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Some years ago, when the art of feng shui was the phrase on every fashionista’s lips, I remember some wag telling me that “feng shui is simply the art of tidying up”. I couldn’t help but agree but, given that a friend was, at the time, busy feng shuiing my incredibly untidy bedroom, I decided to, for once, keep my mouth shut and let her get on with it! I mention this because we currently seem to be in the grips of a new cultural passion which, like feng shui, might be seen to be not so much a new trend but a new, fashionable name for an old, less glamorous activity. I refer to our current obsession for all things vintage (although I think it should read Vintage with a capital in recognition of the hugeness of our obsession) and the awe-inspiring way that this simple word has

with Julie Teckman

turned the humble second(or third) hand into something so much more acceptable, even desirable.

Don’t believe me? Are you foaming at the mouth at the mere idea that those lovely vintage items you practically fought for at the vintage fayre (never ‘fair’) you queued to get into last weekend might simply be someone else’s, albeit old, stuff they didn’t want? Well, let’s examine the evidence.

First, there is no diff erence in content between the really old-style jumble sale, or the newer incarnation of the car boot sale and a Vintage Fayre apart from shed-loads of bunting, women dressed in nice frocks and stallholders who seem to know the value of everything. T e true diff erence is in the price of the stuff you would have turned your nose up at a jumble sale but gush over once it has a cute handwritten (in pencil for authenticity) price tag. T at cup and saucer that you’d baulk over paying £2.50 for in a charity shop, will now seem a bargain at £5 from a Vintage Sale simply because the design reminds you of one you think you saw in a book about Jane Austin, and the cardigan that your granny gave to the local girl guides jumble sale will make you want to use your fi sts on anyone trying to beat you to buying it when it turns up, priced at fi fteen quid on a stall covered in fl oral tablecloths and pot pourri.

Yes, the word ‘vintage’ is a powerful one. If you want to sell your old rubbish on eBay, simply add ‘vintage’ to the description and you’ll offl oad it more quickly and for a

higher price than if you simply describe it as something you bought by mistake from Matalan three years ago, and, since the fashion world declared that anything out of season is offi cially vintage, the world’s your oyster. Genius! Yes, there’s a lot of money to be made out of vintage and the hysteria over the Queen’s Jubilee this summer has helped to turn it from a rather badly-kept secret of the hip and trendy to a bunting-strewn hobby that can be enjoyed by all. Can’t aff ord a new three-piece suite? No problem, buy an old tatty one and call it Shabby Chic. Fed up with all the clutter in your house? Easy solution, sell it all as vintage homeware and stock up with a load more.

Now it may seem from all of the above that I have fi nally joined the ranks of the cynical and sensible, misunderstanding completely the real joy of transporting oneself back to a time before celebrity culture and high street stores took the individuality out of how we live, but that isn’t the case. I’m as much of a sucker for vintage as the next gal who just happens to be stuck in a timewarp. I’m just as susceptible to a plate of homebaked cupcakes served on bone china with tea rose patterns by a lovely young thing who looks like she stepped out of a 1950s Woman and Home magazine (so long as you don’t ask me to actually bake the cupcakes myself) and if our current obsession is linked to the state of the modern world and the unpredictability of modern life, well, so what? I’d rather be ignoring the doom and gloom on a Lloyd Loom chair at a vintage picnic than trying to work out where in the world it will be safe to travel on my package tour holiday.

In fact, I’m so excited about the Vintage Festival coming to Northamptonshire I could burst. I get goosebumps whenever a new vintage clothes shop opens, and I completely endorse the ‘up yours’ way that buying second hand stuff off ers a proper alternative to our ‘throw-away’ society. So long live Vintage (or at least long enough for me to sell the rubbish that’s piled up around my house), just don’t ask me to buy any more bunting …


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