Sunday, January 29, 2012

They're dreamin'

Darryl Kerrigan, the classic working class Aussie father from The Castle used to like reading the 'For Sale' adverts in the Trading Post.

"Hey Dad - guess how much they want for these jousting sticks?" 
Darryl would hear the outlandish price and scoff, "They're dreamin'!"

It's amazing how often I think of him - a fictional character - when I'm out with Robyn on a brocanting (flea market) jaunt. We tend to meet each other at the Genevan equivalent of Rundle Mall's Balls - The Broken Chair.

This little group regularly demonstrates on the quadrangle out the front and is noticed by, well, no-one much. They're dreamin....

Over at the actual flea market in Plain Palais, I had a five franc budget for the day (that's what having a now-healthy twelve year old does to you) and a determination to photograph anything that elicited a 'They're dreamin'!" response.

Like this. A box of skipping rope handles.

Still, our friend Jenny later remarked that they could in fact be good for those of us who tend to fall over the rope. "Just twirl the handles and jump," she suggested, "without then being in danger of having your ankles whipped out from under you."  A nice idea, but a week later when she went brocanting with Bruce, they were still for sale.

So if a workout partly coordinated by The Invisible Man wasn't a bargain hunters' dream, perhaps a second-hand trophy was.  Hold me back - it was the Inter Banques Petanque Victory Cup from..... *rushed past the 1870s Singer sewing machine* ...... 1988!

Better still, he only wanted a teeny five francs for it!

But we'd only just begun and on the very next stall was a bewildering combination of retro racism, nineties ugliness and mismatched ornamentation:

I'd venture that the blues bass player would not have even heard of a compact disc, let alone be allowed to sit down next to the white men who were developing them several decades after his night club gigs ended.  Sixty francs - they're dreamin'!

But wait ...... what was this I saw before me....?  Something the Abominable Snowman used as his school satchel?

A hairy backpack. Not a euphemism, but slightly mange-affected and with a distinct aroma of armpit. I tentatively stroked it and decided not to ask the price. Coarse hairs had stubbornly stuck to my fingertips and it took several wipes on my jeans to get rid of them.

Gone with the wind in German?  We all know that der Deutschland is the poetic language of lust, love and longing, much as we all tend to say, 'Jeez I'm starving. I'm really hanging out for some German tonight. Cancel the Thai Palace, let's find us some stuffed sausage!'

This stall owner wasn't even trying to convince us that these wooden shoe molds were worth considering, as they were carelessly tipped out on the ground next to some curtains and motorbike helmets.  The effect was slightly creepy and at ten francs per foot, it was beyond 'dreamin'.

Moving right along to get that sad little scene out of my mind, I noticed a masterpiece:

Nude musicians, Picasso-style, for thirty francs. With a bonus empty banana box to carry it home in. Very, very tempting, as was Shazza Stone, featuring in a 1993 magazine shortly after flashing her map of Tassie to fame:

Still my five franc coin stayed in my pocket, now with a few hairy backpack fibres clinging to it. Would it ever be spent on something unique, something special, something that would find a fond spot in our home?

These were five francs each but looked too disgusting to touch, let alone read the labels or sniff the corks. A shrug was all we got in response to "What kind of wine is it? Quelle age?"  
We suspected that the real answer was Le Ancient Garage.

Still, a glug or eleven of Dodgy plonk might have helped convince me that a blowfish lamp could soften the blunt impact of our IKEA-laden apartment:

....or that a set of photographs depicting eye surgery might look a treat when framed and hung up on the eastern wall of the living room.

Maybe the poor patient was given these menthols to help in their recovery afterwards.

Onto Spanish comedy magazines from the nineteen seventies, with Super Senorita's head concealing part of the title so that I originally read it as 'El Pus' magazine and was reluctant to open the pages.

It must be said that a big part of brocanting is the rummaging, especially in neglected boxes of assorted junk. It is there that silver jugs, rare saucers and vintage medical equipment can sometimes be found.  

This box of old mice and cords didn't scream out that usual siren song, however.  Dust, desperation and despair was more like it.

Jenny had already wandered off and found some terrific pewter plates with very intricate inlays on them, hand engraved and dating from the 1920s.  With her halting French, she managed to convince this top-hatted fella to drop the price.

He had some pretty unique and genuinely antique pieces for sale, but the ambience was made slightly challenging by the death metal blasting out of the speakers in the open doors of his van.  Jenny's sign language possibly proved more effective than her spoken French.

Stop the search...... could this be something I put away for Love Chunks, I wondered.  A turn right sign and a yellow bike frame?

Er no.

And this world weary chick agreed with me.

Here it was, finally! THE piece that would make our Allen-Key Apartment a home. A quirky one perhaps, but an individual one.... Tacky, funny, furry and grotesque - flea market perfection.

Yes. This was where my five francs was going to be spent!  A triple-legged lamp stand!

One hundred and fifty? Was monsieur quite sure?  No, I didn't want to take a look at single cow horn night light as a forty franc alternative, so I was on my way.... finding some real art. Art done by the people, for the people.

Well, blind people perhaps.

If the box of Commodore 64-era computer equipment for sale wasn't optimistic enough, we came to these - unloved remotes for five francs each.

Nope, couldn't do it. My coin stayed with me for another hour until I found the complete works of Jane Austen crammed into one bulging paperback - in English - for two francs and a cup of coffee for three.

Four hours of fun for five francs. I'm starting to love living in this bewildering, slightly odd, tiny little city.


The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

What a wonderful load of old tat!

I might have considered the Spanish magazines - but only because I am trying (badly) to teach myself Spanish.



PM said...

Wow so many interesting items. Great pics!

Pandora Behr said...

Superb! That goat leg lamp arrangement - truly hideous.

Andrew said...

