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.


8 Responses to “THEM’S DEALERS”

  1. Annie Beckett August 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Love it ange. You paint pictures with words xxx

    • angelacollings August 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

      Oh Annie such lovely words, thank you so much for the feedback. xxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Merv August 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    Ange. Your a Dealer ? I thought you were a shop keeper. lol. Fab as always darling. I too remember such jumble sales and loved Lovejoy.xxxxxxxxxxxx

    • angelacollings August 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      LOL Merv, I am ever the wheeler dealer, I am the Lovejoy of music, thank you so much for commenting xxx

  3. Karen Paterson August 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    I always love reading your stories, makes my day … i admire people who can express themselves with words and how i would love to be able to recall events so eloquently. keep up the good work 8)

    • angelacollings August 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      Karen how kind of you to say that, I am just so glad you enjoy my ramblings xxxxxxxxxx

  4. marie August 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Lovely, how very lovely too stumble across your blog on my way to bed…more please…xx

    • angelacollings August 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      Oh Marie that is so lovely, so glad you enjoyed it I am going to keep going with it,thank you so much for the comments xxx

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