Tag Archives: Antiques Roadshow

Why this antique won’t be doing the road show

I like antiques and if money were no object I wouldn’t think twice about filling my house with them. There’s nothing more pleasing to the eye than the intricate design of a Chippendale cabinet or the delicate brushwork on a Meissen porcelain figurine. The value is in the pleasure of owning something that’s unique and which has survived two World Wars, countless house moves and the destructive hands of the under fives!

I’m not the only who thinks this. Several of my friends are the proud owners of antique pieces which – though not terribly valuable – have made their way down the family into their possession. Even when times have been hard they’ve never been tempted to sell their inheritance nor have they toyed with the idea of getting it valued on The Antiques Road Show.

“What’s the point?” they say whenever the issue is raised “If it’s worth something our contents insurance will go up. Apart from that burglars would probably try to break in and nick it.”

There may well be a lot of truth in that but it’s not enough to stop thousands of people from religiously hitting the Antiques Road Show trail when the bandwagon comes rolling into town. You can see them at the start of every programme cluttering  the lawns of someone’s stately home, jealously guarding their precious artefacts with the ferocity of a lioness defending her cubs. Good luck to them! It’s the utterly disingenuous expressions of surprise that I can’t handle. Let’s put it this way if an expert told me that the Royal Worcester vase I bought for a fiver in a car boot sale in Kilburn was actually worth more than twenty grand, I don’t think you’d hear me politely exclaiming:

“Gosh! Whizzo! Ha ha! That’s a jolly fine bit of news. What a spiffingly marvellous stroke of good luck!”

You’re more likely to see a dazed look of stupidity on my face followed by nervous laughter and a drizzle of expletives which would roughly translate as, “Are you serious?” or “Sure you haven’t made a mistake and you’re not taking the mickey?”

That’s how most normal people would react but then nothing’s really normal about the Antiques Road Show! People claim they’re only there to satisfy a curiosity about the history and value of an object, but I don’t believe that for one minute. Nine and a half of times out of ten they’re on the programme to satisfy their greed. It’s written large in their eyes especially when the expert’s valuation falls wildly short of what they expected. No matter how hard they struggle to put a brave face on it there’s no hiding the disappointment of discovering that the frame on a 19th century fine art landscape is actually worth more than the picture inside it! I half expect them to turn bottle green with rage and blow up to the size of the Incredible Hulk once the reality of what they’ve heard starts to sink in. At least with ITV’s Dickinson’s Real Deal you know the punters are avariciously pushing to get the one over on the expert, even if the price they’re looking for is totally unrealistic!

I’m not saying the Antiques Road Show should be permanently dropped from the schedules I just wish that people were a little more honest about their intentions.

Why is it so hard to admit that the only reason they’re getting their stuff valued is so that they can flog it on Ebay? And I wish they wouldn’t feign polite surprise when they find out that an object is actually worth something. What’s wrong with jumping up and down excitedly, or just fainting in a heap on the ground? At least that’s a bit more realistic.

I know there are plenty of people out there who will strongly disagree with my views because The Antiques Road Show is probably the highlight of their weekend TV viewing. But before you start assaulting me with brickbats I’d like you to consider the following. If the contents insurance on your house was £40,000 a year would you really want to hold onto an antique that’s so valuable it could potentially quadruple the monthly payments on your policy? Or might it be better to have never known the value in the first place? Think about it!

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The Power of a Magnetic Addiction

I’m not ashamed to admit this but I have an addiction! It isn’t dangerous, it doesn’t threaten to plunge me into destitution, nor does it induce the kind of yobbish behaviour that might justify an ASBO. In fact I revel in the ambiguity my habit provokes among my friends. On the one hand they condemn it but because it’s so ridiculously cheap, they’re only too happy to indulge me when I demand a fix. My addiction doesn’t have a name, although I’m reliably informed by Wikipedia that if I lived in Russia I would be called a memomagnetic. It’s a rather grand title to confer on a fridge magnet collector, but who am I to complain?

So when did my addiction start? About eight years ago I was browsing in a London cookery shop when I saw a small pile of fridge magnets stashed amongst rows of pots, pans and food processors. It was a motley collection consisting of plastic quiches the size of a fifty pence piece, portly looking chefs with white puffy hats and handlebar moustaches, and mushroom shaped recipe books. As I had only recently decorated my kitchen and needed something colourful to jazz up the white blandness of the fridge and freezer doors, I opted for a mushroom and a chef. Since then I’ve never looked back and my fridge magnet collection has grown considerably, although it’s nothing compared to Louise J Greenfarb’s of Henderson, Nevada, who in 2002 reportedly had over 30,000 magnets to her name.

That’s a bit excessive even by my standards although I do take pride in owning a collection where some of my most cherished pieces come with their own story. There’s the pot-bellied pink teddy bear with the soulful eyes, a miniature red rose wired around its neck and magnets on all four paws. It was an unwanted gift from a friend who’d got it from the fiancé who then dumped her. She’d suspected that things weren’t right because moments before giving her the bear he’d said there was something he needed to get off his chest. Since I also collect teddies I couldn’t deny this one a home, and he now takes pride of place on the fridge door with an Irish leprechaun, a Belgian beer mug, and a basket of dim sum dumplings for company.

Not all of my magnets are rejects. Some are souvenirs from mine or other peoples’ travels, others were picked up in small job lots at boot fairs, while a friend almost got arrested for getting five of them on my behalf. He’d scored them from a  memomagneticist outside a dodgy bar in South London, during which a plain clothes drugs officer interrupted the transaction. He thought he’d find some Colombian marching powder but he uncovered an egg shaped fridge magnet from Norway, an Austrian boy doll in lederhosen who yodels like a cockerel when the button on his back is pressed, a cocktail glass with a gold stirrer and a poker hand in the rim, a massive pair of scarlet red lips that squeak “I love you, I love you” every time the fridge vibrates, and a Perspex beer bottle with a bottle opener at one end and a plastic dolphin swimming around inside. The officer didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

Collecting fridge magnets might not be to everyone’s liking, but for hardcore devotees like me it’s a welcome diversion from some of life’s more disturbing realities. Who wouldn’t laugh at the sight of Henry VIII driving a double decker bus with his six wives on board? Or salivate over a bowl of Chinese noodles sprinkled with herbs? It’s only a matter of time before other people will come around to my way of thinking and join the fun, just as it won’t be too long before a fridge magnet collection appears on the Antiques Road Show for a valuation, (assuming that hasn’t happened already!).

As for me I’m now moving my collection away from objects towards people. I’ve recently acquired a magnetic cut out figure of Lenin – complete with a wardrobe of biker jeans, an Elvis Presley jump suit and studded leathers. I may not know that much about one of the founding father’s of Communism, but he looks pretty cool when he’s dressed as the King of Rock n Roll! Comrades, take note!

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