As you may know, I buy nearly all of my stuff at auction. I like the anonymity of buying at auction and the ease of walking away if nothing takes my fancy. I don’t offend anyone if I turn my nose up at an item. I don’t offend anyone if I don’t want to pay the reserve price (well, only the auctioneer, but that doesn’t count:-)). I can view before I buy, scrutinise and prod and poke and open all the drawers. I can buy in bulk, or just spend a few pounds. The (auction) world is my oyster. There’s absoloutely nothing personal to get in the way of business. I buy stuff to refurbish and to sell. I seldom know who owned the items, and it’s best that way because it’s unemotional and uncomplicated.
It’s not quite the same when buying privately. I once bought a lovely Edwardian item privately; went to pick it up, only to find the item’s owner crying. The item had been in her family since new, passed from generation to generation. The current owner was moving to a smaller house and had no room for the family heirloom. I drove home with the (to be honest) quite jaded item in the back of my van, feeling quite awful that I was going to sand away all those years of family life and refurbish the thing to within an inch of its life, whilst preserving the lovely handles and embellishments. I didn’t tell the owner what I intended to do to the heirloom! I made a vow not to buy things privately, and I do stick to that vow most of the time.
But needs must. I’m short of dressers. There haven’t been many nice ones going through the auctions and I’ve been outbid on the few that have caught my eye. So, I broke my rule and bought one privately. It was too big to go in my van, so I hired a larger van, then thought I ought to buy another item and make the most of my day out and about collecting. As it was, I spotted an ad for a little beauty of a dresser. It’s Arts and Crafts, with barley twist legs and a lovely bow top with bits of carving to the wavy plinth. The owner wasn’t asking too much money for it, but the picture was very blurred. “Oh well” I thought, it’s worth a gamble. Even if it’s not as good as I think, it’s worth the risk.
So, I picked up the first dresser, which was exactly as I thought. A good, solid, large pine dresser; 90’s orange varnish, but I’m used to sanding by now! The people I bought it from were nice too and quite chatty. They were pleased to see the back of it and pleased that it was going to be refurbished. So far, so good.
I set off for the second dresser, which was only 6 miles away from the house I bought the first one from. About 4 miles in, I hit a council estate. A big council estate. A mile further on, it dawned on me that the area was a tad rough. The guys in hoodies with the Pit Bull Terriers were out in force, as I rattled along in the hire van. I dare not look at my hubby; the sarcastic remarks about my astute purchasing credentials would have been too much to bear. We pulled up outside the address. It looked a bit dodgy. “Put the bloody sat nav under the seat” said I, as I waited for the latest hoodie with Pit Bull to walk past, so as not to get my leg chewed off when getting out of the van.
A very weird, but friendly looking man waved from the house. “Come on in, it’s too cold to be stood outside”, he said. Funnily enough, my hubby was nowhere to be seen. I turned around, only to see my husband pretending he had to go back to the van for ‘something’ (his nerve I think:-)) I went inside the house to see the man’s partner scowling at me. “It’s over there” she said to me and turned her back, whilst carrying on a conversation on the mobile phone. She was a big, miserable, bad tempered looking woman, dressed in lurid pink, with bright ginger hair and a frown. “It’s nice” said I (let’s face it, even if it had been pig ugly, I’d have said it was nice! But it was nice, very nice). The woman grunted and scowled some more.
Hubby was stood on the path, quite near to the van. He wasn’t coming anywhere near. The weird man took the dresser top out. I went to move the pots that were stacked on the dresser base. “You can have them if you want em” said the woman. “The pots?” said I. “Yeh” said the woman. “They’re lovely; that’s very, very kind” said I. The woman grunted and very almost smiled (or perhaps it was just wind). She helped me lift the dresser base to the van. One of the cupboard doors swung open; she swiftly booted it shut and swore loudly. I said nothing. Hubby stood watching, looking a bit nervous, unaware of what had been said inside:-) The base was almost thrown in the van.
I’ve been looking for some pretty pots with roses on them for ages. They fetch too much money at auction because they’re so fashionable. If someone had asked what sort of pots I wanted, my description would have been the same as the ones I’d just been given.
Most of the pots went in a small cardboard box, but four plates had to go inside the dresser drawers. As we
got the hell out of the estate pronto drove away, the drawers flew out of the dresser and there was a sickening crash of pots as the drawers hit the van deck. When I got home, not one of those fine china plates was damaged! My hubby looked at the china set. “They’re worth quite a lot of money”, said I. “Yes”, said hubby, “they look really good”. Hubby said he didn’t know I’d bought some pots as well. I explained that they were given to me. We were both a little quiet and thoughtful.
I must remind myself often, not to judge a book by its cover. I must also remind myself to be grateful for what I have. A very humble home, but in a peaceful setting. I see Jasper munching on his haynet when I look out of my back window. Not a Pit Bull or hoodie in sight!
No doubt you will see the pots in the coming weeks. There’s a blue set, as well as the rose set. They’re ideal for dressing up the dressers for the photographs: