Come on you Reds June 11 2015
I am writing this entry in-between grabbed moments while on a photo shoot on my Emerald Isle. I have brought the weather with me - clear blue skies, twenty degrees in Athy are rare but very welcome! I am here because, on the strength and success of my Essentially Irish book, Hidden Ireland have asked me to produce a coffee table book. It’s a long old road from first polaroid to bookshop so I’m afraid you'll just have to wait till Spring 2016 to see the finished product. Being in Ireland is pure joy in itself but this time I have the enviable job of visiting and staying in some of Ireland’s finest hotels and guest houses and will be again half a dozen more times this year.
I have little interest in the beautiful game though it has always loomed large in my life. England's leading soccer franchise has long enjoyed a special and historic place with Ireland that long predates Roy Keane. The first Irish man to play professional soccer anywhere was Belfast man Jack Perden who played for the then little known team Newton Heath. Seventy years later, from the same city, the most gifted and beautiful boy, George Best (22 May 1946–25 November 2005) followed in his footsteps.
That a preponderance of Irishmen, (31 from the North, 32 from the Republic) have worn the United colours through the years only goes some way to explaining the attraction. While every fan has his or her own personal epiphany, there are moments that remain landmarks for all. In February 1958, on the darkest night in Manchester United’s history, when the team plane crashed at the end of a Munich airstrip, three of their first-team squad were Irish. Ten years later, on the greatest night in their history, more than a quarter of the first eleven were Irish, and one of them, the peerless Best, was the hero of a better hour. Supporters of a certain age have invested the demise of the Busby Babes in Munich with the same significance that others accord the assassination five years later of John F. Kennedy.
I grew up in an Irish house hold where the Sacred Heart & Match of the Day were equally revered. I wrote to Bobby Charlton when I was eight and received back a signed photograph. Sport breaks down boundaries so when I took my Indian boyfriend home for the first time the only thing that he and my father had in common was they were both fans - which was to be the beginning of a long relationship where they would call each other after many a match. Six years later at our wedding the old fella said, while waving a scarf, that that was the only reason he'd let him marry his daughter!
Our living room was often a gathering place to watch a match and when my son was born, the poor babe was often woken to the roar of a goal. When aged five or six he came home from school one day and suggested he might like to support a team nearer home (cannot bring myself to say the C word) he was asked if that was the case where was he going to live?!
My dream of a house in the South of France was realised eight years ago and while it is still a delight it has often been a cauchemar, for truly, ownership of a second home is the preserve of the likes of the Beckhams. But never one to be deterred by being unable to afford something, au contraire, it is my motivation. Like many restoration projects, it has been a labour of love and has evolved over time. This spring has seen the fruition of the biggest project of all so this summer we will no longer have to steal favours but will finally swim in our own pristine piscine.
Nicole de Versian was the creative director of Hermes and her garden in the Vaucluse hugely inspired my planting. I have attempted to tame nature and in the depths of wild countryside have created a manicured oasis with a five hundred year old gnarled olive tree from Spain that looks as if it has been there forever. A single cypress tree and fifty balls of lavender - interspersed with balls of stone and box which will all mature into an homage. I hope!
The house has always been available to rent to selected guests and friends, but it only gets the odd enquiry given it has never been officially advertised. Two weeks ago, I had an email from a busy, high-powered exec in Scotland who works in the corporate entertaining world specialising in sporting fixtures. There followed, as often do, a ricocheting of emails and finding out about each other - you know, ‘women's talk’. I told her about my current project, she me on the forthcoming event at Old Trafford. The banter continued; like a courtship we exchanged snippets. I told her of my travails in my French garden, she sent me pictures of her black tulips and bemoaned how hard it can be being a working girl. Curiosity piqued, three or four emails later, I find out she is organising a forthcoming charity match between Manchester United legends and Bayern Munich all-stars. She wanted to stay at my house when I planned to be there and her budget was a fair percentage below the going rate but, always up for a barter, we brokered a deal and shook e-hands. Conversation continued and I told her of my son's obsession with United (wisdom comes with age) to which she wondered if I would like a free ticket or four for said match! Would I?! It was like a gift from the gods 'cause there's not much a Mum can do for a seventeen year old that gets appreciated.
I am no athlete, I shall not be bounding up Carrauntoohil.
Rugby nor Camogie hold any attraction, swimming is my thing so cannot wait until school is out and I can get back to that lap-pool in the South. But this Sunday, I will definitely be glued to the box watching the match, straining to see my boy as he is presented to Ashley Cole on the pitch at half-time. Fortune really does favour the bold.
