Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 18 June 2015
Why did the woman have two black eyes?
This is the second collectable, antique tray I have picked up in Bath's best charity shop (Women's Refuge) in a year. You may remember the other - an ormolu-edged, Chinoiserie, Georgian thing which John Gray did not hesitate to tell me he hated.
This one seems to date from around the 1920s, and I still have not decided if it is Japanese or Chinese - this is shameful, I know, and I am hoping one of you experts can settle the matter for me.
It's a bit warped and some of the joints are coming apart, but I am going to take it to a woodworker friend of mine and borrow his wonderful, little panel-pin nail gun which fires in tacks so quickly, forecefully and deeply that it even recesses the ends to almost invisibility.
The Bath Women's Refuge shop is a wonderful place, staffed by wonderful women, and it is very rare that anything in it costs more than £4. This tray was £3.50. I have bought brand new, hand-made, Jermyn Street shirts there for £2 each before now. The staff know the worth of everything they sell, but they really want people to go for bargains - unlike their corporate charity shop neighbours, whose prices rise and rise until you may as well buy the stuff new in the first place. Those shops have directors salaries to pay, and they want to be paid the same as a director from Marks and Spencer.
As the name suggests, all proceeds go toward the upkeep of a secretly located refuge for abused women and their children, which gives respite or escape from troubled or just plain nasty partners or husbands. There is, of course, much more of this type of abuse going on behind closed doors in genteel towns like Bath than you might imagine, but it rarely gets into the statistics, going largely unreported.
I walked into the W.R. shop a couple of years ago, and the women who were in there were standing around looking slightly gob-smacked, so I asked why.
A man had just left - or rather he had been asked to leave - because of a comment he made when told where the profits of the shop went to.
"Mind you," he said, "Some of them ask for it, don't they?"