As we headed down Berwick Street on the edge of Soho, a mirage appeared in the form of a narrow shop-front with a chaotic window crammed with scruffy-looking chandeliers and lanterns. As we crossed the road I could barely contain my excitement …
(A bit of background: Until about a year ago chandeliers were ‘not my sort of thing’. Yet when I wanted an injection of glamour in our bedroom, somehow only a chandelier would do. I was actually slightly embarrassed that I wanted one and I expected an anti-bling backlash from Baz and C, but they egged me on to find something I liked. I did, and once it was installed by Ray the sparky I was seduced by the effect of the light. This started a crystal-fuelled frenzy and it’s very lucky that the French house came along to save our simple little bungalow from being turned into a Disney castle)
… As we entered the shop, the man re-stringing a large chandelier by the door invited us to look around the chaotic jumble of ‘stuff’ hanging from the ceiling and standing on the floor. As there was no obvious path through the cluttered room we ventured up the stairs, the walls of which were similarly festooned in grubby ormolu wall lights and sconces
Five floors of fragile orphans lay ahead. At each level there was one small room, cluttered with unloved lights dripping down from ceilings and walls, and strewn on tables and benches. Filthy and unrestored, they were all waiting to be renovated to order and re-homed. Some were no doubt more desirable than others but to my untrained eye they were all beautiful in their decay. I doubt I would have left empty-handed if I’d been on my own
Back downstairs, I admired a large crackle-glazed glass shade dangling from a bronze hanger, which the owner referred to as the ‘bogey drip’ on account of its shape. He told us he nearly sold it recently, but when he took it down from the ceiling there was a dead mouse in it and the lady buyer ran screaming from the shop, never to return. When he told me the price I nearly screamed and ran off too
I said that I could easily spend a week looking around. ‘Well,’ he suggested theatrically, ‘We have a bench on the stairs. It’s 250 quid a month or you can rent it by the hour.’
Bright lights and a bench to rent by the hour. That’s pure Soho!!