In between gadding about Southern Ireland and the South of France I'm pleased to report the Antique trade is alive and kicking in South London despite my absence. So lest ye forget my day job is still trouver and vendor of nice things do keep an eye on the 'ol website or better still venture down to Langton Street where the delightful, very helpful & knowledgable new girl Charlotte Adler will be very pleased to sell you these six vivid green chairs just in time for summer.
At this moment in time March 06 2015
I hate that phrase! It is sufficient to just say now, or simply at this time.
A moment is a measurement of time so it is implicit that when you're doing something, it is right then and there. There and then.
In the present.
Two things prevent us from happiness: living in the past and comparing our lives to the lives of others.
We had a fun chat and, with fingers like icicles, fumbled to exchange details.
His business card was of the stiffest quality.
Back in Blighty, I received an email from him with compliments on my esoteric stock followed with admonishments on the time-lag since my last blog entry so, without a moments hesitation, I got out my metaphorical pen to catch up and fill you in on just some of the highlights of the past three months.
Thank you Shane. I like your site too. http://robuck.co
America's great! I've been there many times but never before for Thanksgiving. On a spur of the moment invitation, we found ourselves on a last minute Virgin Atlantic flight to Boston. As we landed
(November 26th is apparently the busiest day of the year to travel) the pilot announced the first big blizzard of the winter was on its way. It might as well have been Michael Fish in the cockpit, for just as we were speeding up highway 93 to Newport, New England, the clouds turned grey and split their seams. A hair-raising ride in a four-wheel Porsche got us there in three hours. Others, in lesser motor vehicles, were stranded on the hard shoulder. By the time we reached my cousins' cabin in the woods, it was a real winter wonderland.
(as opposed to the noisy commercial Hyde Park artifice back home!)
For us Londoners, used to an occasional slushy smattering, this was magical and exhilarating.
Three feet (almost a metre!) of virgin white snow!
With out exception every one, or rather every American who I told I was going over for Thanksgiving, claimed it to be their favourite holiday - and with good reason.
I had never fully understood its significance. Simply put, it's about being, eerr…..Thank full!
Historically, it was an occasion marked by Pilgrims who had emigrated from England in the early 1600s and survived, against all odds, the unbearable hardship of their first year in the New World.
Five hundred years on, not much hardship unless you're a Turkey - it's all about Family, Food and Football! (American version)
It was my first Thanksgiving, Merci Anne and Frank.
The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1899
There is never a dull moment at the Battersea fair. January came and went in a shivery blink. Speaking for myself, business was of only modicum success, lots of smalls were sold but not enough lumps. (Consequently there is not enough room in the shop to swing the proverbial cat)
Of course, we are there to sell but it's right sociable too! Us Antique Dealers, normally working unilaterally from our homes, shops, and warehouses across the country, get to see each other, compare notes, like a work do, sporting our Sunday best.
The odd Bloody Mary is taken, mixed with bite by Megan's Kitchen. There might be a bit of in-house trading and plenty moaning and a groaning that it 'aint like it used to be! David Jurand's botanical shorts always cause comment, but hey! if you own the joint, you can come as you dam well like.
Known for being a dog-friendly event, there is always one that disgraces itself (never my Ted!)
A leg lifted on silk upholstery or a turd in the store, left for an unwitting Harvey Boy's tread, is bad enough.
This fair, poor Pug Zoro had a close escape from the taxidermists cavity syringe after scoffing a box of chocolates.
I hope Barry and Poppy had either adequate insurance or a good fair to pay the Vet's bills.
It's true dogs are very allergic to cocoa!
Celebrity spotting is always fun, though it helps if you know who the celebs are. Please note I am not interested in celebrity. I do not watch reality TV, have never bought Grazia and frankly find the obsession rather sad. If I actually recognise someone, I might be interested if I respect what they do or, of course, they buy something!
Stella Tenant, towering over me in full-length fur coat and trainers, more beautiful in the flesh than on the pages of Vogue, didn't buy anything but looked amazing.
Howard Hodgkin http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/27/howard-hodgkin-lifetime-achievement-interview frequently visits, at 83 years, now in a wheel chair and still painting his marvellous abstracts. I sold an c18th carved wooden polychrome plinth (probably from a church) to him many years ago at the Sunday monthly fair in The Horticultural Hall, Vincent Square Victoria.
I've always demurred from asking him if he still has it (and would he like to sell it back to me!) and tell him how much I absolutely adore his work.
I sold a lovely French Iron table base with an unusual hexagonal, crusty stone top to one of the richest ladies in the world but didn't know until she'd disappeared with her entourage of decorator, security guard and fair organisers that it was Ophra Winfrey! Hopefully it will be on her list of Favourite things for 2015!
