The wacky new radio alarm before installing it


Ah-ha ~it has got FM option so now all I have to do is tune it to Radio 3

A fascinating piece in the FAMILY section of Saturday's Guardian about an old box picked up in a junk shop which led Julie Myerson to trace its history right back to the early 1700s and eventually give it back to the family it had belonged to for 200 years : this reminded me of a beautiful box I was given by Georgie Jenkinson ~ red it was, decorated with flowers, and inside a verse in Norwegian which Daddy translated for me ~ Georgie Jenkinson had once run an up-market antique shop in Gloucester and her old house at Thornbury was just bursting with small rare and beautiful objects, this box among them.   She gave me the large red one and the small white one to my youngest sister Helen.    Shortly after our divorce, Dianne Doubtfire and I organised a Writers Weekend at Dunford House near Petersfield ~ not realising that in my official capacity I would not have to pay for the weekend, I was desperate to find the £30 fee and decided to flog my beautiful box to my friend Angela Kirby who had an antique shop down by the Cathedral ~ very appropriately she called it 'Beautiful Things' .  I was working in the Museum at the time which was just across the street from Angela's shop, so the day before the Dunford weekend I struggled down there carrying the large heavy box ~ she was delighted with it and gave me £50 and said she would put it in the window but try not to sell it so that when I'd got enough money I could buy it back ~ but it didn't work out like that (the best laid plans . . . ) and by the time I got home from Dunford with my £50 in tact the box had gone.   For a while, and I can't remember WHY, Helen's little Norwegian box stood on my bureau ~ I may even have a photo of it ~ otherwise the only picture I have of my own box was the one somebody took of the window of Beautrful Things with the red dowry chest among all her other treasures ~ this picture was used to illustrate the article I wrote about Angela and her shop for some magazine ~ too late tonight to rummage about looking for it but will find it in the morning.   Perhaps it's materialistic of me, but I deeply regret losing such a treasure ~ maybe somebody reading this will know what happened to that box, who bought it and where it is now ~ and to think that as the organiser  I didn't even need the money for our Dunford Novelists weekend ~ Dianne and I got free places.   The event was a terrific success and we ran it for several years ~ more of that another time.

Friday 31st : recently I got this super oil from Lakeland : Orange Oil Polish ~ I'll get a photo later : it smells delicious and the wood loves it ~ I'm working slowly through the house ~ yesterday I gave the bureau a jolly good go and it is looking a treat, this morning I've started on the bedroom furniture ~ the old tallboy and wardrobe ~ even PAINTED wood benefits from this rich oil ~ doing one or two items a day and then only when I feel up to it is most satisfying ~ eventually I'll oil the doors, nine of them plus the front door.

Now, I found a copy of the article I wrote about my friend Angela Kirby and her fascinating shop Beautiful Things which appeared in SHE years and years ago but sadly my Norwegian dowry box is not in the accompanying photo ~ nevertheless, I'll see if I can copy the photo though result may be feeble.  Perhaps I'll give you the full text that went with it . . .

"My Friend Angela

I wish you could meet my friend Angela Kirby.   She’s one of the most enterprising and energetic people I know.   In addition to running her home, a 17-roomed monastic grange which has somehow survived from medieval times within a stone’s throw of the bustling High Street here in Winchester, Angela caters for bed and breakfast guests during the tourist season.   Then on Monday evenings throughout the year there are her “talk and fork” supper parties at which she entertains up to 25 people to a delicious meal served buffet style around her enormous scrubbed table which could well be as old as the oak-beamed kitchen itself.   You have to book a place in good time as it’s about the best evening out for miles around.   Good food, exhilarating company, a delightful setting, and “the talk” still to come.  It could be anything from collecting silver to the language of the medieval cathedral, given by an expert in the field and invariably followed by animated discussion, sometimes going on into the small hours.   Pretty good value at £5 a head.

          Three years ago, finding herself unemployed after 13 years teaching in a boys’ school, Angela took over an empty shop and with no capital whatever (“Yes, I mean it ~ I was penniless at the time.”) she set herself up in business.

