This week she came at the beginning of the week to drop off the washed linen. Keeping the stock in a small-ish suburban house is a pain. Many things I keep on display all over the house until they've sold. Lots of things are in my conservatory and dining room in storage boxes and many are all wrapped up in boxes waiting for the postie to come and collect. There's a constant movement of "nice things" (family saying) and I am beginning to get the feeling that I'm living in an antique shop. So in comes mum, linen in hand, and while I'm making her requisite sweet coffee, she's padding about putting Mrs Cooper Smith's doilies underneath the all of the "nice things" in the living room. I know what's she's doing, because she does it all the time. She makes mini still lives out of the stock as soon as she comes through the door and she doesn't even ask. She's the boss, she's my mum. By the time I've made the coffee there are clusters of early 19th century blue and white pottery (her favourite) on the table in the bay window, she silently points to an American walnut mantel clock on mantel, there's an Edwardian biscuit barrel on the side table by my knitting and she has rearranged all of the cushions.
I look at her with sympathy and say, "it's all sold, mum. I've got to wrap it today."
"I don't know how you bear it," she says vaguely disappointed.
She points at the pink roses in the cranberry glass jug on the table and simply says, "beautiful!" The jug is on sale this week and I know it will sell. She begins to wax lyrical about the day I will finally get "premises". She'll come in and help, she'll polish the furniture and arrange the stock...she'll let me do the buying. She thinks there should be a chenille curtain separating the antique shop from the tea shop - I object to chenille and think it should be Sanderson's vintage chintz. She wrinkles her nose, but concedes. She thinks the shop should be arranged like a living room, so that everything seems useful, beautiful and appropriate. She says that we should offer a curtain making service. She is old enough to realise that a virtual antiques shop is nowhere near as aesthetically fulfilling as a real one. When she talks about the virtual shop she says "you" when she talks about the fantasy real shop she says "we".
"Don't you ever keep the things you really love?" she asks.
I tell her that I sell everything. However, I also say that when I really love something I put it on sale for a high starting price. I describe the Victorian salad dish with the roses and bluebirds on it and say that I thought it would never sell because I put it on for a £34.99 start - but it did sell and I dutifully packed it off to America. She points to Mrs Cooper Smith's cushion which I cleaned and re-stuffed last weekend and says, "but you're keeping that."
I consider for a moment and smile, "yes, mum. I think I will keep that. Just to please Mrs Cooper Smith." Mum smiles and understands.