I found myself with a free lunch hour on the very same day that the second-hand-market is held in town. So what could I do, but go for a wander? It is a lovely market, because the stalls selling vintage linens and jewellery and all kinds of nick-nacks are intersperesed with those selling perfect juicy oranges and brown speckled eggs.
I looked in my purse and found £5 and decided to devote it entirely to frippery and pleasure. Firstly, I visited my favourite stall, one that sells jewellery and vases and all little bits. They have a shoebox filled with old photographs and postcards, and I sifted through it wondering who all the people were. How long had they taken choosing out their outfits to be photographed in? Who had they rushed home to show them to? And how had they come to be here, mingled in with so many others? It was hard to choose just one, and part of me wanted to carry off the whole box, but in the end, the one that spoke to me was a misty black-and-white picture of a young woman, perhaps in her twenties, and taken, I suspect, in the 1920s. It looks to me as though she may have embroidered the collar on the blouse she is wearing, and I wonder what else she made with her needle? What happened to that blouse? Her picture may have drifted away from her family, but for the 50p I paid, she can be part of my family of black-and-white ladies.
I picked out a bar of creamy swiss chocolate for 55p, and then spent the rest of my money on flowers. I got two bunches of tiny narcissi, 'Sol', which have a wonderful delicate scent. I also bought a bunch of larger daffodils, and have put the two together in the same vase on my windowsill.
All that, and change in my pocket too!
Now let me recommend two books to you, and warn you off of another! The two I must share are 'The War-Time Stories of Mollie Painter-Downes' which is published by Persephone, and I devoured in a day. If you like Mrs Miniver, you will love this. The other is a sumptuous picture book called 'Parisiennes: A Celebration of French Women' and is full of vintage photographs of the most elegant french ladies, going about their daily lives. I don't often feel so violently about books, but when I finished The Rose of Sebastopol, I wanted to throw it clear across the room! Perhaps if it had been mine and not the library's, I may have. I loved it, could not put it down, got up early to read it, and went to bed early with it, loved every part of it....except the end. The first blow was that a chunk of the book is reading group discussion notes, so the end of the story comes before you expect it. The second is that the whole point of the story is the search for a particular character, and you are left not knowing if she is dead or alive, and who else survies, and what happens.....the whole point is missing! I suspect we are meant to infer certain things, but I do not like to have it all left so undecided!
I must bid you adieu for now, because I want an early night. Tomorrow, the most scrumptious day beckons- a trip to London, tea at Claridges, and then Wicked! Have a delicious weekend!