21. Jan, 2017

Cuckoo Crazy Creative

Arghhhhh! Can't cope!

Right now I could be classed as creatively overwhelmed. Writing my novel and this blog. Starting back at sculpture class. Doing my winter surface pattern design course which involves beginner, intermediate and advanced briefs plus a fun one which I've yet to look at. Not to mention our writing group meetings and open mics, which involves article writing and reading out. It'll all end in tears, as Husband is prone to saying. 

Now - for your delight and delectation, here follows my latest offering, one of a series of articles I will one day include in an anthology called Musings of a Butterfly Brain. An anthology that I could have e-published by now (according to His Greatness) except that every time I reread something, I knew I could improve on it. Couldn't send it out 'like that'.

Anyhoo - on that note, here it is:


I am an Antique Curio  

I’m of a mature vintage and I’m curious. I began collecting antique curiosities when I was late teens or thereabouts, when I managed to save enough dosh to indulge myself.

It all began when mother passed onto me some family heirlooms, and my fascination for them burgeoned into buying curios from village hall sales. Furniture didn’t do it. Nor ceramics. Nor silver or glass. Not for me Lalique, Spode or Hepplewhite, barley twist or pierced ware (amazing what one learns from antique shows). If you saw my odd collection, you’d understand what I’m prattling on about, although I do have normal items as well, such as vintage greetings cards and antique clothing.

One of my oddest items is a Bourneville cocoa tin circa 1920/30s, complete with cocoa. I haven’t tried drinking it. I have a wartime gas mask. I haven’t tried wearing it. A 1940s wartime field dressing in its original cellophane wrapping, unopened. An 1890s Hoop-la game I rescued from Oxfam before they tipped it (it’s seen better days no kidding). I have a family heirloom 1840s silver baby’s rattle with bells. A 1920s lipstick, an 1890s breast-pump in its original box…I haven't tried using it. I could go on. And on. Perhaps not.

Husband is gallantly supportive. When we traipse antiquey shops, stalls etcetera, he's magnetised straight for model railway locos, clocks and brass objects and I peer into dusty shelves stuffed with tatty looking oddments. I'm drawn to boxes with faded lettering complete with original contents. I always rattle them to see if they're empty. Never mind if it’s for veterinary medicinal purposes or half-used soap.

'It's a Jo thing.' Husband states. If he can have four mantle clocks and various other ding-dongers in the house, I can have weird and wonderfuls. I'm irrevocably dragged towards tat. Faded and cracked boxes. Well worn baby slippers circa 1800s. Most of these items are worth absolutely zilch, I daresay, but you never know. I've looked up some peculiarities on ebay and spotted the odd fiver or occasional twenty quid – they’ll never make me a fortune. Sorry, offspring.

Talking of whom - offspring (sophisticated daughter, that is)... I’ve told her that when I pop my clogs she’s to keep family heirlooms, but she’s welcome to sell the rest and pocket those fivers.

‘That’s a relief,’ she mutters.

Talking of antique programmes, which I wasn’t, when weird and wonderfuls turn up, my eyes sparkle and my ears prick up. The prize for the weirdest probably goes to a miniature doll's furniture set made of chicken bones. Yes – you heard. Now even I thought that odd. A small value came out of that one.

Another, sweeter object was a bible brought in by a fifty-one year old gentleman. It had been given to him as an eleven-year old starting boarding school to while away spare moments. He had nonchalantly chucked it in the bottom of a cupboard. As one would. Fast forward forty years and the book has been rediscovered – complete with hidden compartment for the Mars Bar, Turkish Delight and Bounty secreted within. Twerp! A value of about tuppence was given.

One Roadshow object was a wooden box containing the original six-inch long cigar half smoked by Churchill at a historic wartime meeting between himself and other leaders at Casablanca. It was taken from the meeting by allies, eventually came into the possession of a wartime veteran who then gave the cigar to his twelve-year-old grandson. Today the twelve year old is the student who brought the cigar in to be valued. The Antique Road Show valued it at £800.

Of the numerous curiosity shoppies we've frequented, our favourite local is the haunted Bourne Mill in Farnham. Architecturally it’s brilliant. Crooks and nannies are secreted within its crooks and nannies and stairs and rooms proliferate. Gorgeous. I’ve bought various bits and bobs, and even attempt bargaining, but haven’t quite reached the professionalism of Paul Martin of Flog It!et al.

I love those experts, and the ones who frequent The Antique Road Trip, who saunter round the country in classic cars that break down, buying up antiques and flogging them – or trying to - in auctions, all for charity.

Let me just get one thing straight. Antiques is something we oldies do, apparently. Nooo. I’ve loved ‘em ever since I was able to utter; ‘I’ll give you a fiver for it.’

Bung that in your 18th century pipe and smoke it!