Well, try anything once is Battleaxe’s motto – well, it used to be her motto, perhaps not so much these days – bungee jumping off a Thai ravine while under the influence of crystal meth can be left to those younger than me. Anyway, have just got home after a gruelling few hours being thoroughly British – smiling in queues – at the Antiques Roadshow in Battle.
We went with our friend Roz. I took one of my nicest vintage Mdina vases – a tall, heavy one that I got from a junk shop in St Leonards about 8 years ago, and Roz had a Japanese painting, a Japanese wooden box and a piece of jewellery. Philospher just came along with a bit of reluctance.
Well, it started off easily – parked in the Park and Ride and caught the shuttle bus to the Abbey. At first sight, it looked simple – a tent marked Reception. We strolled up to it and was told ‘No, you need to join the queue’. Well, there were at least 300 people in that queue already – it was snaking round the field and moving very slowly. To cut a long story short we queued for about 1.5 hours before seeing Reception again, to then be given a ticket and nodded through to the next bit. I left the queue for a bit to get coffee and cakes from the Abbey Cafe and go to the loo – both loos and refreshments were in very short supply.
Saw all sorts of people we knew… very white, middle-class, slightly older demographic. Well, you’ve seen it on the telly.
I was directed to Andy McConnell’s glass valuation table. We know him a bit already from his glass shop in Rye, but also turns out he is by far the most maverick showman of all the experts. I got trapped in a chair right by him – he was yakking on interestingly but unstoppably about all the pieces and there was no way I could reasonably escape. Believe it or not I was there about another 1.5 hours before he got round to my vase. Still, I was better than folk in some of the other queues. After quite a quick session with David Batty on her Japanese things, Roz was stuck in an interminably slow silver queue … in the end we made our excuses and left her to it.
The weather had started dull and cool but turned boiling hot. We got chatting to one bloke who said that at a previous roadshow he had been selected to be filmed, which meant sitting in another waiting area for 2 hours! How it worked was this. The experts saw your things, then about 1 in 50 they’d select for filming. The lucky ones had to go and wait in a (shadeless) pen to be called forward for a ‘production appointment’. Some are not called at all and eventually get sent away. If you are called, you are sent to make-up, then wait again, go to another area with your expert to be filmed. Filming one segment that would be 90 seconds worth of telly footage could take up to half-an-hour… So, spontaneous? Off the cuff? I don’t think so. Hell, Battleaxe and Philosopher should know about hanging about for telly production – look at this previous post!
And, final gripe, some of the BBC people were astonishingly rude. For example, I took a photo of the jewellery woman, only for someone to snap at me ‘don’t you realise that you are not allowed to photograph other people’s valuations?’ Well, no actually, there was nothing on the information sheet to say so, and anyway, what on earth is the point of employing household name experts to appear if you are not allowed to photograph them? Given that there was a crowd about 6 deep round each table, it would have been a little hard to get much detail on the valuation anyway…
However, Andy McConnell was very complimentary about my vase – said it was a lovely, unusual piece and worth about two hundred quid.
I did manage to catch some of the others….
So, it was one of those things where it was good to have gone once, but I don’t think I’d go again…. heesh, those queues. To finish, here is a nasty case of Sound-Man’s bum… a bum note to end this post…