loveliness market.  Whilst Inigo was quite clearly gay, and as camp as a row of tents, his predilection for outrageous statements, caustic asides and  flirtatious charm was irresistible to all but the most diehard prude.  As thin as a whip, Inigo dressed as a countryman in cords, Viyella checked shirts and a dashing cloth cap.  His summer garb consisted of a crumpled linen jacket and trousers - he would never, ever, be seen wearing a  T-shirt.  His only concession to modernity was his ancient mobile phone - a computer was beyond him. 

On arrival to set up, Inigo would be showered with kisses - "both cheeks please" and given a hero's welcome as his adoring public trilled at his every bon mot.  Inigo's aesthetic sensibilities were finely honed and he would often suppress a shudder at the sight of poorly laid out stock.    He was a self-confessed design snob and with his background in Fine Art, his taste was exquisite if somewhat left field.  Not for him the cluttered table, loaded with motley bric-a-brac or splashily painted bits of "upcycled" furniture.  Often, his stall would feature just a few beautifully styled objets d'art - quirky, unique and electic were his watchwords.  Or, he would delve into his trove of old textiles and pile up museum quality antique French toile de Jouy, English damasks and brocades, butter and coffee-coloured linens, Japanese kimonos and Indian hemp sacks.  The buyers would fall upon his stock like hungry dogs and he would often sell out within the first hour, much to the envy of his fellow traders.   He was deliberately vague about his sources and no-one had ever seen him at any local auction or boot sale, despite vigorous interrogation by his peers.

Despite his easy charm, Inigo was a man of mystery.  No-one quite knew how he survived between each vintage fair - he had no other obvious source of income nor admitted to having any kind of job.  It was only known that he lived in a converted coach house, attached to the side of the largest Victorian house in the village with his aged mother, Venetia.  Rumour had it that Venetia had been an Actress and a Beauty in her time and Inigo was her only child, the product of a short liaison with a famous director.  Unable to escape her talon-like clutches for a more conventional suburban existence, "dear, precious Inigo" was firmly attached to his mother's apron strings.   Venetia claimed that he was the only one who understood her artistic sensibilities and ensured that he was never able to leave to create an independent life.  This quite suited Inigo, who having tried a career in a leading auction house, had never quite recovered from the experience.  And as
his mother had spent her life acquiring beautiful antiques and had a wardrobe packed with designer fashion from the 50s onwards, there was no shortage of stock for his little business. 

Having sold out early on, Inigo would spend the rest of the day flitting between the over-loaded stalls, gossiping with his special ladies and then would disappear for a couple of hours to the local pub.  He stayed well clear of the posse of husbands staking out the tea room - he was unwilling to be drawn into discussions of cricket scores or politics.  Instead, the landlord of the Hedgehog and Shovel would pour him a large G&T and he could catch up on village gossip.  And as the pub was a "Venetia Free Zone", he was safe for a few hours from his demanding parent.

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