Coming up to London from the country on the slow train, I had a sense of trepidation as my first day at Guinevere approached. I was no stranger to antiques, my father being in the trade for many years. But what to expect from Guinevere?
I needn’t have worried; I was welcomed by all, as the most recent interloper in to this curious and exciting domain. It is fortunate that Natasha (‘oh wise one’ as I have phrased it), who was charged with training me into the job, was able to demonstrate patience, as question after question was fired at her as I attempted to find my feet. ‘It’s good you ask questions’ she said…
Familiarizing myself with this formidable depository of beautiful things, that the Tardis-like Guinevere has, was no mean feat. I was however assisted in this by Dean, Guinevere’s master of design, and his near photographic memory. Responsible for Guinevere’s famous window displays, this purveyor of style will notice anything, I mean anything, which is out of place. Displeasure can be signified with the raising of an eyebrow.
This, of course, went on under the watchful eyes of the partners of the business. Kevin, whilst giving advice and instruction, would also recount anecdotes of lost artworks, or the interesting history of an item, which brought life to many a moment.
I also began to understand the ethos of Guinevere. Antiques, is after all less a job and more a way of life. This, I believe is to be found in an understated sense of enthusiasm and dedication. It is a business of personalities, and many a varied and colourful one is to be found in this maze of valuables.
But don’t be fooled, there was plenty of hands on experience as well. Shouldering a weighty piece of furniture or scaling a step-ladder are all a day-to-day part of the job.
So, as I take the train out of London and watch the city slowly give away to countryside, I reflect on the first three weeks at Guinevere. I shall enjoy the break to the country, but now know that I have an Aladdin’s cave, in more ways than one, to which I shall return.