AMONGST her many interests my wife was fond of waging war on tat - anything she dismissed, with no real pretence at affection, as dust-collectors.
I, on the other hand, was irretrievably fond of impulse-bought tat, which by and large ended up being stored in a large box kept for that purpose in the double garage.
"Where are you planning to put that?" she would ask, eyeing up the latest orphaned, sorry-looking little item I had brought home. She could italicise her suspicion better than anyone else I have ever known.
I would look around the house, hoping to find somewhere I could put the trio of Bonnie Scotland fridge magnets I had inexplicably found so tempting just an hour or two earlier, or the second-hand dartboard (minus any darts) that had seemed to be such a good bargain when I chanced upon it at the Barras.
In the end - t'was always thus - I would admit defeat rather than put up even a perfunctory argument. I would open the garage door, locate the tat box, and throw it in.
I mention this only because there was an arresting magazine profile the other day of Steve Smith. You may not have heard of him but you have almost certainly heard of the store he founded. Heck, you may even have shopped in it from time to time.
The store is called Poundland. When Smith sold it for £50 million, he bought a splendid 13-bedroom mansion, which he and his wife remodelled at vast expense.
But what caught my eye was the magnificent collection of dust-collectors that fills many of the rooms. Superior dust-collectors, maybe, given his wealth, but still, when all is said and done, things that attract and harbour dust. I gripped the page tightly as I read of these bargain impulse-buys. My heart cracked in envy.
Giant pond statues of angels and frogs. A waxwork of Long John Silver. Faux Victorian lamps lining the driveway. Air-fresheners in plug sockets. Plastic flowers. Royal Doulton figurines. Tons of stuff bought from charity auctions or car-boot sales. Imitation little Tudor objects. Fake oil paintings. One room has 11 (11!) chandeliers and a juxebox.
Mr Smith, it emerges, is still driven by the thought of finding bargains. Nothing wrong with that. Each to his own, and so on. My abiding thought now is whether he might be interested in buying my own store of dust-collectors. That set of Bonnie Scotland magnets? One careful owner: a fiver to you, squire.
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