Could be any Australian market and probably like here, it can be very surprising about what sells.

Ollie said...

Oh Kath - missed opportunity! Buy all that you can, so that if/when you return to Oz, you can sell it all as IMPORTED and triple the price!

In other news, I'm enjoying reading your blog adventures. Some other time off destinations to visit include:

1. Alpamare near Zurich - a water fun park - open all year, and particularly lovely in the snow.
2. Europa Park near Freiburg in Germany (not far past Basel). Only open in summer, but well worth the trip.

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh. Eeeeuw. Wow. Some of those items are trooly speshul. The three legged lamp is trooly hidjus and the eye surgery is going to haunt me. Thanks (I think) for taking us on this tour.

Red Nomad OZ said...

I can't believe you let some of those pieces go ... would have been interesting to make a 5 franc offer on the more dreamy of the dreamin' stuff & see if they realised that was the best - and only! - offer they'd ever get!!

drb said...

They have to get your mum to help with presentations!

Pauline's toy store at the last church garage sale made >A$900.
But she did put in 3 days worth of solid efforts sorting through the donated toys, cleaning them, changing the clothes of dolls, and packaging them. Even John, Rob and I were enlisted in the process.

FruitCake said...

What... no elephant-foot umbrella stand?

franzy said...

"this bewildering, slightly odd, tiny little city."

When did you move back to Adelaide?

Kath Lockett said...

El Pus, Plasman, might teach you a few rather, um, 'special' words in Spanish.....

Hi vancouverstreetblog - these are but the tip of the Alpine glacier, my friend!

Pandora, that leg lamp was so bad it was brilliant but way beyond my five franc allowance.

Andrew we saw a lady walk off (admittedly very slowly) with a life-sized white ceramic sculpture of a greyhound.

Thanks Ollie - both your ideas are now firmly on my 'Must do/see' list!

E-Child, you're welcome.

RedNomad, I often make an offer and it always gets rejected. I don't seem to have Robyn or Jenny's gift for haggling.

drb, my Mum would have a field day here and her stall would have admirers and buyers flocking from far and wide.

Fruitcake, no elephant's feet but plenty of carved elephant ashtrays, door stops and trinket boxes....

Franzy, Adelaide is eight times bigger than Geneva - official population is around 190,000 with the entire canton nudging 900,000.

River said...

I really like the Picasso style nude musicians and I also like the green lamp on the table in front of the top-hatted gentleman. The shoe moulds are called lasts, I remember taking many dozens of these out of shoes in years past.
You've reminded me that I'm yet to go brocanting at the Fisherman's Market. I'm on the lookout for a set of test tubes in a wooden stand. If you ever spot one, let me know. Seriously, let me know.

Anji said...

I usually end up with books. Funnily enough abandoned Virginia Woolf in English seems popular. Saturday I found some reader's digest selections in French but they all had at least two books in them I wanted to read. Your Brocante looks really fascinating

Christine said...

Thanks for the tour... it's like any garage sale around here, except bigger by the looks of things. Must say I thought the three legged lamp-stand would suit the sitting room here...not.

Kath Lockett said...

LASTS.... that's right River, I couldn't remember the name of the wooden shoe thingies for the life of me. And if I ever see some old-style test tubes, I'll buy em. For five francs, of course :)

I'm always on the lookout for English books too Anji. They're often the best bargain of all because they're seen as worthless by 95% of the population!

Christine, I know. That's why I would have HAD to have bought it if it was five francs. So hideously awful it was a given.

Wally The Walrus said...

Ha ha ha... Oh dear reminds me of the flea markets here. Layer upon layer of crap.

It was similar in the flea market in Lucerne. The fruit and veg market was something I found far more interesting.

Baino said...

I dunno I always thought the Swiss had a modicum of taste...spend it on chocolate!

Kath Lockett said...

Wally I can understand why the food aspects of the markets are more interesting but - trust me - once you get over your shock/revulsion/dismay, having a good rummage is surprisingly addictive.

Baino, I think the Swiss do mostly have taste which is why the stuff I photographed was still there the next week! And five francs on chocolate - barely enough to last me until morning tea time!

Jackie K said...

Honestly I'm not sure how yo let the blowfish lamp go - you'll regret that one. (Imagine, purely logistically, how much room that would take up, and how annoying to have to step around all those spikes all the time!)
I loved this because whenever I am at any kind of market or second-hand shop the phrase "They're dreamin!" goes round and round in my head too!

Vanessa said...

I worked in an ophthalmology ward for my first year as a nurse. That looks like a corneal transplant - most often done on a dead person. If you weren't put off already.
Disclaimer - I totally support tissue donation, just not photographic evidence.

Kath Lockett said...

JackieK, I think that's an Aussie phrase that'll stay with us forever!

Oh Vanessa, that's awful .... but I'm with you on the organ donation thing, I just don't need to buy or hang up photographs of post-mortem corneal tranplants!

mele said...

Hi Kath,

I have started an ebay business which is making money. I source my stuff from markets, op shops and other random stuff. I am making money, and now I know why. None of the stuff I bought was anywhere near as weird or useless as this zany collection.

The goat leg lamp thingo has got to be the weirdest, most spectacular item ever seen in a market. And I have spent two years combing adelaide...what a feat! loved this theme.

diane b said...

You are such a scream. Who would think of taking pics of the outrageous junk at a flea market.
BTW my daughter's BIL is an actor and he was the son in "The Castle"..Steven Curry.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Mele - I suspect that the only success I'd ever have would be on something like Regretsy!

diane-b, Stephen Curry was hilarious as Dale Kerrigan in that movie. Classic Aussie mullet, classic, well, everything.

Silvia Kivatinitz said...

léase en Cordobés Argentino básico viva el papo, típica expresión 70's about the femmine bulb.