• Debra Palmen

Are You Ready To Rumble?

It’s been business as usual on the antiques front since we closed the pop-up shop. We’re selling lots of things at the beautiful Peregian Beach market and Collectorama, the biggest antiques fair in Queensland is coming up on 3 June. We always do well at Collectorama.

I’ve been refurbishing some nice pieces of furniture, which I will offer soon, and they’re looking good. I’ll put pictures on Facebook when they’re done, for your inspection. Yes, we’re called French & Vintage on Facebook as well, just in case you aren’t following us there.

And I've unearthed a number of old French crystal strands from vintage chandeliers, which you can see here. I'll pop them onto Facebook as well. They date from the 1940s and at $3 each they should sell quickly enough.

Plus I've the last of the current batch of reproduction images ready to offer, and there are some very nice travel posters among them. They'll go onto our reproduction images page on this website. Qantas did some attractive advertisements back in the day.

I should have been more disciplined about writing Little Beasties & How to Collect Them than I have been lately, but I’ll knuckle down soon. A number of people have told me they’re waiting for it – thanks guys! – so I shall get it done. Right now I'm working on the Fairies chapter. When I started my research I was imagining those lovely Flower Fairies, but actually they can be vicious little tykes.

Meanwhile, Travel & Shop The World For Free has now been accepted by four bookshops and two antiques shops. Two more bookshops are reviewing it with a view to stocking it, plus a French homewares shop. So far every shop I’ve offered the book to has stocked it, so that’s a relief. I’ll be moving on to the giant bookshop chains soon and then things will get really tough.

Conventional wisdom says you can’t get a self-published book on to any bookshop shelf at all, but my own experience shows that’s clearly not true. So we’ll see what happens next. I can only try and what’s the worst that can happen? Rejection isn’t something to look forward to, but I’ve been repeatedly told by publishing industry professionals that if I can’t handle rejection I shouldn’t be writing books that I expect to sell. It’s all very well to acknowledge that on a conceptual level, but I expect I’ll be seriously put out by actual rejection when it comes.

Meanwhile, I’m close to finishing a children’s book that I might publish in electronic form to begin with, print publishing being the palaver that it is. But if it’s well received perhaps I’ll publish it in print as well. As with all the books I’m working on or have planned, I think it will look better in print rather than as an eBook, but we’ll see. It’s a reworking of the legend of George & The Dragon, where Medieval meets 21st Century. And one of the incidental characters is Sweaty Sanchez, the Mad Masked Mexican star of Pro-Melee-Mania. Trust me, it makes sense when you read it. Well it does in my mind.

So it was a great research opportunity to fully flesh out Sweaty Sanchez when Doug and I were invited to attend a night of pro-wrestling. We’d spent the morning being all civilized, visiting an antiques fair, but then it was time to bring out the Inner Bogan and flannel up. Kimmi D (aka The Flash), the event photographer, offered us free ring-side tickets so it was a chance to try something new, plus I kidded myself it was good book research. And do you know, it was surprisingly entertaining.

I spent the evening sitting with Mick Blood, lead singer from the 1980s psychedelic punk rock group Lime Spiders. The group disbanded in 1999 but is reforming for a concert in Spain later this year. Mick is currently writing his memoirs (the bits he can remember) and between bouts we discussed the pleasures and frustrations of the writing process. He said he was motivated to write the book to set the record straight after all the rubbish that’s been written about him and the band on Wikipedia. I told him I aspire to have rubbish written about me on Wikipedia, but apparently it’s not as much fun being infamous as you might think.

As for the wrestling, yes it’s mostly pretend. But from the perspective of the front row I can tell you that some hits were full-on, and when they throw each other onto the canvas they do it with a God-Almighty crash. And when they physically dive through the ropes on to each other to take the fight out onto the concrete floor rather than the ring, that’s got to hurt. The resident mad masked wrestler (not nearly as podgy as Sweaty Sanchez) literally landed on my feet during one encounter. He laid there for a little while, moaning quietly. Would you like a hand? I asked him. Thanks, he groaned, but I’ll be right. Then he sprang up and was back into it. Lost the bout, though. I hope one of my feet rupturing one of his kidneys didn’t contribute to that.

