The fishermen’s boat model bought in Madagascar by Robin Mitchell.

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Before I was halfway through, I’d heard myself saying “I’ve got one of those” or “I’ve done that” several times. By the end of the piece I recognised that here was a man, not of the same generation, but after my own heart, with similar attitudes, tastes and objectives, with a good eye, and who loves a bargain.

I believe these trappings are heaven-sent, they are not necessarily inherited, and they remain with us throughout our lives. I am now 80, and I still have them. On the other hand, I recall my mother would never allow what she called “clutter” in the house!

As a young lad, I once went to work in my father’s small factory, where he produced cleaning wipers for use in dockyards and on the railways. At the end of the week, my father gave me 10 shillings (50p), which I immediately spent on a Dinky bulldozer, which I still have, in its box. Perhaps that was the start of the disease.

I laughed out loud when Michael mentioned his wife’s rolling eyes. My wife’s face is a picture when I return home on a Sunday lunchtime from the Devizes weekly antiques market, with yet another old chair. I couldn’t risk a table…

Having lived in Saudi Arabia and France for considerable periods of time, we have items from both places. Carpets and bedouin jewellery from the first, and Napoleon III furniture and light fittings from the second.

We, like Michael, have a bit of space, and thankfully a cellar, where the remains of our French brocante are stored.

Sadly, we will have to downsize in the not too distant future – what a wrench that will be. Most of our items have a story to tell, and we shall be sad to lose them.

The nearest thing we have to a pond yacht, (something I have always coveted), is a balsa wood model of a fishermen’s boat, which was bought in Madagascar in 1966, while on an RAF detachment. This model is still proudly gathering dust on top of our Chippendale ‘style’ display cabinet!


A First World War letter owned by Robin Mitchell.

Finally, in response to Michael’s final paragraph, I have to admit to a shared interest in militaria, and particularly the RAF and RFC.

One item which keeps me interested for hours is a collection of letters from a RFC cadet to his parents, during his training and eventually his operational flying with 10 Sqn at the end of the First World War. I smiled when I read that he asked his parents to purchase a new uniform, and insisted that it be RFC, and not the new-fangled RAF! I was also surprised to see from his envelopes, that as an officer, he was allowed to censor his own letters – does that still apply?

Strength to your elbow Michael, and thank you to Laura Chesters for an uplifting article.

Robin Mitchell