The blame must be placed squarely onto lockdown. When you’ve exhausted all the decent shows on every streaming service you have, and when your brain can no longer hold the intricate, weaving plots needed to enjoy another Scandi thriller, you find yourself reaching for some trite, mind-numbing Guilty Pleasure.
Like Bargain Hunt.
#104 Turn a Guilty Pleasure into a Treasure Hunt
In case you haven’t sunk quite as low as I have, Bargain Hunt is an inexpensively-made UK show where two competing pairs of Very Ordinary English People with teeth Untouched by Dentisty are given £300 to spend. Under the guidance of an antique ‘expert’ each team must buy three items at a flea market before on-selling these ‘treasures’ through a reputable auction house.
The team that makes the most profit wins the money they make, and in true British style, this averages out at about £2 per pair. If they’re lucky.
Sadly, I’m hooked on the show. I love shaking my head at their purchases and muttering ‘You’ll never make a profit on that piece of junk’, or yelling, ‘Yes, it’s a lovely vesta case, but £150? Really? ARE YOU MAD?’ Six months ago, I’d never heard of vesta cases, but now, I’m a self-appointed expert on English antiques.
So when a team purchased a Chinese painted blue umbrella-stand recently, I sat up and gasped, ‘I’ve got one of those. Somewhere!’
And so began a treasure hunt to find it and to re-examine all the pieces accumulated throughout a lifetime, from grandparents, parents, or purchased myself on trips overseas. How exciting to think that some of them might be hidden treasures.
Cue Google searches to learn more:
The search became more and more involving as I discovered Grandad’s green hand painted vase might be a Bohemian antique:
Then there were his old fashioned lustre vases:
Every time one of the experts on Bargain Hunt comes across an item with silver detail, they whip out their magnifying glass to decipher the silver hallmark. So I tried to do the same with a small cut glass bath salts jar I’d bought many years ago on a trip to the UK.
Things got more interesting when the small bronze statue I’d fallen in love with at an outdoor art market in London back in the early 70s —
had a legible stamp of the maker:
So I went searching for G Schoeman and what should I find but this:
Oh, my! I’d been at the right place at the right time to purchase a small work of art from an emerging artist!!
By this stage, I was becoming quite invested in Giovanni, so was sad to see he’d died at the relatively young age of 41. What had happened? A tragic illness? A ghastly motor accident?
Then I came across this small snippet:
On no! My lovely sculptor had moved to the US and clearly been innocently caught in the crossfire of the US culture of arms and hitmen. That such talent should be lost so early. Poor Giovanni!
The police found the hitman, a Walter Mitty type “from the dark side”. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life in prison where he remains to this day.
However, there’s an even stranger coda to this story after I found additional news items:
So my new sculptor friend was a diamond smuggler AND a purveyor of lead-shot-filled fakes?
Now I have to wonder if my little bronze statue is quite what I think it is.