Sometimes life defies being categorised and the vicissitudes of meeting someone who is an expert in their field humbles you so much, you do not expect any connection. But there it is. Life. And before you start saying to me in a very Marvin tone, “Don’t talk to me about…” I shall. Tell you about it, I mean.
I have just done a little accidental work with Auntie Beeb, (the BBC) for the new BBC 2 programme The Antiques Map of Great Britain. Having been chosen out of a slew of eager contenders/participants/contributors, simply for the quality of my local items, emails had flown back and forth, and the day finally arrived. I arrived in Bakewell, glammed up and yet somehow in a really calm and happy frame of mind.
The runners did their running from the Green Room to the set (a strange tube-like, wheeled large cigar contraption) which housed Tim Wonnacott and all the frills and furbelows of a TV production. He was charming and my goodness does he know his stuff. Well, you would expect an ex-auctioneer from Sotheby’s to do so. I reiterate, what a wealth of knowledge. Not patronising in any way, just comfortable chatting about the objects I had brought and the extraordinary question he asked at the end. Having had the microphone fitted, the cameras did not intrude at all, nor was it nerve-wracking, or intimidating.
So we spoke for a long while about the Susse bronzed plaster papetiere brevete wall brackets in the shape of angels and designed to carry candles or flower arrangements. I told him how I had purchased them at the Sotheby’s Attic Sale at Chatsworth in June 2010, where the Duke of Devonshire was raising money for an anaerobic digester, how I had been sitting behind Jerry Hall and my late husband had spotted these angels and encouraged me to buy them. Tim then took over and explained the Susse brothers made a number of items, but they were possibly most famous for their employee Daguerre who invented the original camera, (Aha I thought with a ping of intuition Daguerrotype!) and had nothing whatsoever to do with the Susse Brothers (also from Paris) who had a foundry which produced bronze sculptures. In his opinion, my wall brackets were important, as they were listed on the Chatsworth Inventory for 1859 in the Drawing Room. He surmised that not only did the 5th Duke purchase them, but they were an excellent example of the aristocracy ‘pretending’ that the items were real. He then went on to cite one other example he had seen. I was quite whelmed at this point, but the killer question was next…
He asked me where I lived and I gave the name of a small rural village not far out of Bakewell. He raised his eyebrows and asked if I knew so-and-so, to which I replied that as I had lived there for over thirty years and he drove past my home daily, that I did. A mere two degrees of separation, not the requisite seven.
Next time, I hope it will be one.