Bibelot, bibelot…

Thursday June 2, 2005

I got my marching orders about mid-morning, just after I’d finished my morning writing session.

“Tell ya wot,” Graham said, with a smile on his face that indicated he was only half-kidding. “Why don’t you go do your errands in Spilsby now, and then go for a little drive while I’m setting up the wireless network?

“But it’s raining!”

“It won’t be raining inside the car. Promise.”

“Ah. Well. If you put it like that.”

“I do. I do.”

“Right you are, then. See you in an hour or so.”

And off I floated through the light rain on my way to Spilsby. Can’t say I blame him for wanting me out of the way while he fiddled with network and sharing settings on two computers and a new router box. I wouldn’t want anyone hovering around me while I was doing that kind of thing, either. There’s no such thing as a helpful suggestion when you’re fiddling with the unknown.

I got my errands done pretty quick, taking advantage of a break in the rain. There was a long, long queue in the Post Office occasioned by two simultaneous requests, one at each open position, requiring the clerks to consult, rummage through files and then to retire up the stairs to fetch the forms to complete operations outside normal practice. It happens. I don’t mind too much, really, though I do rather wish these places had seats for those times when you have to wait a long time. Standing in queues is not easy for us old fogeys with worn-out joints.

Anyway, walking back to the car, I happened to notice that the local dog rescue shop was holding a mini antiques sale. Couldn’t resist, of course, and in I hopped to spend a happy half hour edging gingerly between benches that left only a minimum space for the customer. I don’t find minimum spaces too easy, either.

Most of what they had was closer to junk than antique but I did spot a cluster of little porcelain figurines and made a beeline for them, to find a good mix of pieces, antique and modern, of the crinoline lady kind of bibelot. There was one genuine bit of Dresden, and another from Wedgewood, both outside my budget, and a couple of good quality un-named pieces I simply couldn’t resist. The other pieces were common or garden tat, at least in my uninformed opinion they were, and I passed them over. So I took my finds to the nice lady at the desk for a small haggling session, concluded by happy agreement and, while she was wrapping them, an interesting chat about rescue dogs. That’s the price you pay for going in the dog rescue shop, and I don’t mind at all. Finding good homes for old, neglected and abandoned dogs is what they’re there for, after all. They’re good about it, though, and ease the pressure when they discover that I’m a cat man.

As a last shot, the lady pressed a card in my hand with the number to call. “I’m sure they’ll have a quiet little old dog that’d get on with your cat just fine,” she said.

Not caring to provide Dolly the Mega-Cat with a dietary supplement on legs, I smiled nicely, said my thank you, and promised to think about it. There’s no point trying to explain that our cat is a monstrous great thing and that, while she’s kindness and gentle with us, she would like nothing better than to snack on a Yorkshire terrier less than one third her size.

The rain was just starting up again when I escaped so I scurried fast as I could manage over to the car, lodged my new acquisitions safely on the back seat, and drove off the back way, across the fens, seeking a quiet spot where I could sit and watch the rain while enjoying the two small sausage rolls I’d secured for a late morning snack. That was a pleasant way to while away the rest of my excursion time. I’d brought my camera along but the light wasn’t favourable, and I don’t like exposing all those expensive electronics to the rain, anyway. There will be other days.

When I got home, Graham was just tidying up from what had been a reasonably smooth install and configuration. We are now set up with a wireless home network, one element of which is the Internet.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“Fine. Only had to make one short call to the support desk but other than that, no problem.”

“Oh, well done.”

“What have you got there?” he asked, with some suspicion. I must have been acting suspiciously.

“You’re not going to like it.”

“Try me.”

“Well,” I said, removing my two little purchases from the carrier bag. “You know I’ve been checking out the eBay market for porcelain bibelots?”

“Yes.” The suspicion did not diminish. Quite to the contrary, in fact.

“Well, they were having a sale, so I thought I’d try my hand.” I finished unwrapping them and stood them on the counter for inspection. “So there you are.”

“Oh. My. God. They’re hideous. How much did you pay for them?”

When I told him, and how much I’d seen similar pieces fetch at auction, he relented. Only a little, but there was a distinct bit of relenting.

“Well, alright. They’re still hideous, but I suppose you have to experiment.”

“Oh, I do. I do.”

“Didn’t I say that earlier?”

“You sure did. Just goes to prove I was listening and learning.”

The conversation degraded at that point.

I don’t care what anyone says. I’m coming to really like bibelots of this kind. Crinoline ladies and such. And porcelain trinket boxes. They’re small, very pretty, and they remind me of quiet, respectable parlours when I was a lad. One of today’s finds, a young 17th century lady dressed for an outing in the countryside, really appeals to me. She’s a little short of eight inches in height, and of the right weight. She reminds me of the provincial ladies from Jane Austen. The nice ones, that is, not the nasty kind. She may not be from a great, prestigious pottery, but she’s full of charm and gentility.

Hey ho. I must be getting old. I’ll keep her on my shelf for a few days and then put her up for sale when I’ve learned a little more about the genre. I sent off for a second hand reference book this evening, and I’ll keep looking at the eBay pages where you find such things. I suspect she’ll find an appreciative home.

And, apart from spending far too much of the evening viewing all those journals and blogs that’ve been too slow to visit until now, that was my day. At the very last, when I was tired of staring at the computer screen, I settled down to watch a late-night showing of Shirley Valentine. Great movie, that, and a splendid way to end the day.

So, to bed, to dream of sun-filled Greek islands and of long-ago parlours which the sun visited only slantingly, through shady blinds.


Stickford, Jun,'05
Bibelot, bibelot…



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