Thursday, 31 July 2014

One fat lady

Juliana was on the rotund side and was somewhat the laughing stock of the skinny vintage ladies whom she met at fairs.  She was a latecomer to the vintage scene, but had eagerly tried to conform to its unspoken rules in the hope of blending in as part of the pack. 

Rule One - thou shalt always dress in a linen dress, smock, floral or gauzy garment.
Sadly, Juliana's ample frame was ill-suited to the floating waftiness of the most desirable garments.  She had found a dressmaker who obliged by making her XXXL sized dresses, out of cheap and colourful linen.  Her bulky form strained the seams on these creations, designed for thinner and lither ladies.  Juliana's sack like garments were at least comfortable and hid a multitude of sins.  She was oblivious to the fact that she looked like a galleon in full sail in her linen garb, particularly on a windy day.

Rule Two - in wet weather or muddy conditions, thou shalt wear Hunter wellies. 
As her stocky calves were not accommodated by Hunters, designed for slim, aristrocratic horsey legs,  Juliana was on a mission.  Her quest was to find boots that could slip over her large feet and chunky calves. Hours were spent on the Internet tracking down the elusive wide-fitting boots.  Her delight in completing her vintage uniform, by securing a pair of boots that could be eased on to her stubby legs, was boundless.  And Chunky Monkey, the boot suppliers, were assured of her lifelong custom.

Rule Three - thou shalt have long hair tied up casually in a chic French knot secured by a pencil. 
Juliana's hair was her pride and joy, regularly maintained by Sylvestro, the excitable Italian hairdresser at The HairPlace.  But her beautifully cut and coloured hair was no match for the wispy golden curls or shiny blonde curtains of her fellow traders.  Juliana's attempts at growing her hair were unsuccessful, as her thick tresses became bushier and wilder as they grew. Sylvestro was not about to allow his client to appear like a badly-kept hedge and ruthlessly pruned Juliana's locks into a more practical style, with cries of "bella, bella" as she emerged from his ministrations.  She ws never quite sure how "bella, bella" she really was.

Rule Four - all stock on the stall shalt be pastel or white, linen, distressed, shabby chic, floral, French or combination thereof. 
Juliana aspired to having a stall styled exactly the same as her counterparts.  But she was inexorably drawn to the complete opposite preferring dark wood, obsolete and obscure items of kitchenalia, heavy garden ornaments and funny old toys and books.  Mixed in with this were a few sundry items on the "must have" list, but these sat uneasily amongst the weird and wonderful artefacts on her stall.  Embarrassed by her peculiar stock, some organisers would locate Juliana in an out-lying corridor or in a dark corner to hide her from the customers.

Rule Five - all dogs shalt be worshipped and adored. 
Juliana's household consisted of  five whippets and one husband; and all of the dogs slept on her bed. Charles, her long-suffering husband had moved into the spare room, as he could no longer face the broken sleep created by fidgeting hounds. Dogs were her passion, to the extent that her life was spent raising funds for all kinds of obscure dog-related causes, when she was not out buying her random range of stock.  Occasionally, she would bring a dog or two to the fair with her, to spend the day running in and out of the hall at their whims and fancy.  Her interest in customers was vastly increased if they had a dog in tow; the opposite with small children.

Rule Six - thou shalt only eat one piece of cake at each fair. 
Juliana loved the tea and cake aspect of every fair, and her regular position near the tea room was a happy accident.  Starting the day with a cheese scone, moving on to the homemade quiche, finishing with a massive piece of Coffee and Walnut sponge,  her profits were often frittered on refreshments.  Not only the tea and cake, but any artisan food provider would be sure to enjoy her custom.  Her fridge was full of homemade pates, pies and salads - often not nearly as nice as they looked and usually bought at twice the price of the local deli. 

Juliana frequently hired a man with a van to bring her curious collection of stock to the fair.  Wrestling with large garden urns and solid pieces of furniture was not to be endured.  Luckily, she found a marvellous little man, Tony, who was willing to load his enormous van, drive to the fair and unload the stock all for a reasonable price.  The downside was that Tony was always over-booked, so the loading and unloading was always done at top speed, often with dire consequences for fragile pieces.  Tony, and his lanky sidekick Kev, were oblivious to Juliana's cries and warnings as they clattered boxes and furniture out of the van.  Anything very precious would travel in her car, to be unloaded after the Two Men in a Van had departed.  She was worried about upsetting her hired hands.

