Every time I look at the horrified expression on this red haired ladies face I laugh out loud. The poor darling looks mortified and no wonder for isn’t it just like a man to not to think of editing out a photograph so clearly not fit for human consumption??
This is an image taken from the front cover of John Bull magazine, (March 7th, 1959) and is just one of the 48 charming representations of British life in the fifties I procured in what can only be described as a scrap in the Animal Rescue Book Shop last week.
Now treasure hunting in this particular shop is always an experience, if not because of the quite foul smell, then because it is staffed by quite the oddest assortment of animal lovers you have ever met: on this occasion a lovely Chinese man with a green cardigan and charming buck toothed smile, accompanied by a gentle fuzzy haired giant of a man who both rocked back and forth constantly and talked ten to the dozen. Neither could do enough for their motley crew of customers (me) and I swear better customer service could not be found in the whole of Lancashire. But I digress…
So there I was, skimming the shelves as fast as possible, (because the shop smells so very badly my Mum won’t come in and was hovering chilled to the bone in the doorway), and exclaiming in glee when I happened across a frankly over-priced ode to Beauty, circa 1956, complete with the delights of the banana diet and the frankly ubiquitous recommendation of laxatives for a healthier happier digestive system.
Feeling all was well with the universe, I hurried to the counter, handed the book to the rocking man and noticed out of the corner of my eye another man shifting through a tower of vintage magazines. I looked at him and he looked at me.
“OOOoooh” he said, “someone else who knows a bargain when she see’s one. John Bull’s love. I only want the ebay saleable ones, you can have the rest…“
Having established that this lovely collection of John Bull magazines were to be sold individually for 40p each or for a sum to be agreed for the lot, I offered £10.00 and after much debate amongst themselves, and the possibility of a phone-call to the powers that be discussed, the Chinese man looked in a worried fashion at his calculator and said £12.00 and I didn’t feel like arguing because he was so very, very nice, and said yes and that is when the trouble began.
The Ebay seller had chosen three copies, and the other 68 were for me. The attending staff were troubling themselves for a carrier bag, when up shuffled a man in an anorak, hood pulled up and dark jazzy sunglasses quite unnecessary on such a dull day, apparently glued to his face. He listened to me waxing enthusiastically about my exciting hoard and all of a sudden made a grab for a handful of magazines.
Put them down Chris, said the man behind the counter, who was obviously used to Chris making unforeseen literary heists on giddy customers.
No, said Chris, I’m having them.
This lady has already bought them. Put them down Chris!
No, said Chris, shoving them inside his anorak.
Now at this moment I was prepared to hand over my twelve pound regardless and make a hasty exit, when to my utter horror, naughty Chris made a second lunge at my stash and picked up another handful, this time grabbing one of the best covers amongst them, (A rather horrified young lady in glorious fifties underwear, hiding behind the curtain, while a whistling window cleaner got to work).
The poor befuddled staff looked mortified and helpless and kind of hopeless, so it was clearly up to me to take charge of the matter, but grappling with Chris who was clearly madder than a box of frogs wasn’t an option, and screaming blue murder might have had the delicate staff in tears, so offering ten pound for my depleted pile of magazines and beating a sharp retreat was my only option. So that is what I did, I paid for the fifty magazines remaining, told them I would be back later to pick them up and left them to deal with Chris, who was now sneaking the pointy bra-ed lady on the cover of the issue I would have sold my granny for, in and out of his anorak and sneaking furtive glances at it as if he was in Soho.
And all’s well that ends bonkers. Except that wasn’t the end of it. When I went back the highly excited man behind the counter told me he had been able to sort Chris out and had managed to get all the magazines back and I congratulated him with all the delirious glee such a difficult feat deserved and lugged my load home where upon a quick count of the mags in the bag revealed that they now numbered just 48.
It is a mystery worthy of Enid Blyton, but not one I care to dwell on, so delighted am I with those that did indeed make it home to chez Brocante… images which I’m sure you will thank me for once I get the tired old wheels of my scanner into motion.