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

Saturday, March 29, 2003
Ab Fab still on top

Last night Iconducted a charity auction in aid of BECKS at Lingfield Notre Dame school. This is a new charity formed after the death of Becky Holmes, who at 16, died of meningitis whilst taking her mock GSCE exams. My hosts Andrew and Julie appraised me of the lots, including a remarkable numbered print of the racing driver John Surtees, whose children attended the same school. The Surtees signed print sold for £680, a great price, compared to another signed sporting item, a Harlequin rugby shirt that made £150.

My evening could have been marred by an unfortunate presumption that the wine on the table was to be shared. As I reached and poured myself a glass of Australian Chardonnay, I thought bettter of it, and whilst apologising to my neighbour replaced the bottle. She rather mean spiritedly brushed aside my apology, and it was only after her freind's instance, that I poured myself half-a-glass. Shortly afterwards, the same mean spirited neighbour, made a song-and-dance over her vegitarian meal, even spurning the roast potatoes. Surely, over-indulgence in roast potatoes must be a vegitarian's perk.

The auction raised £11,500 from 28 lots. The top 2 lots being; a house in France for 13 people to be taken outside Summer and Easter holidays, so would suit retired couple, and for 4 people to be on set whilst filming "Absolutely Fabulous", starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, and then to meet and mingle with the stars off camera. These 2 lots made £820 each, whilst 2 tickets for Royal Chelsea Flower show in London made a surprising £420.

Toll too far to Wales

Left Tunbridge Wells, late as usual, bound for Newport in South Wales. Managed to cheat congestion on the M25 via the Bracknell wiggle from M3 to M4, further demonstrating that 2 lanes somehow seem more able than 4. I had a pound in readiness to cross the Severn toll bridge, having learnt from numerous Dartford crossings, but was wrong-footed by a the toll rate sign stating £4.50. I survived the desparate scramble into the glove box for more loose change while maintaining a respectful 70mph. I was comforted and bemused to find out that you pay only to enter Wales, and not to exit. I am sure they could get a higher toll if they charged people to leave!

Our hotel, Kings Hotel, was at the head of one of the longest pedestrianised town centres, that I have had the misfortune to seek a Boots in. My 1st room on the 4th floor was peculiar for having a shower sited only 2 foot above the bath owing to a sloping room. But being British I didn't request another room, but had another thrust upon me, by the lovely Manageress, Dawn. The staff at the Hotel were lovely, but I did feel that Dawn and Heidi were like the crew of a sinking ship, charming and smiling whilst all around was crumbling. Found Phillip in Ye Old Meringue a 15th century building built for a tax collector now a pub, and by quirk of history now bunched in a modern town centre. We moved on whilst we had the goodwill of our fellow drinkers, and taxied over the river to an unbelievable Indian restaurant. We entered through a heavily carved red door into a jungle interior. The walls were plastered in high relief and then garishly painted with Indian allegorical figures in a jungle interior. Phillip kept on being bitten by a snake to his left shoulder! The food was excellent but it still should have been closed on aesthetic grounds!