Archive | August, 2012


29 Aug

I absolutely adored my maternal grandmother.  A wonderful, warm, loving and fascinating lady, from Toxteth in Liverpool, born in 1888 with an accent thicker than than a hot bowl of best Scouse.  Dorothy, my grandmother or O.M., as I called her for ‘other mother’ was also extremely comical, but never knowingly so.  Life’s bizarre moments and odd encounters seemed to find Dorothy very easily and she always managed to recount those moments and encounters back to us in a deeply hilarious way.

The year must have been 1972, when I first became aware that my mother’s chosen profession and my future career path might not be a universally loved and respected path.  

My mother was an Antique dealer, specialising in vintage jewellery, this was in the years before Ebay and even car boot sales existed.  So her hunting ground consisted of jumble sales, auctions, church fetes and charity shops, she had a supreme eye for a bargain, and could spot a discarded 18 carat gold wedding ring amongst the ballerina twirling jewellery boxes stacked with brass curtain hooks and Christmas cracker prizes.  Mum would then, polish her purchases, price them with a white ticket, place in a velvet box and take them to a fancy Antique Fair in London, usually The Cafe Royal on Regent Street or The Horticultural Hall and achieve a mighty profit. 

So on a Winter’s afternoon in 1972, outside a United Reformed church hall in Southampton, I learnt that to many people “dealer” was a bad word.

The jumble sale was advertised for 11.00 a.m., but mum, O.M. and me rolled up at 10.00 a.m.  “We have to be first the queue mum said”, if not the other dealers will beat us to it.  Mum had already started to teach me the ropes of ‘dealerdom’.  I was her tiny protege, and the best thing about having a small accomplice was I could dodge under the taller grabbing hands and beat them to the punch.   I adored it all, saw it all as a competitive treasure hunt and nobody was going to beat us to the prize.   

O.M. on the other hand, had absolutely no interest in anything other than a nice cup of tea and a slice of victoria sponge, she was only going to the jumble sale to be with the two of us, of course she knew her daughter dealt in antiques and jewellery but she was proud of her daughter and that she had started her own business, and was doing something that she loved.

So, stood in the cold of a Southampton Winter, are three female generations of the one family all first in the queue.  Slowly, as the time moved on, other people joined the line outside the church, predominantly female, arriving in ones and twos, all buttoned up against the cold eyeing us with envy and dislike.  I was too young to notice the looks and stares, but it soon became apparent when the two lumpy ladies behind started pointing at us and enunciating in an extremely loud accusing tone “them’s dealers” and they seemed to be taking particular umbrage with O.M. as she was in their age group.  

The pointing, whispering and staring continued all the way to the end of the queue.  Mum didn’t seem too  bothered, she just told us to “ignore them, they are just annoyed that we are at the front of the queue”.  O.M on the other hand looked mortified….”did you hear what they said, they called us dealers?”  “oh so what, it will soon be open and we will never see them again” mum replied.

The doors eventually opened, a few minutes late, so O’M. had to endure an extra few minutes of derision.   Mum and I ran to the white elephant stall, which was our usual routine, grabbing anything that looked antique or valuable.  

 O’M. went immediately to the refreshments, sat down had a cup of tea, picked at a slice of cake and reflected on the mornings events.  She was still horrified at being called a ‘dealer’ and the jumble queue had taken it’s toll on her.

The sense of horror at the intended slight never left O.M., it was a story I was to hear her recount time and time again, she could never understand how anybody could just look at her and think that she was a ‘dealer’.

Yes, a DEALER, so horrifying was the word and all it’s connotations that O.M. could not bear to be labelled as such.  Now I know that the word is also commonly used to describe somebody that supplies illegal drugs.  But this wasn’t the problem, that thought wouldn’t have even occurred to O.M.  It was the profession of being a dealer in second-hand goods that had left her so mortified.  It was something she (and obviously the other ladies in the queue at the jumble sale) considered shady, irreputable and something to be thoroughly ashamed of.