It is very flattering when customers/public admire your stand, though it would be even nicer if, for every compliment, a credit card (or cash!) were proffered!
I sometimes think I should've been a florist - if every bloody person who admired the mimosa (click on image) had made a donation, I would've covered my stand costs!
Speaking of blossom, before you can say c19th re-painted French Serpentine Commode, British Summer time (March 29th) will be back (hooray!) The park will be in its spring glory and the next fair on April 21st will be upon us.
Smell the roses!
Discussing religion or politics will always run the risk of alienating someone, so I tread very lightly in publishing any views here for fear of upsetting any punters of differing opinion to mine and possibly losing a sale!
I am frequently asked if I am Religious. My standard response is I am not practising but, having been brought up as an Irish Catholic and educated by (kind) Nuns, it is engrained in one's psyche. Culturally, it never leaves you.
My selling of Madonnas and Crucifixes for which I have become known should never be judged as a bench mark of my piety.
I find them beautiful objects of artistic merit that sit well in any domestic interior. I frequently sell to heathens.
Respect of other peoples belief and faith is core to living harmoniously in our multi-cultural world, however in my opinion this should not preclude a sense of humour, which should always be tolerated.
Father Ted, irreverently funny, is my all-time favourite television show.
The terrorists who charged the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris on January 7th clearly have a different set of morals and no sense of humour whatsoever.
Journalists in France called on their colleagues in newsrooms everywhere to hold a moment of silence for those killed in the Paris terror attack.
"When journalists are killed, it is done to make an entire profession feel fear; it is done to silence. Attacking a newspaper is an attempt to muzzle the freedom of expression that exists in a democracy."
Funny then that the satirical magazine that most of us had never heard of before became a block buster sell out - its normal print run of 60,000 soared to five million and is now a household name!
A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a talk at The Business Design Centre in Islington with a brief on how to be ‘Be a Successful Vintage Hunter’.
They, Country Living magazine, gave me a list of pointers on subjects to cover.
I needed them, having never spoken on a podium before, felt completely out of my depth.
I had fun putting a slide show together, then felt emboldened as I followed Alastair Sawday, travel writer, who I have frequently turned to when looking for somewhere interesting to stay.
People who heard me have since said how much they enjoyed what I had to say.
One of the headers was 'Social Media'. At that point, I had just become fluent in writing emails, had only recently learnt that surfing was not about taking my board to Cornwall for the weekend, that Facebook was something for my children where, under no circumstances whatsoever, should I try to be their friend. When I was a kid, my social network was called "outside" That is still somewhere I prefer to be! But, like most of us, have become increasingly attached to my iPhone, lap top and t'internet.
I was in RSoles recently, the wonderful boot shop on Chelsea's Kings Road, established in 1975. Talking to owner Douglas Birney, together we bemoaned the downturn in footfall and the change in being a shop keeper.
Infact, after 40 years, one of the last stylish boutiques on what has become yet another dull British high street will close its doors for the last time this coming June to trade solely on the net. http://rsoles.com
The increase in rents and the general change in our shopping habits means the likes of myself and traders like Douglas will have to get with it and embrace a new way of doing business if we are to survive.
So, to those of you who are reading this and heard my talk that day, I was not fibbing, I had not tweeted https://twitter.com/AntiqueRyan pinned https://www.pinterest.com/belvezet/ nor blogged back then, but from this moment on, if I want to continue being that successful dealer, then social media I must embrace thee!
For a Rolls Royce example of how the Antiques trade has taken on the twenty first century, see Lorfords new website http://www.lorfordsantiques.com
Bravo Toby and Leslie
Some folks like going to the cinema, others the theatre. Me, I like nothing more than the excitement of live loud music. Like
John Peel http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04g785v don't have enough time to hear all that music out there as it is.
Got to hear these three bands lately. The first, my long time favourite, Mike Scott and the Waterboys at The Round House in Camden. Like Bruce and Demi, the civilised exes that we are, I went with my first husband! Horace had to suffer the dentist's brutality of root canal treatment that day, so just wasn't up to it.
The new album doesn't disappoint but no song has the heartlifting quality that makes you want to leap like a dervish to
Don't bang the drum
Next excitement was an American band, The Decemberists from Portland Oregon, who put on a mesmeric alive show in Brixton at the Academy.
Track three on their new album 'What a terrible World, What a beautiful World' is hysterical.
Listen carefully to the lyrics of Philomena.
Not to be confused with Judi Dench, lead of last year's brilliant but tragic film of the same name, unless of course you fancy giving tête to a Dame!
