Firstly, on Sunday morning I was given these artificial grave flowers, which are probably around a hundred years old.
Some friends were bushwalking in the Kalgoorlie area and found them lying in the dust, presumably in a long-forgotten graveyard. They assumed that both the leaves and the flowers were tin, but the flowers are actually fine porcelain. The craftsmanship on them is quite astonishing.
Secondly, late on Sunday afternoon I finally managed to get inside an antique shop in Maylands that has wonderful things in the window but never seems to be open. I quickly discovered the reason for this: the owner is insane.
Not just insane... barking delusional old Russian man insane. He talked - loudly, aggressively, bitterly and endlessly - the whole time I was in his shop. Why does no one in this country appreciate fine antiques? he demanded as I browsed through the silverware, in a way that suggested that any answer other than smiling and nodding would only make him angier. This vase is Lalique, this soap is Savon de Marseille, that jug is Carlton Ware, but you philistines only want your bigscreen TVs! I have a book here about Lord By-Ron (pronounced as if he were a minor character from a Superman comic) but nobody here even knows who he is! Why do you people not appreciate art and culture and learning? If I were in London I would have people in my store all day long, but here I only had four customers yesterday!
You'd have more people in your store if you opened for more than ten minutes at a time, I reflected. The Lalique vase is a very crude example, there's a crack in that Carlton Ware jug, and I may not be the most cultivated man in the world, but even I know that it's pronounced Marsay, not Marsales. You noisy old bigot.
I eventually shut him up by waving money in his face and declaring that I wanted to buy some candle holders. It calmed him down, briefly, as if he had suddenly remembered that people who want to give you money = a good thing. Unfortunately handing him money meant that I was a captive audience until he'd wrapped the items and found me some change. However I've had a few dealings with blathering nutjobs over the years (mostly from my time working with ham radio enthusiasts), so I've learnt how to hurry them along and cut them short. If I hadn't, I'd probably still be trapped in a stullifying conversation about vacuum tubes that began in 1995. The trick is to remind yourself that, probably through no fault of their own, these people can't read social cues. As such, you don't have to worry about appearing rude.
So when our transaction was complete, I simply thanked him and walked out of the shop, with him still bellowing about Stewart crystal and ignorant Australians to my retreating back.
I do like the candle holders. They're not signed, but judging from the style and the craftsmanship they're probably from the late 60s or early 70s, and possibly Danish.