I have mused on this event many times over the years and since  becoming a fully fledged and professional DEALER,.  I have experienced this attitude myself on occasion….”are you a dealer?” said with contempt or “I don’t really want to sell to dealers” muttered through gritted teeth.

So what is it in the British culture that has given the ‘dealer’ such a bad reputation?

We are supposedly a nation of shopkeepers, we built an empire on bartering, buying, selling, mark it up, make a mint.  Maybe it is the Steptoe & Son image that has tarnished the profession of the dealer, sitting in a heap other people’s junk and debris counting the profits.  

Perhaps it was the black market in World War II that spawned the disdain.  The mustachioed spiv, selling essentials to a war weary nation and profiteering on the back of a population on it’s knees.

Now, whenever I see that contempt rearing it’s sneering mouth in my direction, I hear O.M. whisper in my ear down through the decades in her fabulous accent, “them’s dealers”.  It always makes me smile and my equilibrium is restored..

 Life’s lessons when they come, are often in the most mundane of places on the most ordinary of days.  Mine came in a jumble sale queue on a cold Winter’s day in Southampton at the age of six and a half years old.



Karmic Chameleon

25 Aug

I have been thinking a lot lately about karma.  Is it just my imagination, or has the significance placed on the karmic wheel increased dramatically in recent years?

Of course Karma existed when I was a nipper, but it is not something you heard people dropping into conversation casually, at every opportunity, nobody would qualify the misfortune of a deserved individual by saying “karma’s a bitch”.

So, this got me thinking, is this the result of people opening their minds to new religious doctrines and beliefs, or is it a result of an erosion of faith in traditional religious beliefs which ultimately means that people who once waited for God to exact vengeance now await for the natural balance of a bad action leading to a bad circumstance for the wrongdoer?

Or, is this just another ‘fashion belief’ that will fade into the background of people’s consciousness as quickly as it arose?

Also, if karma really does exist, then how does one wishing for bad karma on others colour our own karma, surely if we are seething with resentment and hoping for vengeance then we are sending the bad karma in our own direction, so is this the karmic cycle?  Then if we are wishing for bad karma for another person  then surely this will actually stop any bad karma finding that person because our wish is vengeful.


So this lead me to muse on the concept of ancient karma and wonder, have I ever been part of it’s cycle?

I remember as a child awaking really early in the morning to slip a trick soap into the bathroom for my sister to use.  I knew she would be tired so early after her late night and would just wash her face, and apply a little make-up with her eyes closed.  Sure enough, she walked down the hill, stood at the bus stop and boarded the early morning commuter bus to work her face streaked in soot.  My poor sister,  she must have looked like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.  The one thing I can never forget, is her extremely agitated and beyond fuming face when she arrived home that evening, and oh she knew it was down to her little sister.

So does the execution have a time span, how long before that wheel spins round and it’s your turn to face the karmic fallout?

Approximately thirty years later, and a couple of years after my sister was no longer on this earthly plane, my lovely partner bought me a chapstick, as I had suffered a heavy cold and my lips were extremely chapped.  I failed to notice it was a coloured chapstick and was a bright ‘Marilyn’ red.  So being an individual prone to extremes, I decided that I would smear again, with the chapstick, again and again and hell why not just apply it all the way up to my nose.  No I didn’t look in the mirror, well why would I, it’s only chapstick right?

I paced around in my store serving customers, talking to them in depth about the merits of certain items we had for sale. meanwhile, my partner was both mortified and convulsing with amusement in equal measure and far too scared to tell me the truth and the customers were too gobsmacked to say anything, I spent a good hour looking like ‘Baby Jane Hudson’.

Another example of delayed, karma could be as a child, whenever we used to travel from Hampshire to the North West of England, my father made a point of always stopping  in the West Midlands for a ‘bite to eat’ because the West Midlands accent always made me double over with laughter and I could barely keep from guffawing  as the ‘Brummie’ waitress asked for our order.

