Mad Dealers #8
In the 80s in
Paris one did not meet many dealers or people in
the trade who braved crossing the channel. Paula
was an eccentric exception!
A mousy Englishwoman with a plum in her throat,
Paula was a ceramist who repaired museum quality
fine ceramics. Her connection with Paris was her
arty twenty something daughter who lived in the
Marais close to the Jewish Rue de Rosier around
the corner from Goldenberg, the famous kosher
Paula was 'invisible' wearing a pale blue twinset
probably left over from the 60s, Amami wavy short
light brown hair and the inevitable string of
Majorcan double pearls. Like a mouse, she would
scurry around Marche Vanves on a Saturday and
Clignancourt on a Sunday looking for china or
pieces of ceramics she would take back to London
to resell or use for repairing her valuable
At some stage we had lunch in the 4th in a local
bistro where I noticed Paula was 'careful' with
her Francs! However, we promised to meet Chez
Elle in the wrong end of trendy Chelsea near
Worlds End off the famous Kings Road although the
only thing we had in common was that we were both
British and in the same trade.
Her abode could have been nice but astonishly it
was a mere filthy hovel due to her kiln
blackening her kitchen ceiling and walls which
were thick with cooking splattered fat and grease
on all the working surfaces from cooking. The
word cleaning was unheard of let alone dusting.
She and Quentin Crisp could have been soul mates!
Her living room, with nowhere to sit, was dark
with a central dim low wattage naked light bulb
revealing a low large circular table that took up
most of the living space. In fact one
walked into the lounge with a low polystyrene
ceiling as there was no hall in a 70s conversion
of what could have been a smart residence. I
suppose the walls would have been once upon a
time white but with the grime from the kiln, they
were decidedly grey!
Her table housed pieces of Sevres ceramics neatly
positioned I suppose for her repair work. When a
piece was moved or picked up, there was a visible
white shape left behind on the table! But how
could she see what she was doing even though she
worked with a powerful magnifier? Mon Dieu!!
Fortunately I was only invited for a cuppa served
in a posh vintage Limoges teacup without a saucer
but unfortunately like refugees sitting on
upturned wooden Spanish orange crates. Not even a
biscuit offered at tea time. Le 4 o'clock! I
recall there was a problem to reach her as her
phone was upstairs next to her bed and no
extension downstairs as she didn't want any
distractions while she was repairing fine pieces
Needless to say I only visited her once. I
sneezed throughout my depressing visitation but I
never forgot the grim, grey grime!
on the train coming back from Spitalfields market
in London on 13.12.17.
Read on BHCR 15.11.17.