          Beautiful Things she called her shop, and sure enough the window quickly filled up with silver and porcelain, old books, pictures, glass, brass, Victorian dolls with china heads, paper weights, oil lamps, lead soldiers.   It soon became a cornucopia of beautiful things.
          “Without any capital !” you are probably snorting to yourself.   Well, the secret of Angela’s success is commission selling.  You might entrust her with Granny’s silver grape scissors,  the painted chest Uncle Bernie brought home from Norway in 1881, the governess cart you inherited (along with a load of old rubbish) from your Godmother, and Angela will be only too happy to sell them on your behalf, getting a professional valuation if necessary, and finding an expert to frame or restore them if that will help.

          She takes 20% commission and ensures you get a damned good price for your treasure.   “I love getting more than someone expects for her stuff.   I can fight like mad as an agent.  If I’d bought the picture or whatever outright from the customer, so it was my own things I was selling, I’d probably just take whatever I was offered.”   (I guess a lot of women are like this ~ reticent on their own behalf, fierce for family and friends.)   The customer can put a reserve price on her goods, and reclaim them before they are sold.

          I was in Beautiful Things one day when an irate fellow came in to rescue the old kitchen chair his wife had given to Angela, but funnily enough he left it with her in the end.   It was perfectly obvious that commission selling was a winner.

          There’s barter too in Beautiful Things ~ some silver teaspoons and an urn were exchanged for an antique microscope, a richly embroidered kimono for a wax-headed doll.

          Angela has recently moved from her original rather large and grotty premises on Jewry Street to a Georgian establishment in the Square looking down the avenue of ancient limes to the West Front of the Cathedral.  “Come in to browse,” reads a notice in the bay window, “or to chat, or to complain about the weather, or even to buy something !”

          And they do just that.   They drift in to sit on her gorgeous sofas and priceless chairs, fingering her beautiful things lovingly.

          People trust Angela.   “One antique dealer offered me £20 for this,” confided an elderly Brigadier, bringing her an ebony cane with a carved ivory handle, “but I’d rather you took it, my dear ~ I know you’ll get me a fair price.”  

          In spite of her mind-boggling busy life, Angela always has time to talk, time to listen, which might be another of the secrets of her success.   She has a gift for making you feel you are the one person she was hoping to meet.   That you’ve made her day.   Which of course makes yours.

          If you are down this way anytime, why not call in and meet Angela at Beautiful Things.   Anyone will direct you.   It’s quite an experience, Iand who knows what treasures you might find."    {As published in SHE magazine sometime around 1980}

 Friday evening: It must have been some 35 years ago that this was published in that rather up-market magazine SHE ~ my cutting is not dated, but it was well before I moved up here ~ probably not long after our divorce.   Looking SHE up on Google, I see it was published monthly for 56 years until it closed in August 2011 by which time it was described as ' offering positive and inspiring articles on women for lesbians  . . .'   for LESBIANS !!!    It had certainly changed its spots since my day ~ I had a couple of pieces in it, and not one of them remotely lesbian !

I wish my painted Norwegian box had shown up in the picture ~ I have this crazy dream that one day it will come back to me.   One or two Winchester friends were furious with me when they heard what I'd done ~ Sybil said she would have lent me the fee for our Dunford weekend with the box as surety ~ it's a good job Georgie Jenkinson was no longer with us by then to hear that I'd sold her beautiful heirloom !

But some good news before I switch off ~ the new radio alarm works brilliantly ~ sure enough it woke me at 6.30 with a burst of Gilbert & Sullivan ~ in the night, I just had to touch the metal rim of the shade and it lit up ~ and another touch to switch it off, though all night the actual clock face glowed a soft orange ~ and true to description in catalogue, Coopers of Stortford, getting it going really was straightforward.   Should the shade get broken, a replacement can be ordered FREE ~ I am very pleased I chose it.

Angela in her Beautiful Things shop in Winchester ~ a rather beautiful thing herself !