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.

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