CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Going Potty

scan0008Well, I've had one of the most unpleasant days I've ever had and, that's compared to most days being pretty damn shitty to begin with.

A while back, I dug out a letter I'd kept since 1990, from Joan Jones, the (apparently still) curator of the Minton Museum, with regard to two coffee cans and saucers, made by L A Birks & Co, Vine Pottery, Stoke, between 1896 - 1900. (You can almost see one in the image, right, to the left of the vase.)

Ms. Jones' letter tells me that Birks (Laurence Arthur) was a former pâte-sur-pâte artist at Minton, who left in 1896 to set up on his own. The design on these is a close copy of Minton's Delft pattern, which at the time, wasn't under copyright protection.

Since these could only have been made in that 4 year span, presumably, the copy is rarer than the original, but what I don't know is if that "rarity" has a positive effect on their value.

And there's only one way to find out, I reckon: get an expert opinion.

Anyway, for a long time, mother has been telling me about an auctioneer in Lymington that supposedly someone she knows has recommended. She purports to know everything about it, so I accept and leave it at that.

It's not urgent, but yes, I'm looking to sell these and the vases.

However, I can't just get up and go places. If I want to have a day out, with all the pain it will entail, I have to plan ahead, taking it easy for a couple of days beforehand. I'll still postpone outings if I wake up in too much pain or if I'm tired, because I know that will increase the recovery time - yes, just from a simple shopping trip - from the minimum 3 days to much longer.

Remember, I've spent 13 years pacing myself and balancing this problem.

Anyway, today was a bad day, pain wise and had I any choice in the matter, I would never have gone out at all, but mother decided that it was sunny, she wanted to go and I knew if I'd said no, she'd have one of her tantrums.

The other reason for going to Lymington is because last time I'd been there, I'd found a branch of Millets and, having compared the quality and prices of their clothing with the utter crap in the fashion stores, I thought that they were much better value for warm and weatherproof clothing. Told mother about it and she said we'd go and get "everything I needed."

Of course she doesn't have to, but I have absolutely no warm clothes and, before I came back to the UK, I made it clear that I would have to have clothes for the climate and, that I would not have money to buy them myself. Mother assured me she would buy me an entire new wardrobe, no problem.

And she's a fucking liar.

So, we get the local bus to New Milton, and then wait half an hour for the bus to Lymington - I know this sounds like no big deal, but it causes me a lot of pain, so I don't undertake the journey lightly. (I also have to find a loo at least once in that amount of time.)

We get off in Lymington at the bus stop she says is near the place she claims to know all about. And we walk miles and around back streets and then she says she THINKS it's around here somewhere, but isn't sure where. She doesn't have the address and she can't remember the name and she hasn't thought to write it down and bring it with her!

She randomly selects a building at the end of any street and swears that's where it "used to be". It's a removals firm and has "Removals" painted in gold lettering on the glass above the door in a style that makes it obvious that it has been a removals firm since somewhere around the 1930's.

To say that she's making up a total load of bullshit as we go along is the biggest understatement of the millennium and I'm not a happy bunny.

By chance, we do find an auctioneer in a back street. We don't know them, we have no idea if they're trustworthy. She says they aren't the name she was given, but I'm supposed to go in there and be content with their opinion.

The man there gave the items a cursory glance and declared each of them worth a condescending £10-12, including the Chinese vase that a (well known, professional and respected) auctioneer friend of mine in Birmingham had valued at £300, almost 20 years ago.

That vase, one of a pair, came from a well-to-do old lady who had a house stuffed with £15,000 + cabinets. The vases won't be £10 junk and my mother absolutely knows they won't be junk, because the old lady (now deceased) who gave them to me had been my mother's next door neighbour. She gave the vases to my mother to give to me and, at that time, my mother was fully aware they had some value, because she herself had told me they did.

Now she claims she "can't remember" that this is where I got the vases. She can, strangely enough, remember every other tiny detail about the woman.

But that was that. That was what "the expert" said and mother was virtually laughing and gloating because I had been "proved wrong": that these were almost worthless junk. Whereas, I'm more inclined to believe that the bloke didn't really know what he was looking at.

We then stop for a coffee in a really nice coffee shop, which was completely wasted on my mother, because she wouldn't be able to tell the difference between good coffee and dishwater.

She announces while we're in there that she refuses to have coffee out because she "just can't afford it." It was hellishly expensive, but oddly enough, I can still enjoy that (occasionally and rather than having to put up with dishwater), provided the voice of doom and gloom isn't whining in my ear and rushing me to drink up and leave.

The truth of the matter is that everything in this country is hellishly expensive, but I just couldn't cope with any outing without regular breaks to sit down, plenty to drink and yet more frequent visits to the bog.

We then walk into a charity shop and find a £3.79 top, which mother says is absolutely perfect for her upcoming Christmas do. She's clattering on about what it will go with, when she changes her mind mid-breath - coincidentally when I happen to say "yes, I like that" - and decides that it will be too big, will hang dreadfully off the shoulders, will look awful ... I measure it up against her cardigan and it is exactly the same width. She refuses to accept the "hard evidence", but snaps that I can have it if I want it. I didn't say that and I didn't want it. It was not my style at all.

Then we walk to Millets where she ums and ahs and questions and pulls faces about the cost of the waterproof jacket - that I'd told her two weeks ago was £25. It was £24.99. That's definitely not expensive. It's also not insulated, is not winter weight, but at least it will be weatherproof, as nothing else I have is.

Apart from that, I got one lightweight, microfiber top (£17.99), with free sighs and grimaces. That's it? That's my "entire winter wardrobe" is it?

And, if that's the reaction to the cheapest jacket in the shop (hardly more than a plastic mac really), what's the chance of getting a winter weight garment?

Or, more to the point, what fucking chance do I have of surviving a British winter after 16 years in the sub-tropics and with a severe sensitivity to cold - a known symptom of fibromyalgia - without proper winter weight garments?

The other "interesting" thing was that, while we were in Millets and one other shop where I found something worth looking at, she had to sit down (head bent, sighing) and was rushing me to pay up and go. Then we'd get outside and she'd announce that she "just has to go to ...", as though it was planned or a commitment she'd made to someone and, off she went browsing round clothes shops for her, where she had no problems at all, strangely.

We only went out at just before 11 a.m. and were back on the 2 p.m. bus, at home before 3 p.m., but I felt like I'd done 11 rounds with Muhammad Ali. By the time we got back to New Milton, I was in excruciating pain and could hardly put one foot in front of the other. At 84, she was racing on ahead of me.

She's starting, finally, to accept that I must have something wrong, but now she's convinced herself that the doctor will just give me a pill and it will be cured.

Sympathy and compassion are still conspicuous by their absence.

We got indoors and she goes off to the kitchen mumbling away in a stage whisper, still moaning about something - me, obviously - just because I'd said I didn't want a cup of tea. She does this every time she encounters reality and doesn't like it, which is pretty damn often, as you can probably tell.

How can anyone be this selfish and venomously negative, so constantly? Is it simple senility or calculated cruelty? Does it even matter really? All I know is I'll soon end up in the loony bin if I have to put up with much more of it.

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