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Tony Grist

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Keeping Up With Alan Bennett [Dec. 22nd, 2016|08:00 pm]
Tony Grist
I've been reading extracts from Alan Bennett's diary for 2016 as published in the LRB. He has a life very like yours and mine- riding his bike, going to stately homes and garden centres, thinking about death- but punctuated regularly by encounters with the famous. When Bowie dies he writes about having met him in the 70s and finding him so washed out as to be hardly present and wrongly thinking him Scottish (because of the orange hair, I suppose). It made me wish I had simlar anecdotes in the locker. Like any other wealthy liberal Bennett is woebegone about Brexit and Trump and I'm not sure whether to find this reassuring- because he really is just like the rest of us- or disappointing- because where are the cutting apercus, the surprising sidelights?

I own both of Bennett's earlier collections of journals and occasional writings and will probably acquire the one he's publishing this year- if not hot from the press at least as soon as it starts showing up post-Christmas in the charity shops.

One revelation made me not so much sad as slightly angry. You know those antique shows where the buyers compete to make the most money at auction on items sourced from shops and car boot sales? Well, Bennett has it from a shop-owner friend- who declined to take part but learned things during the buttering up process- that sellers are told they'll be paid the full asking price for everything no matter how much the buyers appear to beat them down. So all the bartering that goes on is simply acting- and doesn't reflect the sort of deals the ordinary punter can expect to get away with. I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2016-12-23 10:01 am (UTC)
A dealer which we used to visit regularly in Clare, Norfolk was on Antiques Roadshow and related a similar story. They also come in first, look around and focus on the items they are later going to "browse and discover".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-23 10:21 am (UTC)
I can well believe it.

Ailz and I were once the subject of a mini documentary put together by some film students. None of it was fly on the wall, everything was rehearsed and blocked out. In one shot I had to cross the room carrying a cut of tea and they had me do it over and over again- just as Stanley Kubrick would have done.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2016-12-23 10:01 am (UTC)
A dealer which we used to visit regularly in Clare, Norfolk was on Antiques Roadshow and related a similar story. They also come in first, look around and focus on the items they are later going to "browse and discover".
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2016-12-23 05:36 pm (UTC)
That show annoys me because they've got it backwards. If you want bargains, you have to hunt around in charity shops, car boot sales and possibly auctions, then you add a mark up and sell it in a shop. You're not going to get a bargain in a shop that you can later sell at a profit at auction.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-12-23 05:47 pm (UTC)
The only way they can hope to make a profit on items from shops is to beat the sellers down on price- and now we learn that the bartering is a charade...
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