So let’s flash forward again, this time thirty-five  years, I now possess a chameleon accent which derives from all the different ares I have lived throughout my life, let’s call it a karmic chameleon accent, because it is heavily tinged with a West Midlands burr, yes extremely heavily tinged. Actually most people I encounter actually think I am a Brummie.    Okay I am a believer damn bloody that Karmic Chameleon.

So, I wonder was this my karma for that childish prank, had the karmic wheel finally span my way?

So does karma operate in a Russian Roulette styli, sometimes you get the bullet and sometimes it’s just the blank?  If it exists or if it’s just the work of coincidence and synchronicity, I find Karma a wonderfully alluring concept.  It is most certainly an ethos for our age, deep breaths, still your ire…..the wheel is turning, karma will be your bitch in the end.


23 Aug

People who still buy vinyl records are a small but hardy breed of folks.  The male variety, far outweigh the female, but there is the odd lady LP lover lurking about.

It is a profession that has kept me in sunglasses and Jamesons for nearly twenty years and a job I still adore, but as with every job they come with a procession of aresholes, or as I like to call them in my particular career; ‘RECORD WANKERS’!

So in the tradition of Top of the Pop’s, I shall light my big fat cigar, don my flares and summon the spirit of  Tommy Vance, for here pop pickers is my top ten Tit Parade of ‘RECORD WANKERS’:

In at number TEN we have the ADDLED WANKER, the one that has heard a snippet or snatch of a song on the radio and thinks that if they hum a few bars or mumble a few misheard lyrics you will know the song/artist and be able to locate the 7” instantly.  “It’s by that fella with the beard, you know the one who went gay and then got a limp”…..”You broke my heart (hum, cough, hum) and I fell to pieces (hum, hum, whistle). ADDLED WANKER is a particularly ‘bum clenching’ person to deal with, the more you look puzzled, the more agitated they become, sometimes causing them to storm off in a huff as you obviously don’t possess the “name that tune” knowledge they think you ought to.

Holding Steady at number NINE  is LOST CAUSE WANKER, they have been looking for that one rare pressing, by that obscure artist that is now almost impossible to find.  The problem with LOST CAUSE WANKER, is, apart from boring crushingly boring, if you ever do find that item for them, it ruins their life.  It is not really ever been about the item, more about the search, once that record they have been banging on about for ten years is in front of them, they almost instantly lose the will to live.  They are the sado-masochists of the vinyl world.

Sliding down to number EIGHT, it’s MORE THAN YOU WANKER, yes they come into your store or record fair and taking a deep breath of proud air through their stale yellowed teeth go on to inform you “I’ve got more records than you”.  It doesn’t matter how many records you have, they have got more and more and more.  I tried to combat MORE THAN YOU WANKER by wearing a t-shirt that said “my record collection can beat up your record collection”, it just made them more rabid.

After a unequalled time in the charts climbing back up to number SEVEN it’s DEALER WANKERS, yes the fellow champions of your profession, they buy sell and trade with you.  Their tales could give J.K. Rowling a run for her money.  They have always just been to buy ‘the’ most fantastic record collection in the country, filled with Beatles acetates and Marc Bolan signatures, and yes that’s right they got it all, yes all 1000 records for £50.  But really you know it is just the seedy old house packed with Jim Reeves, Barron Knights and Lulu that you went to the week before, you can smell the same dog on their clothes that was last Wednesday trying to mate with you.

Plummeting down to number SIX it’s THIEF WANKER, yes a chartbuster since the beginning of the ‘tit parade’.  Oh sorry I don’t know how that highly rare Elvis EP found it’s way inside that cheap OMD LP, and I certainly haven’t a clue how the Quadrophenia I haven’t paid for is in my bag”.  A wanker that will never be out of the charts.

