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.