Vague signs were there from early on, I suppose…


Dreaming repeatedly, as a child, about a room – always the same red walled room, my dreamer’s gaze moving slowly around it, taking in detail after detail of how it was arranged.

A bed time chapter of “The Borrowers” arousing a sleepy intrigue about the tiny dwelling of those resourceful little people, how they made their home cosy with things “borrowed” from above the floorboards.

I concocted rooms from cereal packets for my dolls and stuffed toys – furnished with toothpaste cap flower vases, chests of drawers from 6 matchboxes glued carefully together and the like.

Things took a more specific turn in my teens. A Victorian potty was spotted on a lunchtime stroll in the dusty window of a shop under refurbishment. A workman had hung it up with a “For Sale 10p” sign on it. My school friend, Barbara, looked on as I made my purchase, delighted, and emerged not only with the potty but also a Mable Lucie Attwell calendar that read “The Thirteenth Commandment: See that you are not found out!”

There follows a story heralded by clamberings in and out of skips, of the feather mattress I hauled home (“Fleas!” said my father, “You’re not bringing that thing in the house”), of the metal trunk bought without looking under the old sheet of newspaper that concealed the rusty hole, of first venturings to 5am candle lit Bermondsey markets – and a longing to forage endlessly in French brocante shops but with no way of bringing anything much home.

So it’s no real surprise that I am now living my passion – the only surprise is that it has taken me so long.

What follows are my musings, my dreams, something equating to a love deep in my gut, for travelling the backwaters of France, for not knowing what next delight I will uncover, for the glance of amber light through a dusty barn door, for furniture long since forgotten and left to age into oblivion at the back of a hangar, for the sons of sons of brocanteurs, with their stories, their rough corners that warm into a greeting and hospitality, for the dealing and head scratchings, for the squeezing one more piece into Little Moe, and bringing it all home to be dusted of ancient cobwebs and loved back to life.

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