Despite my mocking distain before we arrived, I have to admit there’s quite a lot of athletic ability involved. I expect it’s quite a skill to stagger convincingly, clutching your eye/throat/back/knee/all of the above, and make it look like you’ve been seriously hurt while actually avoiding any injury. Not that some of the crowd would support me in this assertion.

It was clear that many in the audience had embraced the whole experience and didn’t believe what they were seeing was staged. They shrieked abuse at the designated Bad Guys, and the Bad Guys hurled insults back. At times things got heated, with Security stepping in to deal with one over-excited spectator.

Sometimes the referees feigned being distracted by someone in the crowd (usually a boobie girl) which enabled the Bad Guys to cheat outrageously against the noble Good Guys, and that would send the crowd into a total frenzy. Watching the crowd and listening to their mass chants, screamed insults or shouted admiration was almost as entertaining as watching the boys (and girls) in action.

The winner of the heavy-weight bout was dressed as a Goth, with thick white face makeup and black eyeliner. His name was Thirteen. The winner of the everyone-else bouts was a clean cut young fellow called Ricki. No stage name, no makeup, no shenanigans – he was one of the designated Good Guys and to tell the truth he was a bit boring compared to everyone else. Although he had a major fan sitting right behind us, pushing 70 if she was a day. Whenever he appeared she would start her chant: Oh Ricki you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, HEY RICKI! she would screech. And screech. And screech.

At the end of the evening Ricki and Thirteen joined each other in the ring with their giant champions belts, to congratulate themselves and bask in the crowd’s adoration. Which they received in spades.

But! OMG! Ricki suddenly turned on Thirteen and decked him. Widespread hysteria ensued.

We pretended not to see the small blood pellet Thirteen had earlier popped into his mouth and now let flow down his chin. With his Goth make-up, all the ‘blood’ around his mouth looked suitably dramatic.

The referee handed Thirteen a microphone – the ref just happening to have one in his pocket. You son-of-a-bitch! Thirteen bellowed at Ricki, now keeping a sensible distance between them. Next bout – on 29 July everyone – it will be You and Me. Your title versus mine. Winner Takes ALLLLL!!!

What Ricki replied was lost in the roar of the crowd – the referee only had one microphone secreted in his pocket and Thirteen already had it. But suffice to say Ricki agreed to a grudge match.

The referee grabbed back the microphone. Oh. My. God. …. It’s ON! he yelled. No need to shout you’d think, with a microphone, but many people were standing on their chairs baying with excitement by now, so he had to holler at the top of his lungs to be heard.

Will you all be here on 29 July?, he boomed. On balance, probably not, I yelled back. But my response was lost in the guttural howl of affirmation by the rest of the crowd. That’s probably a good thing, because I think some of those crowd members could probably do you more damage than the actual wrestlers.

But then Kimmi D offered us free ring-side tickets to come back on 29 July. And it was such fun yelling our lungs out and getting landed on and laughing when we probably weren’t supposed to, what the heck we’re going back, one more time. Now we just have to find our best flannel shirts and ugg boots, and we’ll be set.

And the antiques fair? It was a fun morning, catching up with friends and seeing what’s on offer locally. But shocking buying. It’s not for nothing we go to Paris to find nice things. The next buying trip, in September, is definitely on. Right now we’re deciding on stop-over play days, then we’ll start booking.

But there’s a bit of selling to do before then, and hopefully we’ll see all who can make it at Collectorama on 3 June. It’s the championship event for the antiques industry, but I promise not to body-slam you to the floor and pretend to strangle you while you browse.

Unless you like it like that.

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