Once the stock was disgorged, it would take Juliana at least two hours to arrange it into a pleasing display. The process involved much huffing and puffing, a very red face and frequent stops for water.   She didn't quite have the knack of styling of her vintage sisters and so her displays might hit or miss the mark spectacularly.  Her hastily gathered bunch of wildflowers was her token attempt to prettify the stall, by contrast to the artfully prepared flower arrangements and copious greenery featuring on other stalls.  By some miracle she would be ready as the doors opened, but the colour of boiled beetroot from her efforts.

Once the doors were opened, the ladies that lunch and the yummy mummies would whisk by her stall, eyes drawn to piles of cushions or tiny handmade fairies temptingly displayed elsewhere. Very occasionally, she would make a sale to one of the most selective ladies and this small triumph would be celebrated with the reward of an extra cake.  But by some means or another, Juliana did have her own loyal following and frequently managed to sell a large quantity of her pieces.  Packing up was so much easier with less to take home; Tony would turn up and load the remaining items in a trice.  Meantime, Juliana would be saying her goodbyes hoping that she might be invited to the pub with the other ladies.  As no invitation was forthcoming, her day would end with feet up, enjoying fish and chips in front of Coronation Street - eyeballed by five greedy whippets waiting for their scraps.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The pop-up tea shoppe

Visitors to the monthly DecorativeVintage Fair came in two categories.  Firstly, there were the avid vintage-hunters firmly focussed on tracking down the most beautiful and useless of vintage knick-knacks available. For them, food was but a distraction from their noble cause.  The second and larger group, were those that regarded a trip to the fair as a chance to indulge in some highly calorific, sugar-saturated and unhealthy treats.  The lure of the pop-up tea shoppe was like that of a rancid, water-logged tennis ball to a Labrador, totally irresistible.  The organisers of DecorativeVintage knew that if the cake ran out there would be revolution in the ranks of Middle Englanders but finding reliable and professional caterers was a challenge only slightly less difficult than balancing the National Debt.

In the early days of the fair, the local WI ladies had been persuaded to come and run the catering operation.  Their cakes enjoyed legendary status in the village. The gremlins in the tea urn were too much in awe of the WI Dragons to play their usual tricks and jinxes.  All had run smoothly, with slick sandwich preparation, fabulously flaky pastry for the sausage rolls, and sumptuously iced sponge cakes on display.   That is until the issue of crockery had arisen.  The WI insisted on using the crested china supplied by the village hall - probably orginating from the 1890s when the hall was built.  Unfortunately, due to excessive breakages of the precious china, the over-officious Village Hall Catering Sub-Committee had insisted that paper tableware be used for the event.  This did not sit well with the WI, who to a woman refused to serve their tasty creations and carefully stewed hot drinks on anything less than earthenware, with bone china the preferred option.  The Committee were inflexible on this issue, causing a schism in the village,  not seen since the days of The Great Drama Society Feud.  Thus, the WI resigned as event caterers leaving the organisers in a dreadful panic with only weeks to go before the next event. 

The vacancy was filled by Cressida, a wannabe Vintage Wedding and Party Caterer who started her business, having collected together a mass of pretty china for her own wedding and needing an excuse to use it.  Cressida had done a Cordon Bleu course after leaving school and had run the Directors' Dining Room at a private bank whilst living in Notting Hill .  Her new business, Let Them Eat Cake, was just so exciting - she loved meeting all the brides and visiting all the wedding venues.  She was simply dying to get out her lovely baking books and fuscia pink silicon bakeware to create marvellous treats for the vintage fair - it would make a change from all the seafood vol-au-vents and mini-Yorkshire-puddings-with-beef.  Cressida was a School Path mummy and coffee-morning friend of the fair organiser, who had little choice but to give her the job.

