Do you suffer from ‘bargainitis’? You are not alone, says Sam Taylor
A shelf of boxed buses. Mr Pickwick Jug and various teaware. Office chair and two boxes of inks. Sitar and clock etc. Fishing bag and accessories. A set of 19th-century oak dining chairs and similar elbow chair.

For those readers with even a passing acquaintance with the local auction rooms, the catalogue entries at Burstow and Hewett in Battle will have a familiar ring. All life is here. Most of it unwanted.


Except, that is, by those afflicted with ‘bargainitis’. This is an acute condition that compels the sufferer to spend fruitless hours (weeks even) trawling through the contents of other people’s rejects in the vain hope that they will discover that priceless gem foolishly overlooked by others. I, dear reader, am a lifelong sufferer for which I have come to accept there is no cure.

Alan Clark once snobbishly dismissed Michael Heseltine with the line: ‘The trouble with Michael is that he had to buy all his furniture.’ The trouble with me is that I have to buy everyone else’s. Chairs, tables, washstands, bedside cabinets, beds (a lovely old brass frame with an impossible mattress size), you name it, I can’t walk past it. I take heart from the fact that I am not alone; female attendance at local auction sales has increased by more than 20 per cent in the last 10 years.


And it’s not just auctions. Junk shops (or vintage shops, as they are now known) are full of goggle-eyed ‘bargainisters’, all jostling to buy items that remind us of a more comforting time. Peek Frean’s biscuit tin, anyone?

Occasionally my ‘priceless gems’ serve as historical prompts. The hoard of old Kilner storage jars now sitting in my larder reminded me that this stalwart Yorkshire company had been forced out of business in 1937 with the loss of 3,000 jobs after a judge ruled that their factory was too smelly and ‘no one had the right to interfere with anyone else’s pure air’. Any jars bought were made in the USA.

The five dining chairs I bought at auction, however (see list above), have only served to remind me that Mark does not agree that it is a basic requirement of all husbands to move furniture. He claims to have developed his own incurable condition. It’s called ‘putting foot downitis’.

Next week: Distemper distress