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.

On an bone-bitingly cold morning at a buying fair in the South of France recently, huddled over a
pop-up barbecue drinking Rioja with slices of Jamon and Quesa for breakfast courtesy of the lovely and generous Catalan, Josep, I met an American of Italian decent, a dealer from Atlanta Georgia (whose sister's initials are also JR),demented in his efforts to find out who had bought that  a m a z i n g  Credenza on the other side of the car park.
Put me in mind of a past favourite show and two great films. Click,click,click.

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.

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 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. 
I digress. 
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. 


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   pinned 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
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 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……...