Cressida had not anticipated the sheer volume of customers that would be lining up for her exquisitely made Pomegranate Drizzle Cake or Roast Vegetable and Quinoa tartlets.   Whilst her food looked stunning, service was tortoise-slow, as her only helper, Jacintha, dithered and flustered under the pressue of the ever-mounting queue.  Jacintha had only been roped in at the last minute and was rather peturbed at the vast mountain of washing up that was already building on every available clear surface. None of Cressida's other girls were available.  Cressida clearly had no intention of doing anything such as washing-up or clearing pots,  her role as "chef" precluded such lowly work. Grimly, Jacintha set-to, handwashing all the lovely vintage bone china, with Cressida frequently reminding her to "be careful with that".  The working relationship between the two ladies was finally severed when Jacintha managed to break the Royal Doulton milk jug that had been Cressida's grandmonther's wedding gift.  And the fair organisers could no longer countenance such massive queues of frustrated and hungry customers blocking the aisles to the vast irritation of the sellers.  Cressida stepped-down from her tea room duties, before she was asked to resign and honour was duly saved on all sides.

The next tea shoppe incarnation came in the form of two sweet but rather ineffectual girls from the village.  These were not School Path mummies, but younger girls who were keen to earn some extra money.  Chloe and Lara had boundless enthusiasm, but with little or no catering experience were as useful as a chocolate teapot.  Luckily, the organisers brought in mounds of food and all the girls had to do was serve it up, make the drinks and clear the decks.  Unfortunately, neither girl could add up in their heads and without the benefit of an electric till or calculator, their sums were somewhat erratic.  The profits were considerably down, as customers were either under-charged or given the wrong change. A lot of giggling and chatting, and fiddling on mobile phones, impaired the speed and efficiency of service.  Both girls were more than happy to use paper plates and had no concept of cleaning as they went along.  By the end of the fair, the kitchen was knee deep in rubbish.  As a social experiment on "how the young would survive if left to their own devices" it was interesting; but a bit of a failure in terms of customer service and profit!  Back to the drawing-board.

The poor fair organiser's quest for the impossible was finally resolved, when the services of a very efficient, friendly and competent caterer were secured.  The details of how this paragon was located were kept closely guarded, for fear of poaching by other organisers.  No more broken crockery, snake-like queues of hungry punters, over-cooked shop bought quiche or insipid tea.  Just the hum and buzz of happy people, enjoying delicious homemade cake washed down by a nice cup of tea.  Finally, the organisers could relax and enjoy a piece of coffee and walnut sponge - truly, a just dessert.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The perpetual browsers

Mr and Mrs Jolly loved a nice drive out to a country fair, particularly if it could be combined with a slap-up afternoon tea to keep Mr J "onside".  They lived in an enormous "executive home" in suburbia, built in the 80s and characterised by its characterlessness.  Mrs J was keen to make a move to their final "forever home" ie a romantic country cottage.  "Rural Escape" was her very favourite TV programme and thoughts of "a-cosy-snug-with-an-open-fire" "a kitchen-diner with an island" "space for chickens" and "a beautiful view" were never too far from her mind.  Plus, she had a bit of a crush on the dapper presenter, Alistair Hudson.  Their trips to VintageDecor, and other such events, were research trips for when they finally acquired their country idyll.  Mrs J was in love with the whole shabby chic concept, providing it wasn't too dusty or grimy or rustic.  Mr J was more into minimalism, with no enthusiasm for knick-knacks, tchotchkes, floral curtains or chintzy cushions.  But as Mrs J ruled the interior roost with a rod of iron, his wishes were largely unheeded in matters of decor and furnishings.

Their trips to local vintage fairs and markets were numerous, but until they found "the house of our dreams" a strict embargo was maintained on purchases.  This did not dent Mrs J's enthusiasm and passion or diminish her downright gushing over each and every item on display.  It would take hours for her to examine the array of hand-embroidered linen cushions, decorative hand-painted china, not-too shabbily painted chests and cupboards not to mention all the pretty planted-out tin baths, dented watering cans and lumps of garden statues.  Stallholders would get excited, sensing big sales as she oohed and aahed over their temptingly displayed wares.  "Darling, just look at this pretty little table/cushion/lavender bag" she would coo to the long-suffering Mr J.  Enquiries would be made about provenance, price, the possibility of delivery of many an object - her interest could not be beaten by any genuine customer. Drawers would be opened and closed, cupboards minutely examined for woodworm, tables wobbled, chairs sat on, cushions plumped - a veritable vintage assault course. The stallholder by now could almost taste a massive sale, mentally working out the space available in their car to take home an impulse purchase of an armchair made earlier in the day.

