Tuesday 28th January 6.12 am
While art thieves ran off with masterpieces, looters looted and seemingly regular folk hugged their duvets to their chests before facing another day at the office, I was on the 6.12 am train from Waterloo to Sunbury Antiques Market.
This wasn’t the first time I’d made the journey to the Mecca of markets. The last time I’d arrived at the same ungodly hour to find I was the only soul in the place with not a dog in sight never mind a market stall. After wandering around with trolley in toe – up to the motorway and back twice – I eventually found another human being who worked at the racecourse. He very kindly told me I’d got the day wrong and also let me use the staff loos which was lucky cause there wasn’t another train back to London until around 9 am.
But still, my curiosity unperturbed, I ventured forth again. This time there were lots of people on the train – a good sign – and the car park at Kempton Park Station was packed. I followed the crowd towards the racecourse. One woman sporting hiking boots, waterproofs and a fedora raced ahead of us all. She looked like a professional modern day treasure hunter so I decided to follow her but short of breaking into a sprint I couldn’t keep up and just managed to make out the edge of her fedora as it vanished through a door in the distance.
It was still dark outside as I reached the main building but inside was a colourful melting pot of porcelain, glass, ceramics, books, paintings, taxidermy, clothes and all manner of bric-a-brac. The buzz of chatting, rummaging and bargaining filled the air. I felt strangely overwhelmed. At most I’d come to find my ‘needle-in-the-haystack’ (one of my fantasizes is buying a painting for a couple of quid and selling it for a couple of million); or, at the very least, to pick up booty to sell on eBay. But where to start?
Outside, people were still unloading their cars and vans or examining goods with torches. My eye landed on a cut glass decanter with a sterling silver top – asking price £50, then an old atlas globe, again £50.
I kept going. On my left a table-load of retro desk lamps from the 60s and 70s, on my right a stuffed aardvark that I reached out and touched – UCK.
A clothes stall and a painting stall. “That one’s £400,” I heard the lady say to an interested punter. Sacks of old leather and snake-skin bags, crystals and a fish in a glass box. Framed Marilyn Monroe posters. Footstools made from tribal rugs and several people gleefully carrying off vintage white enamel milk jugs – all very shabby chic. Weird looking dolls and an old tin poster on electric shock treatment. I’ve lost my gloves again so my hands were freezing but the never-ending array of THINGS kept my attention more than the cold.
After a good hour of rummaging, the cold finally got the better of me so I headed off to the café and tucked into a black coffee and a packaged artificial cinnamon roll. A group of friends sat at the same table talking about their purchases and showing them off to each other. I’d made one purchase – a couple of rolls of tape covered in the word ‘fragile’ for when I’m packing all the paintings and eBay items – the ones I’m going to make my millions from – when I find them that is.
Was it the curse of the aardvark or was I just not in a buying mood? Once again, I left Sunbury Antiques Market pretty much empty handed. Still, I’m sure there’s something there for me and will defo go again. If I can bribe someone to get up early enough, I think I’ll go with a friend next time. Anyway the next one is on Tuesday 11th Feb, but you better check the website just in case I have that wrong.