I wish I could've embraced the gorgeous Adam Granduciel!, vocalist, guitarist and sometime harmonica player of Philadelphia band The War on Drugs who also played the Academy last week. Enjoyed it so much, I went to their second gig again this week!
I discovered them last summer at a late night performance at Latitude festival in Suffolk and was smitten! Their 3rd album, Lost In the Dream, is fantastic in a Dylanesque, Pink Floydy, Waterboysey ultimately War on Drugsy sorta way.
Lost in the dream
Or just the silence of a moment
It’s always hard to tell
Down in the way
They cut it open and they sold it
It’s always hard to tell
It was literally my favourite album of last year,
Now don't get me started on literally……...
Mail on Sunday December 14 2014
There's no bad publicity except an obituary notice!
Sunday 14th December 2014
Quixotic! November 16 2014
November is my month!
I seem to have lots of scorpions in my life but always think I am the head honcho being born on the first day! Which is of course All Saints Day, an important date in the christian calendar. I love that my birthday was always a holiday weekend in Ireland. Don't much like the clocks going back but misty dog walks in the woods are of the season.
Mrs B the second credited for her productions! Nepotism always rules.
Such a great sounding word I looked it up as soon as I got to the shop
Gracias a La Vida September 26 2014
How time flies.
Here is my second blog posting. Bruce Springsteen was 65 yesterday, I know! preposterous.
I have been doing the Decorative Fair for twelve years now so give or take a few days and forgiving my appalling arithmetic I reckon I have spent a whole year of my life in that marquee.
What a wonderful year!
When my parents were the age I have now reached it seemed to me their social life revolved around going to funerals!
The ol' fella would chuckle to himself as he read the obituary pages in the Limerick Leader to check to see if he'd died!
He did, thirteen years ago.
There is only one thing sure in life and that's death & taxes, yet we are always surprised when it come's knocking on our door & that brown envelope from HMRC plops through it.
This month has seen the passing of two friends & the finest of Antique dealers
Beautiful Maxime Cassagnes,
H er house is featured in Essentially French. She died at home unexpectedly four days after her 68th birthday.
Greatly respected and the kindest most genteel of men, Zal Davar at nearly 79, after a long illness, also passed away.
He will be sorely missed.
On my first visit to India many years ago I sat among my new in laws huddled around an air conditioning unit, the conversation revolving around the weather, sari wearing Masi's bemoaned the soaring heat as if it was something new to them!
Those aunts, seven Chowdhury sisters were formidable women, now ageing and dwindling but live on through their progenies, two of whom are my raison d'etre.
I thought it was just in Britain (or more accurately Ireland) that it was such an all consuming subject but actually it is a global subject and the most pointless of conversations because we can do absolutely nothing about it!
'Everywhere you go always take the weather with you'
Scandinavia had their best summer in years while in France the wine makers in the midst of the vendange are bemoaning a poor yield after the worst ete in cinquante annees. Back home the Indian Summer continues which allows no excuses to not take a wander through one of London's glorious parks. So if you do fancy a stroll let it be through Battersea park, for due course has arrived, and with it, as promised your complimentary ticket to the Decorative fair which opens at midday next Tuesday 30th September. http://www.decorativefair.com/email/16/emailaut14b.html
There will be the usual flurry of excitement as the queue winds its way around the tent as enthusiasts impatient to reach their favourite dealer to see what gems the summer has thrown up.
To tempt you to stand 26 we have on offer a reluctant stuffed pussy cat, an over sized white enamel teapot a la Mad Hatter, thirty bon vin signs, a sweet little painting of a pear, the finest carved Roman mirror from the eighteenth century, five more leech jars, a rusty red London bus, four superb gilt wood lamps with marble bases, a sexy curvy sofa, Jesus on various crosses, twenty cafe au lait bowls, a bag full of wooden bingo counters, thirty four silver gilt mirrors in various sizes, fifteen or so Faisselle pots (pots for cheese with holes in 'em) a spectacular Italian engraving of a battle scene in a gilt frame also from the eighteenth, a very thin table with perfect Portuguese nineteenth century patina and lovely legs to boot, a knackered papier-mache horse amongst many many other occasionally useful but mostly whimsical delightful & desperate things.
Desperate because they all need a good home! There's no place like home....
Augustus Caesar who played a crucial role in the founding of the Roman Empire died in August 14 ad (the month is named after him) is in the news again. A rare gold coin bearing his image sold at auction this week for a staggering £480,000. Let's hope the anonymous buyer turns up at the fair!
There is a world out side my head that doesn't revolve around Antiques & the high powered selling of.