Alas, it was not to be.  Having built the stallholder to a crescendo of expectation, Mrs J would dash hopes with her much-used excuse, "Oh, but we are downsizing - and I must be really, really good and not buy anything else!".  Sometimes,  a much vaguer promise would be made, "I'm just going to look round, but I will come back - I so love the xxxxxx (insert name of item as necessary).  Mr J would heave an inward sigh of relief but had the sense not to make any comment.  Had he raised an objection to the item, Mrs J would have to purchase it on point of principle!  The savvy stallholder would realise that the sale had slipped from their lifeless grasp and would refuse to engage in any further chit-chat about "your lovely stock" or possible discounts.  The newbie trader, however, would believe the promise of a return and the mouth-watering prospect of a large sale, at least until they saw the Jollys make their exit clutching nothing more than two garishly iced cupcakes from the Cake Lady.

No-one could quite remember when the Jollys had ever made a purchase other than refreshments, cakes and the occasional birthday card.  Mr J intended to keep it that way - he was very good at finding objections to every property sourced by his wife on the numerous property websites she browsed.  "Not that one, darling, we can't possibly take on a thatched cottage".  Estate agents' details clogged up their mail box, and were filed as "maybes" "yeses" or "never in a million years".  Quiet, unassuming Mr J waged his secret war and when his wife was out playing golf, somehow or another the property porn got filed to the WPB (waste paper bin AKA recycling).  And the details of a nice, easy-to-maintain bungalow would miraculously rise to the top of the pile. No shabby chic or "space for chickens" for him.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The seasoned dealers..

Jane and Trevor were old-school antiques dealers, in the trade for 30 years.  They were now enjoying a renaissance in fortunes at the plethora of vintage and decorative fairs in their home county.  Having lived through many fads and fashions their radar was tuned to anything that could be bought and sold at a profit.  Jane was the brains, Trevor the brawn of the outfit, and their trusty white van, Boudicca, could be seen trundling the roads from boot sale to auction on a regular basis.  They rather turned their noses up at the new traders to the market - the eager young blondes, hunting in pairs for prettily distressed furniture and French enamelware and the wealthy ladies having a dabble.  They'd seen it all before and enjoyed a good old rant with other old hands about how prices were being pushed up, nothing good to buy any more...blah, blah blah....Moaning actually made them really happy.

Their house would have made an interesting anthropological study of the hoarding habits of the Great British Public, with its many strata of long-neglected collections, dog-eared Millers's price guides, yellowing old copies of Antiques Trade Gazette and Collect Stuff magazine.  Boxes of stock were piled precariously in hallways and the kitchen, with only a narrow path available to the kettle, sink and microwave.  Partially completed restoration projects cluttered the living room - stripped down chairs, bare of upholstery; broken ceramics waiting to be pieced together and half polished or painted furniture.  Verdigrised copper kettles and tarnished brass knick-knacks decorated their massive inglenook fireplace.  Ropes of cobwebs hung from every corner, safe from the attentions of Jane's rather intermittent housework programme.

Having cottoned on that "vintage" "shabby chic" and French style were de rigeur amongst the smart ladies who visited fairs, J&T ruthlessly hunted down stock across the county and beyond.  Jane had an amazing knack of being first at the back of any promising vehicle at a boot sale, using her sharp elbows to ward off competition from the less gung-ho buyers.  Trevor's bulk came in useful to block access, whilst she cross-examined the sellers about their goods "Got any French any any old bits".....Sellers, too traumatised by the pack of dealers slavering at their boots to unpack, were only too pleased to sell all their best stuff to her.  When not at boot sales, the couple would frequent local auctions, bidding up unsuspected newcomers and securing boxes of mis-matched china in the quest for one or two decent items.  Occasionally, they would be able to buy privately from an estate sale - but they kept this hush-hush from all their dealer friends.  It helped that Trevor played golf with a solicitor and estate agent on a regular basis.

Their latest source of goods involved long trips to France, covering innumerable kilometres in Boudicca to out-of-the way markets and brocantes.  Without knowing a word of French, Jane would negotiate with gusto - the natives stood no chance against her.  Trevor would haul back the day's treasures - enormous armoires, bottle driers, shutters, enamel, clocks and heaps of dusty linen.  Both would then sit down and enjoy a slap-up French meal before their long journey home.  Trevor did all the driving and held the strong belief that women drivers were the scourge of the road.  Jane was quite content navigating and back-seat driving.

