A Word In Your Ear - November 3, 2011

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Ever wanted to delve into the world of antiques but when push comes to shove you struggle to pick the Chippendale from the chipboard?

Nay worries, help is at hand.

If, like me, the chance of taking a mortgage break to undertake a four-year course in sideboard recognition is pretty slim then you have to go with what you know.

That’s right, tat. Not the kind of tat my father-in law King Tat is into, that being of the Taiwanese cigarette lighter shaped like the Bismarck.

I mean proper man’s tat – mantiques if you will.

I’ve recently become hooked on American Pickers, a TV show where the hosts – Iowa double act Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz – have taken the fine art of antiquing to the average Joe’s level.

As one critic so truthfully put: “They have organically cultivated an antiques show that men who don’t eat quiche will actually sit down and watch.”

They travel America going through garages and barns unearthing salvageable objects for resale, such as old motorcycles, advertising signs and any of a host of other curious contraptions from another era. They use such phrases as “freestyle” (that’s when they simply tour streets like a pair of wandering tinkers) to “the kicker is... this junk works.”

This show was made for me. I’ve grown to acknowledge, while I may once have hankered of becoming a star of doom laden electro pop in my youth, it’s time to realise I actually like quite boring things.

I like to potter and have, by pure accident, collected a large pile of junk in my garage which probably has no use in the modern world.

Like my father before me, I keep my nails and screws in old baby milk tins, but this is more than DIY tit bits.

I have a half-built Airfix model of the Titanic, a collection of musical instruments and amps, a Wirral Borough Council ‘No Ball Games’ sign (removed by me and my mate Action Jim when we were teens because we were horrified the council had banned kids from playing football in the street) as well as the ‘Jon Rhodes is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor’ sign I had above the door of the pub I once ran.

There are fan motors, a busted remote control plane, signed Super Furry Animals 12in records, boxes of old board games – including the legendary Magic Robot – and, ah yes, a Union Jack that was supposed to have been refashioned into a Geri Halliwell-style dress for another mate Author Dave (really don’t ask, we drank a lot in the 1990s).

I guess I’m somewhat of a mini hoarder, a UK Picker if you will.

Some will see my stash as car boot fodder, but I say ‘what’s the rush’, it may come in handy.

My son, like I did at his age, has started to discover a dad’s garage is a magical Aladdin’s Cave.

The Put Upon Wife is exasperated, but the kicker is this junk works. Well it does for me anyhow and I ain’t ready to change just yet. Happy Picking ya’ll.