I had a wonderful teacher in mum as she was a terrific saleswoman and had the gift of the gab. She was happy to sit all day with her coat on in the freezing cold, loving every minute of it – and of course I get that. Amazing to think that my mum’s first sale was a Chinese rug £3 and 10 shillings. That seemed to start her off nicely although it finished my dad off completely as it was their own from home and she had kept it quiet.
Mum had so many famous faces through the door in those days: Joan and Jackie Collins, glittering Liberace swaying around flashing a ring in the shape of a piano. Lee Remick, Mick Jagger, Shirley Bassey, Marty Feldman, Dustin Hoffman popping in between performances of The Merchant of Venice and even John Lennon purchasing a confessional booth to convert to a telephone box – we had them all.
The rent in the shop for mum’s space was £3 15 shillings per week and when it was increased by 10 shillings she thought long and hard whether to stay on – thank goodness she did.
Then in the mid 70s I got married, moved down to Bournemouth, started frequenting all the abundant antiques shops and auctions back then and supplying mum with carloads of goodies… happy days.
Many pitches and fairs followed – Portobello at £22 a stall, Kempton, Sandown, Ally Pally, The Bell House Beaconsfield, Dorking Halls, Horticultural Hall, Chelsea Town Hall, Cannizaro house in Wimbledon – you name it, we did it.
Then in the 80s we took part in Olympia which lasted 25 years – although very pressurised, we revelled in it. At one we sold a William IV library table to Douglas Hurd and awaited a cheque from the foreign office. Princess Margaret was brought onto our stand and we had to ‘bob’ politely.
’Stuff’ went all over the place… to all four corners of the world. But our favourite was always the Decorative fair which we so looked forward to, discussing in great detail what stock to take, what theme to follow. So exciting selling to the likes of Guy Ritchie, Michelle Lineker, Jemima Khan, Florence & The Machine (although we were unaware at the time!), Emma and Julian Fellowes of Downton fame.
Mum was very determined in her decisions, very professional in her approach to the business and I admired her for that.
Often the simplest things in life make us happy and for mum it was family and time spent in her beloved Majorca, but above all we were so fortunate to share a love of antiques for 50 years.
Thank goodness we shared the ‘Golden Years’… ’Good old days’ as they say and although I carry on without mum, she is always by my side and never far from my thoughts.
That’s her legacy. So long, partner.
From daughter Jan Keyne, Town & Country Antiques