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Antiques

I’m a very lucky old git, at least that’s according to the wife and mistress. ‘Having put up with me almost since time began, darned my socks and looked after my each and every need, then I suppose she occasionally might think so. She’s probably right, she sometimes is.

I’m very lucky to have a den, my own private ‘man’ space where I can chill-out with my dog, feet up with a glass of falling-over water whenever the chance arises and whilst she’s busy in the house, scrubbing floors and doing ‘wifey’ things like cooking meals and ironing my shirts. My den is in fact a purpose built study –cum- office above my showroom which in turn, is in the grounds of a historic 18th cent. Irish country farmhouse. A desk is beneath a window overlooking the garden, towards open meadows and on towards the Blackstairs Mountains and Mount Leinster rising in the distance. It’s the sort of view that brings to mind J.S. Bach’s , Cantata 208: ‘Sheep may safely graze’ when gazing out and waiting for my dinner.

‘Often late I would add, and I must have a sharp word with her.

tools of the trade 1

It was in these meadows, just below the Blackstairs foothills that an early Iron Age barrow (barrow as in earth mound – not as in wheel) was excavated a few years ago. During the excavation a high status grave was discovered containing the remains of a warrior Celtic prince or sub-king. A huge man in life, he probably stood over 6ft 2ins and broad shouldered with it. His bones showing clear signs of earlier healed trauma, wounds etc., probably sword or knife inflicted. Clearly whoever he was, this Irishman was no wimp and certainly would not take very kindly to the contents of his beer glass being knocked over him in a crowded bar. ‘Or indeed, his wife being late with his supper.

Nor was he a Christian kind of guy ( St Patrick not yet having arrived in Ireland ) because this big fella was buried with the tools of his trade together with what passed in the 3rd century for a packed lunch. All of these were needed for his journey to the underworld, Valhalla, or wherever he was destined. The tools of his trade included a large, heavy double edged sword, two spears, a long knife and a round shield. Around his neck was a heavy solid gold torc to proclaim his position and status to whoever he might meet, wish to impress, or decide to kill. In short, in life he had been a professional thug who loved bling.

Now, I’m a typical 21st century honest John antique dealer and not in the habit of keeping a large sword hanging from my side when carrying out my lawful daily business. I do have a small antique silver cigar cutter always carried in my pocket for luck, but that’s not quite in the same league. Similarly, solid gold neck torcs are ‘so yesterday’ and are just not me.

Finally, and I am now getting to the point of this monologue, I start to wonder what any of us in the same position of our Celtic friend would like placed in our grave to take with us to the next world. What ‘tools of the trade’ will we need to survive when dead, if you see my point? Swivelling around in the chair I start to look at my den in a different light. Do I really need all this stuff in order to make a dollar wherever my last journey leads me? No. Do I need the filing cabinets and racks of box files full of papers that I will never read again but have to keep by law? No. Do I really need a 6ft desk? No. Would I miss the jumble of junk and ‘man toys’ upon it? Not at all. Would I miss the computer and telephone? Errrrr, well not the computer anyway because I did OK long before Bill Gates turned us all into square eyed zombies with information overload. The phone? My old BlackBerry phone is my one addiction and whilst it would probably not survive the fierce heat of my final destination it just might, and I could then twiddle with the keys whilst trying to flog Beelzebub a lovely little Sheraton period fold-over card table with only one previous lady owner, at a trade price. So that’s a definite ‘Yes’. What else? ‘Bearing in mind that knowledge is power, and most of my colleagues will already be here or en route, the most useful thing any dealer really needs is a fully updated list of trade contacts together with a note of their individual vices and peccadillo’s, because as all will testify a successful antique dealer has neither friends nor enemies, only self interests.

My personal choice of grave goods then would be my lucky cigar cutter, my BlackBerry phone and my bulging Filofax. A decent packed lunch would also be quite nice. Others reading this might have ideas of their own.

Leaving the comfort of my den I go in search of my long awaited supper only to find a note saying “Have gone away and your dinner’s in the dog”. The note also talks about someone being a lazy misogynistic swine although I am at a loss to know exactly who she means.

‘Hope she comes home soon, because the washing up is still waiting to be done…..