Skip to main content

Stay at home. Watch Bargain Hunt

Submitted by Larry Lockdown on 12 April 2020

One positive thing I've noticed about the lock-down is the dog poo. Or should I say, the lack of it. Since we’ve all being squirrelled away at home, we aren't getting a chance to step in any.    

Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld, suggested last week that anyone going out and breaking the rules is not only selfish and inconsiderate but possibly a bit stupid. Why else, he argued, would anyone pass up the opportunity to lounge around watching boxed sets? 

So, I thought I'd do my bit for the community and go back to watching Bargain Hunt..

Got the T-shirt

I suspect for most people, it's one of those programmes they’ve heard of but don’t recall actively watching. Typically it's on with the sound down in a hospital waiting room, for example. I actually got into “BH”, as fans call it, when I was on chemo., which perhaps has some similarities to being in isolation.

What I found irksome, were the episodes shot in Portobello Road market, a street known for its high-end retail outlets with equally high-end prices. Who in their right mind goes there in search of bargains, I thought. And why is the license fee being used to send BH there? 

But chemotherapy can have that effect- making trivial matters seem disproportionately irritating.  

Going back to BH this week, I’d assumed, would be much like picking up on the Archers or EastEnders. Nothing would really have changed. Susan Carter would still be gossiping and Sharon would still have a pained expression. But, it seems, things have changed. For starters, there's been a killing in the Archers. I won't say more, in case you're planning to download some podcasts, suffice it to say a controlling husband was making his wife do everything, so she reached the end of her tether.  These newer plots seem so unlikely, don't they? 

Sharon's expression
The Archers trial

Meanwhile on Bargain Hunt, it seems they've scrapped the bit in the middle where Tim visited a stately home, presumably realising we weren't remotely interested in the paintings and just wanted to see the auction. Come to think of it, they’ve scrapped Tim too. I had warmed to his asides to camera, reminiscent of The Fast Show’s Jazz Club.

I've started arranging my work meetings around BH. There was a high spot this past week actually.  The expert was, as usual, with seconds to spare, scrambling to find a "bonus buy".  This is usually the item responsible for the most eye-watering loss of the day. Wednesday seemed to be heading that way too, I thought, as I let the kettle drown out the sound. He'd just done a last-gasp deal on a grubby looking urn for about £30, so I turned away.

Imagine my incredulity though, when the gavel fell on this 'thing'. Auctioneers seem to call potentially valuable items “things”, to hint at greatness without over committing. I watched in awe as the "thing" went for £400.   

The glance to camera

I should stress that such excitement is rare, and your threshold of thrills may be higher than mine.

Maybe music is what tickles your trigger.  If so, I can recommend one specific episode of Antiques Roadshow.

Part of me thinks the Beeb is a little tactless showing us crowds of people enjoying days out in the countryside right now, but that aside, recently a guy turned up with a fret-less guitar. On first glance, about as much use as the string-less piano on Face the Music or, as my friend Martin would say, a turd in a swimming pool. As unplayable as it might have seemed, this one had what's called provenance. Its current owner had once worked with George Harrison.

George had reportedly said to him, to the effect "alright there ‘H’? I don't like this Bartell's guitar pal. Tell you wha' - if you can play i' you can have i‘".  Harry tactfully asked if George was sure, then quick-wittedly played some of My Sweet Lord. (A George Harrison tune featuring three sliding chords).  Having carried that off, he smartly did likewise with the guitar.

The fretless guitar

The story goes that it then lay unused for 30 years until Fiona Bruce was in town. So, at our sun-drenched venue, the expert waxed lyrical about the provenance. It had, it transpires, featured prominently on a tour with Ravi Shankar, perhaps after all quite suited to the Indian style, was once owned by John Lennon and it was said that Jimi Hendrix had a soft spot for fretless.

To gasps from those onlookers, many of whom can generally only nod wisely because they can't hear a word, and its owner, the expert announced his predicted value: £400,000. 

If you want to see and hear the true story for yourself, to save you the time of watching hours of paintings and medals, it featured on March 1st 2020. 

George Harrison with fretless guitar (circled)

I'm off to the garage to de-fret my classical

Village of the unfretted

Disclaimer: Some of the names and incidents described are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner