JAMES BRAXTON As seen on BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It

Sunday, May 16, 2004
Beckham or Johnson? Only the Duke will know

The migration of goods from Cardiff to Bristol worked against us. It was always going to be a steep hill to climb, Cardiff’s Pumping Station and Jacobs antique centre had little to offer. Rob and Cat’s Meerschaum pipe, George II style mahogany and gilt wall mirror and Art Nouveau vase were greeted with little enthusiasm, resulting in a debt of £80. In moments of lose, I remind myself that the British viewer would soon tire of self-satisfied contestants grinning as they were handed another £100. Bargain Hunt gloriously embodies our self-depreciating nature, as after all, it would be embarrassing to profit from another’s money. I remember, a year ago, as I drove into work hearing Terry Wogan reading a listener’s letter relating how after despairing at another night of “I am a celebrity get me out of here” he switched to see what Auntie had to offer, and was perplexed to see David Dickinson congratulating 2 experts on loosing £500 in half an hour after buying a large wooden turkey and a rusty pedal car. Now that’s television, both the factual and the ridiculous.
I wasn’t looking forward to Thursday after having volunteered to be auctioneer at a celebrity charity golf day. It wasn’t the auctioneering that worried me it was the golf, having last played over a year ago, when it took me 3 swings to move off the 1st tee. I had, up until then, been lucky with my swing that had looked after me in spite of no practice. So I addressed the problem with a more considered approach, and played higher pitched woods and irons until my confidence grew, and it worked. The day was hosted by Jimmy Hill for SPARKS (sporting aiding medical research for kids) and sponsored by a trendy exhibition company called Indigo, I played with Con Cluskey one of the singing duo called The Bachelors and Toby and Matt from Royal Eastbourne Golf Club. I was amused to relate that there was some confusion who was the celebrity, as the photographer on the 1st tee asked me to shake hands with the others, I was sure Con was the man, and he thought I should assume the role, I stood down as 4 years on television compares unfavourably to 40 years on the stage. Much to my surprise I played alright, and mentioned, in my pre-auction amble that Terry Wogan says that the secret of golf is all in the buttocks, Con Cluskey says it’s not in the wrists, and I said an auction is all in the arms, so get them up and keep bidding. My advice was unnecessary, they bid like good’uns, taking a signed Martin Johnson shirt to £2,000, a signed David Beckham Real Madrid shirt to £1,300, and an oar blade signed by the Olympic four of Sir Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinset, James Cracknell and Tim Foster making £2,500, which was helped by having Tim Foster in the house.
Life is a circle, as I sat back in the Duke of Devonshire’s club house after enjoying a lovely round of golf on the Devonshire course I thought of the recently departed Duke, who was humorously self-deprecating about himself and his own place in the world, would have maybe enjoyed the fact that gentlemen of sport make more at auction.

Sunday, May 09, 2004
3 hours to anywhere

Be it Harrogate, Newcastle (by train) Exeter or Cardiff they are all 3 hours away. Two weeks ago I was in Cardiff home of the Millienimum stadium, It was the hardest Challenge to date, Portebello Road in London was a breeze compared to finding an antique/bargain at Cardiff's the Pumping Station and Jacobs Antique Centre. My fellow expert Kevin Jackson and I were partners in a themed "Guys and Dolls" programme, with amateur dramatics contestants. My director, the lovely Liz, who knows I can't sing, having filmed my cover version of 10cc's "I'm not in Love" at Kedleston last year. "But when you see a John waiting in the rain you know its for a doll", and when James wears a dogtooth jacket you know its for the Beeb!

Jacob's Antique Centre saw some action, as whilst filming the centre saw some unwelcomed attention from 3 likely lads keen to clear the basement, but were rather knievely unaware that the Welsh police force were on full strength, as Prince William was attending a match at the Millienimum stadium, only some 200 metres away, suddenly the centre was surrounded by 50 officiers and their bullet proof jackets. To the credit of the director she shouted at the researcher to keep the police there, but even the Beeb has its limits!
So purchases were made with a frisson of risk, much in the spirit of Guys and Dolls, I hope the same thrill remains for the auction, we have a pipe, landscape mirror and Art Nouveau vase, only some £350, is there a profit, only you can decide.
Screamed home for Sunday, after my sons Scottish reeling party, a great success as "Stripping the Willow" allows every boy and every girl a swing with all.

Saturday, May 01, 2004
Comments, why do we want them?

In every perceived assured person there is a nagging doubt, without the doubt, the same space is quickly grabbed by arrogance. Without Lalique, Marie and the many others, one might pursue a course that nobody had empathy with. I would always prefer criticism delivererd with well intent, rather than travel the lonely path with arrogance as my companion and guide. This must always be balanced with your own goals, never let your future ambitions be derailed by reaction to current events.
Will post more, this Bank Holiday weekend as so much to tell, but in the meantime I wanted to thank those who took the trouble to comment, congratulations, you are the joiners.

Sunday, April 18, 2004
Pass them Apples
Poor Posh, there can be no crueler blow than the swipe of snobbery, delivered by Rebecca Loos. Not only has she allegedly pinched Posh's man, but now she delivers a critic on her children's manners. Cruel as itis, we still have an insatiable desire for gossip, which I believe is healthy, as it undermines poposity, whose cousin must be political correctness.

Wednesday saw the repeat of the Flog It biscuit tin. I remember the valuation day, and sale day well. I drove to Reading early Sunday morning to be greeted by the debris of Reading festival, party goers clutching pints of milk, correcting chemical imbalances in attempt to last just one more day. I went to school just outside Reading and remember running the gauntlet of punks loitering outside Reading Station. Punks were a general hazard of any school child in the late 1970's , but through a celebration of aggression, they stirred up some creative juices, embodied by the Clash and Joy Division. Its ironic that such a generation are now effectively the public face of the media, names such as Jonathan Ross and Ruby Wax. Reading had 2 big businesses, one was Huntley and Palmers and the other was Metal Box. The collaboration was not too dissimelair to Royal Doulton and the Lambeth school of Art. Two neighbouring businesses finding mutual ground in art. Interestingly, Joy Division's double album came in a film reel like box, made by guess who, yes Metal Box. So to the Huntley Palmers novelty biscuit tin modellled as a Thames river launch which went on to make a staggering £1,400. This really seems to have caught the viewers imagination, and was more exciting to witness.

Saturday, April 10, 2004
Its all in the units

I read with interest a diary entry of last year, where I considered that in 17 years of marriage, my wife has put on 4 lbs, and I have added 4 stone. There is something spooky about the same numbers, but something rather depressing about the differant units.This disparity is now in hand, as yesterday I bought a new pair of Salomon cross trainers. A very necessary catalyst to the start of my journey to becoming a 13 stone racing snake.

Newark, the largest antiques fair in Europe, should hold some bargains. As it's the experts job to guide their contestants towards these in one hour, after the fair has been picked over for the last 12 hours. Here lies the root of the expression, " Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder."As hundreds pass and reject goods, they are followed by whose who fall upon these rejects, and prize them as treasures.

Nothing could quite prepare me for my first contestants. We shopped with Penny, in the pram, £200 and 3 very differant opinions on what might make a profit. DD was the best Charlie Chaplin impersonata I have seen, here she is with the accordian and Tim.

Newark took us through the full range of weathers; rain, hale, biting wind and glorious sunshine, and as I sat at dinner I couldn't workout whether I was weather beaten or sunburnt. The best item I bought at the fair was a silver collared green and blue onyx ball shaped match strike. I would have passed it, had it had that 1970's combo of green and brown veining as used on ghastly telephones and lampstands that are the stable of general auctions up and down the country. At approximately £55 I believe it was cheap. The stars of the fair were Serina and Charlotte, Serina was a passionate bargain hunter and a keen auction goer. I really hope that they get a grand slam gavel, and with the shooting stick, smokers cabinet and silver coffee spoons, they stand a good chance. I leave you with Thomas, Tim and I.

Friday, April 09, 2004
25TH March 2004
I'm writing this diary in room 217, Hotel Barcelona, Exeter, it's a fabulous room with a fireplace opposing my bed, to my right a study, and to my left a bathroom.

Lovely supper sat next to Kate and Judy, my duck was offered as either bloody, pink or cooked through, for a man who normally has aromatic Peking duck with plum sauce, the bloody would be too extreme, and the cooked through underdone. It was very good. A good bloody Mary, with both the addition of port and sherry, was good, but just too spicy. Am writing this diary with a still Exeter below viewed from my eerie with Pavarotti on the CD player.

I look forward, with a tinge of anticipation, to tomorrow's events, profit or loss. My weakness, being the swap item, a budgerigar egg cup at £75, a bargain, not!

Back to the day job, sale week started with a drinks party in Royal Tunbridge Wells. You can divide friends into joiners and friends. The joiners are the reliable stalwarts, who bring a smile and a supportive word. In the future, I will try to fulfill this roll, for it's always the dreaded party that's the best. Regrettably, as with all evolving mailing lists, I have managed to gather the bizarre as well as the good. As I greeted one such person, he replied "What are you doing here?" Modesty didn't allow me to say I had owned Bracketts for 7 years. He was immediatly recognizableable as the man who had sat infront of the rostrum for the last BBC Children In Need auction, it goes without saying that he didn't raise a finger to bid, but only to offer up an empty glass, for another refill!

Thursday, April 08, 2004
I am back, with much to report
The live Bargain Hunt week was pressured with expectation, I shouldn't have been surprised how competitive professional sportsman are after the were 20 yards in front on our shopping trip to Shepton Mallet. My 2 celebrity Bargain Hunters were the BBC rugby commentators Jonathan Davies and Jeremy Guscott. They were both keen not only to make profits but also to win. We achieved the profits, but not the win, that was whipped by Kate Alcock, but the boys were pleased with their Grand Slam Gavels. Here they are with the Six Nations cup, modelled with 15 sides to represent the number of players on each team. There was lots of teasing between the 4, and whilst Tim Wonnacott was interviewing Jill Douglas and Craig Doyle, Jonathan and Jeremy were asking, what team had Craig played for? The budgie egg cup made a profit! More later.