This month I am most excited at the prospect of The Anselm Kiefer block buster exhibition opening at the Royal academy on the 27th. His work inspires and excites me. https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/anselm-kiefer
There is a vague connection to antiques as his 200 acre studio in an abandoned silk worm factory outside the small town of Barjac in the South of France (before he shifted to Paris) hosts a biannual brocante throughout the streets where said horse came from.
The route to Barjac in summer is lined with fields of Tournesols which inspired him to create various vast artworks depicting the evocative sun flower. Painting Sol Invictus,1996, which means 'unconquered sun' the title calls up the long but fading reign of the Roman emperors. By choosing to depict an extraordinarily tall sunflower at its moment of decline, scattering its now dry though still potentially fertile seeds, Kiefer captures the assumed superiority of tyrannical rule, now humbled, indeed conquered, by the passing of time.This would suggest that empires follow the same natural rhythms as plant life, gathering in height, only to face an inevitable decline and death. Life and death, creation and destruction are ultimately inseparable.
'Things ain't cookin' in my kitchen
Strange affliction wash over me
Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire
Couldn't conquer the blue sky'
Horace is very pleased with his shiny new Tifosi bicycle.
That's Italian! A word used to describe a group of supporters or fans, especially of sport.
Fausto Coppi (Italian!) won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d'Italia five times between 1940 and 1953. When asked if he ever took drugs he replied 'Yes! whenever necessary', and when was it necessary? 'Almost all the time!'
Fallen Angel by William Fotheringham wrote his biography (published 2009) a good read if you're interested in Cycling, Scandal, Catholicism & Sex!
I am a big fan of Joan Baez who was at the Royal Festival Hall last Saturday night. At seventy three years young one can forgive her for delivering most of her performance sitting down. Bar a cringe making rendition of Imagine (sorry John Lennon) her pure voice delivered a wonderful non stop mix of nostalgia, songs from sixties, contemporary tunes, Latin political and gospel songs.
September Girls September 09 2014
Another summer is over.
La rentree is in full swing.
My second swallow started secondary school today. Excited & nervous (that's me) she strode in confidently (under no circumstance was I to hold her hand!) wearing a crisp new uniform, complete with tie, very ready for the next big chapter in her life.
By the end of this week I won't have to do the school run ever again!
On my way back I picked up the first conkers of the burgeoning fall, then stopped at my favourite vegetable stand in Tooting to buy a tray of over ripe tomatoes to make I know not what with yet.
September is a lovely month. Virgos playground, my first swallow arrived on the 11th day 17 years ago.
Modest and shy. Meticulous and reliable. Practical and diligent. Intelligent and analytical.... Hmmm!
While I'm not a devotee of astrology, this year it has shed an interesting light on some of life's dilemmas.
While on the subject of son, I saw Boyhood this summer in a small art house cinema in Uzes. Improved my French reading the subtitles!
An American production superbly crafted in real time tells the life story of Mason from 5 to 18 years. Touching, poignant & very funny.
Thoroughly recommend every one of the 160 minutes of it. Still showing at some cinemas.
The memories of summer are still fresh.
It looks like the bridge to autumn will be one of those glorious Indian summers. I've always loved that phrase.
When not thinking about school uniform, autumn produce, the weather & the planets, we have been busy beavers recreating Josephine Ryan Antiques' website.
I hope you will appreciate our efforts & enjoy this first 'blog' which will be a regular monthly read including tunes & ditties, prose & nonsense, recipes & rants.
The shop will be reopening this week after an obscenely long break. Though it wasn't all lazing by the pool, drinking rose & long walks through the vineyards.
Several early morning forays into the world of Brocantes unveiled a few treasures, which will reach these shores imminently, ready for your perusal, praise, and, hopeful purchase.
My favourite find at Les Puces was a large quantity of unused guitar strings in tatty wrappings. They probably came from a closed down music shop as they still had the card dividers denoting the gauge. I quickly snaffled the whole lot. Horace's & the aforementioned Virgo's instruments will be kept in tune for a while.
We will be travelling and trawling through the dustier parts of France again later this month, on a serious shopping spree to find the best we can to create yet another interesting ensemble of objets trouve for the Autumn Decorative Fair. www.decorativefair.com to complement the work of London artist Harriet Porter www.harrietporterpaintings.com who I am very excited to be representing for the first time.
As always, hope to see you there. Invitation will follow in due course.
Finally thank you to James Fennel (photographer of Essentially Irish) jamesfennell.com for taking great photos, (as always) of my London home just published in the latest edition of Irish publication Image Interiors Here
In the meantime, maybe I'll make Panzanella!