A few weeks ago, I left my blog-readers with a nail-biter of a cliff-hanger: What unlikely and inappropriate object would JP end up dragging home from the hotel auction in Switzerland? A solid silver spittoon? An elephant -foot umbrella holder? A case of slightly-used pillow mints?
The truth , my friends, is somewhat stranger, and probably somewhat more expensive…
When we walked in the door of the huge old hotel, it didn’t occur to me that we would be buying anything. I was there strictly to gawk, and believe me, there was plenty to gawk at. As I mentioned in my previous post about the Royal Savoy, the place underwent a series of « unfortunate events » in the form of redecoration frenzies. One of the latest and most disastrous of these resulted in the place having a large stock of macramé wall hangings and wall-clocks made of olive-green pottery.
Yes, the 1970’s had struck hard and lethally at the old hotel.
Fortunately, they hadn’t gone completely mad and gotten rid of all the fine old antiques, but it made for some pretty odd juxtapositions- fine old 19th century landscapes hung beside terrible abstract paintings from the early 70’s, brown vinyl « leather » chairs beside a beautiful 17th century marqueterie bed.
There was plenty to gawk and the place was packed with people poking into every corner of the place, hunting for goodies. Some of them seemed obviously professional- restaurant and hotel owners hoping to snap up some useful equipment and furnishings. Some were obviously wealthy people looking for marqueterie beds and the like. Some of the latter group had me thinking: after you have been pumped full of huge amounts Botox and the Clostridium bacilum DNA in you starts to outnumber the human DNA, are you still, technically, a Homo sapien? Just asking…
Also, apparently a lot of people didn’t get the memo that excessive tanning is, like, really bad for you.
Anyway, we wandered around the first floor, admiring the fine silver and china, recoiling from the wads of knotted rope and finally went into the main dining room. This was the room that held the worst of the macramé, pottery and scribbly, depressing paintings. But looking up at the ceiling, things got rather better. There were nine large, rather beautiful crystal chandeliers.
JP liked them.
He liked them a lot.
He wrote down the lot number for one of them. (It’s the one at the front in the photo.)
He asked me what I thought.
a. It’s pretty,
b. It would look strange in a wooden chalet-style room
c. You wouldn’t get it anyway. There will be tons of bidders and the price will go too high..
After this, I didn’t really give it another thought.
My lovely pal Monica (who is also much smarter than me) spoke to me about it as we went upstairs and went through the rooms.
« You know Jean-Pierre really wants to bid on that chandelier, right? »
« He can write in a bid if he likes. I’m sure he’ll never get it. There’s too many people here- people with way more money than we have. »
« Are you sure? » She didn’t look convinced.
« Yes, I’m sure! » I said confidently « Otherwise I’d have to stop him from bidding, because we really don’t need a huge, expensive chandelier. »
The starting price on the thing was 600 Swiss Francs.
My plan for lighting our new room involved going to a hardware store and paying less than 100 euros for something. My idea was not to be elegant. What I had in mind was this: to not be sitting around in the dark and to not have an empty bank account.
But, of course, my simple, cheap plan was not to be.
To be continued....