We are halfway to paradise at number FIVE it’s MALAPROP WANKER, yes they are closely related to ADDLED WANKER, they are the Kylie to their Danni.  Nightmare scenario is ADDLED WANKER and MALAPROP WANKER appearing at the same time.  Some of my favourite Malaprops have been ‘Sealion Dion and ‘Maltloaf’.  The problem with MALAPROP WANKER  is it’s hard to keep a straight face and do you correct them?  They can sometimes turn slightly vindictive if you point out it’s  Julio Iglesias and not ‘Jewleo Englisharse’.

It’s a belter at number FOUR, VINYL SNIFFING WANKER Yep, they sniff the vinyl.  For anybody of a certain age, remember the joy we got when we had our new P.E. bag, the bright orange one with a swimmer or tennis player on the front, they absolutely reeked and we spent the week sniffing it?   Well Vinyl sniffer has never got over those P.E. bags and for him the only way to regain that high is to sniff the Bee Gees.  Strangely enough, VINYL SNIFFING WANKER is often umkempt smells a little, (but of wee wee not vinyl).

New entry at number THREE, ‘NICHE WANKER’.  They can only buy a certain style of music, which means they are an expert on that particular genre.  The worst NICHE WANKERS are the northern soul collectors, they bore on for hours and hours about, what in their opinion is the greatest Northern Soul record ever made and which is the best label.   NICHE WANKERS can make you want to find the sharpest 7” from Bros and hack away at your wrists until they leave.

Just missing out on the top spot at number TWO  it is STALKER WANKER, yes they only have eyes for that one artist, they are usually sighted in full regalia, t-shirt, cap, badges etc all displaying the object of their desire.  STALKER WANKER is the one wanker that has equal amount of male and female wankers in it’s club.  It could be Cliff Richard, Madonna or Daniel O’ Donnell, it doesn’t matter STALKER WANKER  is their biggest fan and knows everything about their ‘target’ in minute detail and is on a mission, if they can’t buy something from you, they will convert you, and implore you to  listen to every factoid and all every experience of fandom they have gone through until their voice is hoarse enough to suck a Fisherman’s Friend.  But you do listen, because there is something extremely unnerving about Stalker wanker.

So here we are the top of the shop the smeg on the top it’s number ONE, DISCOUNT WANKER.  You guessed it they will stop at nothing to get a discount, they will tell you a mint record is scratched, argue it’s not a first pressing, tell you it’s too expensive, say they already own ten copies.  They are relentless, rude and obnoxious and when they get the discount, are prone to say they still don’t want to buy the item.  Yes number one is DISCOUNT WANKER

So there you have it pop pickers, the RECORD WANKER TOP TEN.  Trust me it doesn’t matter if they are 33, 45, or 78, their wankerdom is assured.

Who Am I………..

22 Aug

Well I have for a long time now contemplated whether or not I wanted to start a blog, in all honestly who would really want to read my rambling rants.   But then WordPress is free and I thought why not, I can fit it in when The One Show and Cuntryfile are on!

So I start to register and then I have to write a little bit of a biography, detailing who I am.  Then the realisation dawns, I haven’t actually got a clue who I am or where I am from.  

I was born in leafy Surrey to a father from Manchester with Irish Catholic routes, and a mother from Liverpool with Church of Scotland routes and I have now relocated to the West Midlands for the last couple of decades, during which I spent a good four of those years travelling mainly in the United States.   I then start to acknowledge that I have never really felt I belonged to any one place, creed or culture.  

I was the child of older parents who were the children of older parents, I have long since been the only member of my family left alive in this country and as such have sometimes felt a great detachment to any feelings of sentimentality in relation to a certain area.  My feelings of attachment are more directed at memories rather than places.  

So, who knew that starting a blog could be so internally thought provoking.  I actually think being so rootless has made me more grounded, and if anything more open and accepting of change.

So, that is who I am a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing.    Welcome to my blog which I promise will cover in greater detail my slow, tortuous descent into insanity but commenting on life, media, and all things fabulous before I actually hit the bottom of the pit. x



Hello world!

22 Aug

Welcome to! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!