The early bird catches the worm ! My brother used to use this expression when he had just finished being a gangly teenager and was rearing to go and make his fortune in the big wide world of business. I however was meandering along, searching artistic outlets for my creativity, never really thinking of money. My brother has now made his fortune, and I am still meandering along, fulfilling my artsy ideas, wondering what my goal is. I am so proud of him, but I don’t think he knows, and its a bit silly to go on like that. He in turn, has been very supportive of my painting, in his own way, and will ask me about artistic direction, when in doubt. So to the cage. I bought it this morning at a brocante and its for one of the many bedrooms here that I feel are not quite finished. In this very large bedroom, there is a painting on the mantlepiece, that I bought in China of all places. We had just finished the London to Peking stretch of the round the world rally ( we only ever did that half ). My dad at the age of 67, wanted to do this rally after he had heard our tales of adventure about the first rally Jono and I had done, from Peking to Paris in 1997. Well we did it with him, and at the end of the rally, we spend a day or two in Beijing, and I found a market of arts and crafts. There were piles and piles of paintings, which were so strange, because they were new but like old paintings, but I didn’t recognise any of them as being copies of famous paintings. One was rather interesting as it had a dark grey menacing background of factory like buildings, but in the foreground was a beautiful naked lady in the style of Manet’s ‘Olympia’. She was sitting in luxury, and instead of a servant handing her flowers, there was in the corner, a canary in a pretty cage. Exactly like the cage I saw this morning on a market stand. I just had to have it, for that room. It is a pretty bare room anyway, and I think it could look good near the painting. Anyway I bought it, despite thinking it rather expensive. The lady is one whose stand I always stop at and I think she is funny as she never recognises me, despite my frequent purchases and chats. No matter. She had all the chatter of a salesperson, telling me about this cage and how wonderful it was, era ‘Napoleon 3’, bla bla bla, and showed me the little flap to open at the bottom etc. I paid, and took the cage in hand, wandering down the street of stands in search of Jono. I knew his reaction. A rumpled up nose and ‘what are you going to do with that ? ‘. Followed with : ‘How much did they want for that then ? ‘. I haven’t told him and won’t ! He never ‘gets’ it. We wandered back and I was so delighted with this cage swinging from my hand. I had it by the top finial and I felt it becoming more and more bendy… oops the top came off. I could see that it had been glued back. That bloody woman. Back at La Salle, Jono set about treating the wood, and getting it properly glued back together. He is good like that !
Back to early this morning when we arrived at the market, it was as if we were in a world that we don’t belong to. I normally get up at daybreak, and head off, but today we were going to meet friends who are actual real antique dealers, and so we had to be there early. It was pitch black, and all we could see was figures shining torches onto the goods to pick out the best things before the general public come in. I had thought of this, and whipped out two torches for us. What fun, but I did feel odd, as if we were such total amateurs and might get found out. Picked up a tiny dolls wardrobe for a song, but that was about it. We find now, that as we have been here for a while and have already decorated the house, that there is very little we still need. Before we might have been interested to see a butter paddle for the first time, or an enamel coffee jug, but now we have seen most of the objects before.
What I love most are the characters you meet, and the odd happenings. Like the time that I was at a market in ‘Le Mans’, and bought two fine prints, after deliberating a little as they were expensive. The moment I was paying for them, a man came to the stand and told the vendor that he was going to buy them after all. The vendor told him that I was just buying them and he was too late, to which he turned and shouted: ‘Cochonne’ to me. ( pig ) - honestly !! I have been amused about it ever since. We did look up the artist, and it is a known Russian artist, but they are only prints after all. I love them, and have them where I see them every day.
And then there was the chap at a flea market the other week, who was standing in line in front of me, waiting for the loos. There were two loos. One door opened and I expected him to go in, but he said I could go ahead. I asked him if he was sure, as I could wait ( thinking he was being a gentleman ), to which he replied - well I need the other loo because there is paper in that one, and I need to.. how should I say it… go for the big job. Oh.
And please forgive me if you have read any of my silly little stories before, but I do forget what I have written down, and what is just in my mind, waiting to come out. Speaking of which, I mustn’t forget to write down the duck disaster story. That was this summer, but had gone to the back of the queue, because of the trauma of trying to keep the farm alive. Which, as we have had quite a bit of rain now, is a distant trauma. Quite distant.