Antiques Roadshow

mumblings

I found out today that the England vs. AnotherTeam match is going to be screened on TV at 7pm. Hooray, I thought. That means that we’ll have a blissfully quiet neighbourhood for at least 90 minutes on Sunday evening. Then I realised that this meant that Antiques Roadshow would be postponed. Boo. Those two thoughts couldn’t mark me out as more middle-aged and middle-class if I tried. However, as I have absolutely no interest in antiques, my love for Antiques Roadshow is somewhat baffling.

I think it has something to do with being scheduled early on Sunday evening. It’s that time of the weekend when I start to feel the onset of a certain degree of gloom at the prospect of the beginning of another working week. I do (generally) enjoy my job, but like most worthwhile things, it is hard and the start of the week always involves a certain amount of painful inertia. Watching something light and undemanding is a pleasant way of temporarily staving off that ‘back to work’ feeling. I suspect that if Antiques Roadshow was shown on another day, I wouldn’t bother watching it.

The other thing that I enjoy about it is that you can play along and pretend to be an expert. Mr. Bsag and I usually compete to see who gets closer to the valuation before the expert declares it. I’m often way out, but he is uncannily accurate. It’s fun to try to pick up clues in the expert’s preamble to guess at a valuation, and to try to figure out what makes some items (even really hideous things) particularly valuable. I also enjoy trying to guess whether the owner is pleased or secretly disappointed with the valuation. Sometimes that’s obvious (especially when they have spent a fortune on an item that turns out to be a fake), but at other times they hide it well. Then you can try to guess whether they will immediately go out and try to sell it. I reckon that the interval between hearing the valuation and the owner saying, “Of course, we’d never sell it, it’s a family heirloom” is directly proportional to the probability that they will sell. Sometimes you can see them looking for the exit and wondering where the nearest auction house or antiques dealer might be.

I’ve watched the show for several years on and off, but I’ve never yet been tempted to start collecting antiques. I think if I was ever tempted, it would be to collect Japanese netsuke. They are very small (and therefore don’t require much storage space), interestingly individual, and often show beautiful craftsmanship and detail. I also like the fact that they were functional items, used to hang a kind of external pocket from the sash at a man’s waist. However, I certainly don’t have the money to collect them, so I’ll just carrying on enjoying them vicariously through Antiques Roadshow. That is, when the football (and all the other sport) is over and the schedules are back to normal.

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