Their stand at any fairs was always somewhat unusual - whilst the shabby chic and French items were prominent, odd items from back-dated stock would also appear.  These old friends were hauled from fair to fair, with the vain hope that someone might finally buy them.  If a hard won sale was made, Jane would be hard-pushed to hide her glee.  The other, younger and less-experienced traders, were quite in awe of the couple, although they never invited them to the pub aftewards for a post-show drink. 

Jane and Trevor would often speculate on "how long can this vintage thing last" and would be beadily looking around at other dealers' stands to spot the next Big Thing.  Jane just wished that brown furniture and brass would come back so they could clear their garage of ancient stock and actually put the lawnmower away. Trevor just wanted a quiet life and more time for golf.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The children came too....

Anoushka, or Noushi Noo-Noo as her Mummy and Daddy called her, appeared to be a perfectly cherubic little girl. Her white-gold hair and enormous blue eyes disguised her shrewd and criminal cunning at gaining the upper hand. Noushi's Mummy, Claudia, was so thrilled to have a little angel who could be dolled up in smocked dresses and leggings with Mary-Jane shoes, mostly in pink.  Claudia was a regular customer at at the Vintage Living fair held in Little Bunting and little Noushi was always by her side, causing untold havoc.  But recently, things had rather changed and Noushi's nose was very much out of joint.  A new arrival, a chubby little boy named Alfie, was taking up rather a lot of Mummy's time and attention.  Noushi was not taken in by her parents' assurances that Alfie was going to be her "dear little friend" or that she was going to be "a very special big sister". 

Claudia was so keen to trawl for vintage bargains, that rather unwisely she decided to take Noushi and Alfie along with her to the Vintage Living fair.  Her husband, Seb, was far too busy with his "work" to be looking after his offspring, despite his affectations as a New Man and thus, totally at one with changing nappies, bottle feeding and general toddler wrangling.  Noo-Noo was wrestled into the giant Landrover styled double pushchair - designed to go across Arctic tundra and tropical rainforest - neither of which were very prevalent in Little Bunting.  She demanded the front seat, her body an unyielding plank, until her Mummy caved in to her superior will.  Alfie was transported in a fashionable "BabyHammock" splayed across Claudia's chest like a tiny koala.  Having loaded up with baby changing kit, spare clothes, toys and snacks, Claudia walked from her charming cottage, to Little Bunting village hall, home of the Vintage Living fair.  Other mummies would join her en route, similarly laden like Sherpas on an Everest expedition. 

Upon their arrival at the hall, Claudia exhorted Noushi "not to touch anything, darling" - this fell on deaf ears, as Noushi touched exactly what she wanted with no restraint.  The heavy pram steered perilously through the throng of chattering ladies and narrow walkways lined with wonky furniture, heavy garden ornaments and towers of textiles.  Progress was snail-like, often further complicated by some mummies coming the other way causing a gridlock amongst the stalls.  Meantime, Noushi had a lovely time and played with all the pretty things within reach of her sticky, chubby yet deft fingers. A cornucopia of knick-knacks were picked up and tucked into the pushchair seat or simply dropped on the floor, when Noushi became bored.  Claudia was blind to the chaos under her nose, as she bathed in the adulation paid to her firstborn son. "Oh what a dear little man" and "He's a proper little boy" as the stallholders competed to pay Alfie the most inane compliment of the day.

Baby Alfie, oblivious to his surroundings and admiring public, howled like a coyote having spotted a shiny red toy train amongst the piles of bric-a-brac.  Of course, the toy was totally unsuitable for a babe in arms, coated in a livery of lead paint and designed with ferocious metal corners perfect for serious injury. As he wriggled and yelped, Alfie was carried out by Claudia, leaving the mammoth puschair blocking all pedestrian access.  This abandonment was the cue for Noushi to behave really badly, when she realised that at last she was free of her Mummy's control.  Unbeknownst to Claudia, Noushi released herself from the pushchair harness and began her Reign of Terror.

Noushi and her "best friend at nursery", Tilly,  played a lovely game of Racing around the Hall slipping, sliding and skating on the well-polished floorboards.  The girls' excitement and volume of shrieks spiralled, with the perils of toppling tables, crashing chairs and cascades of stock adding a new element to the game.   Stallholders scowled at the uncontrolled antics of the two little hoodlums, muttering "breakages MUST be paid for" to one another in a glow of self-righteousness.

Eventually, Claudia returned with a pacified Alfie and at last halted the mayhem.  "Darlings, please stop - let's go and have a lovely cake".  Noushi and Tilly were easily bought off as long as their demands for a "big piece of choccy cake" were met.  Alfie avidly sucked down his milk, which he then promptly sicked up all over Claudia's handmade linen frockcoat.  Claudia  recognised defeat and decided to make for home, but not before a further battle was enacted with a defiant Noushi who had set her sights on an old and battered bunny rabbit toy.  "But I really wa-aa-aa-aa-nntt it", Noushi sobbed, gearing up to have an epic tantrum.  Having paid £20 for the tatty object, Claudia finally dragged Noushi away with precious bunny toy in her iron grasp. 

Once they had departed, the hall was at last restored to a picture of calm and decorum.  Only at the end of the day was there further drama, when several stallholders realised that a number of tiny objects were no longer in their keeping.  Back at the cottage, Claudia discovered the extent of Noushi's kleptomania when she found a cache of small items secreted in the pushchair linings.  Claudia's account of her visit to the fair fell on unsympathetic ears as Seb fiddled with his tablet and mobile simultatneously.  His helpful suggestion "Darling, next time get Granny to go with you" was rewarded by the sight of Claudia storming out of the house with the car keys, finally leaving him in sole charge of his by now rather smelly son and heir and a grizzling Noushi.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The stallholder's dog

Hugo, the smooth haired dachsund, went everywhere with Cordelia, sole proprietor of All Things Bright and Beautiful.  He was quite a regular feature at Russsetshire vintage and antique fairs and was always dressed for the occasion.   As a stallholder's dog, Hugo was allowed special treatment  and access all areas,  denied to the common-or-garden labradors, whippets and terriers who visited CountryVintage Living fairs. Hugo suffered from small dog syndrome, believing himself to be at least twice as large and scary than any other dog in town. He was less than keen on sharing the space around his human's stall.  A rumbling growl would emmanate from under the table, should any other canine dare to sniff at his garden urns or galvanised baths, or even put a paw into the 12 Mile Dog Exclusion Zone.

Hugo was also the star of his very own "Dogbook" page, where his latest antics and activities would be lovingly described.  Cordelia adopted a very special style of writing for Hugo's "voice".  Hugo is "very actually quite a busy dog" and delegates the diarising of his busy social whirl to Cordelia, his willing slave.

Cordelia loved to spoil  Hugo, her "precious furbaby" and he possessed a wardrobe that would put Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen to shame.  His winter attire consisted of tailored coats of Harris tweed, naturally, created with as much care as a Savile Row tailor by Dapper Dogs.  Or a Barbour raincoat lined with softest Scottish cashmere, for inclement weather.  Summer outfits were equally flamboyant with a special blazer designed for formal wear and number of doggie T-shirts with witty slogans for dress-down days.  Hugo bore the dressing and undressing with placid good nature, recognising that he received far more treats and attention when dressed up.  His fancy dress wear was a legend - he had Superhero costumes, a Reindeer outfit for Christmas and an Easter Chick bright yellow fluffy fleece.All of which endeared him to ladies and small children and garnered him treats a-plenty.

The stallholders adored Hugo -he was the object of much fawning, petting and baby talk " how is ickle baby Hugo today" they would coo.  However, noone wanted to be on the adjacent stall - customers would be browsing but on catching sight of darling Hugo, would drop any item and move immediately to admire the tiny dog.  Many sales were lost in this way.  Cordelia, however, was quids in - her special range of handmade dog treats beautifully packed into Kilner Jars with bespoke dachshund-shaped labels - went down a storm.  And rather conveniently, Hugo would do well when purchasers proffered him a treat from the just-purchased jar. 

Once the initial bout of Hugo-worship abated, he would curl up on his custom-made dog bed - French ticking upholstery - for a lovely sleep.  He would dream of chasing rabbits and running across enormous fields, naked in his fur leading a pack of slavering hounds.  Naturally, he would catch his prey and be the hero of the hour.

At the end of every market, Hugo would be bundled into the footwell of Cordelia's over-loaded car squashed between plants, a handbag and precariously loaded stock.  He enjoyed sniffing and chewing woodwormy bits of furniture, redolent of old French chiens from centuries past!  Disappointingly, Cordelia did not share his delight in this activity, or indeed allow him free reign amongst her stock.  Sometimes, Hugo reflected, it's a dog's life!