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He put a potato in the microwave. He liked the leathery texture it produces in the base of the potato. The machine pinged at three minutes, he grabbed a rolling pin and smashed the potato on the head. He thumbed a cube of butter through the split in the skin as he mouthed bon appetit. Sliding into his George III mahogany saddleback armchair in the living room, he gnawed at the potato and pondered the difference between soft hardwoods and hard softwoods. 


He had his main monitor here: a 76” Samsung with absolutely no depth and a profoundly thin frame bracketed above the fireplace. He liked the fire to have as many flames as possible and the air in front of the monitor to be bendy in the heat. He’d hooked the monitor up to a multichannel livestream of ongoing auctions across the UK and western Europe, and he liked to see the auctioneers swaying about with their gavels like they were roasting over the fire in a large cauldron. Alerts of competing bidders in the more minor auctions on liveauctioneers.com, easyliveauction.com and the-saleroom.com would appear as pop-up banners from the edges of the monitor. YOU’VE BEEN OUTBID! was his least favourite phrase and prompted immediate retaliation. The exclamation mark particularly pissed him off. 


He ran a pretty tight ship. On his left wrist was an Apple watch dedicated to communication with Damian, his interiors consultant dismissed from multiple National Trust sites in West Sussex and now his full-time employee, and on his right wrist was an Apple watch dedicated to communication with Lewis, an estate agent he’d bought his Blunden Shadbolt neo-Tudor home from. He’d regularly refer to them as his left- and right-hand men. He felt Damian was reliable primarily because he’d been professionally dismissed so often, and figured it was due to Damian’s uncompromising attitude to heritage. He’d never dismissed Damian, and felt this reflected well on him as an employer, and very poorly on the National Trust. He liked Lewis because Lewis had a way with words, and would talk about the ‘bones of the building’ and say things like ‘fresh as the day it was made’. Lewis rarely returned his calls, but when he did, it was mainly to sell him things, and he enjoyed these calls very much. 


Realising there was a cooked ham stewing in its own juices in the fridge, he sauntered back into the kitchen and began slicing it off the bone and eating it as he sliced. He thought of the decades of boar stews and cabbage embedded in antique wooden serving surfaces. How animal fats seep into wood and at what rate. He liked a deep amber patina and wondered if you rubbed any bit of wood with a chamois cloth dipped in ale it would go a nice colour. He composed a text to Damian: desperate for an orangery. He added: also keen on multiple outhouses in the olde english style with stable doors opening into a circular grassy space for social grazing with a fountain in the middle probably a guy balancing on one leg with wings on his head and the water coming out his mouth depending on availability see if can also hook up to wine. Then: is there a way to guarantee a robin redbreast is in the garden at all times I want it to appear sometimes then fly away but not too far. Then: also thinking of another cottage with a massive extension.


It was important to him that he had quality property with quality contents and that he protected his assets appropriately. He spent particular time thinking about creatures that eat wood, like horned powderpost beetles, weevils, the fan-bearing wood-borer, the ambrosia beetle, and he’d heard some horror stories about the velvet longhorn. He was obsessed with wood exit holes. He regularly injected liquid cypermethrin into his timber beams, and had installed a low level of fumigation with methyl bromide and sulphuryl fluoride through the air con. When the tips of his fingers started to tingle he’d slide open a couple windows and don a full-face gas mask and respirator. The mask had 97% normal visual field access so it didn’t really affect him seeing the edges of the Samsung monitor. 


By night, he’d add more automatic alerts to auction website search databases, and would sleep little. He was keen on table-top treen: unusually large boxwood mounted muffineer OR george I fruitwood pounce pot OR george II pearwood footed tazza OR english bog oak mether OR willow lamhog OR regency boxwood wig powderer OR charles II cherry pricket candlestick OR james I planewood possett cup OR silver root burr maple mounted mazer goblet. Every search alert was a potential goldmine. Damian told him about masterpieces of English woodcarving once found hidden in the incorrectly assembled Ikea furniture of a widower’s estate sale. 


Damian liked to be very complex. Damian liked to make a distinction between Wimbledon Transitional, Stockbroker’s Tudor and Bypass Variegated forms of the Tudoresque. But he didn’t really care. He knew he liked the Tudors most, and that was enough. Jonathan Rhys Meyers was probably his favourite Henry, and if he could meet one Henry it would be Jonathan Rhys Meyers above Henry VIII himself. He liked a walled garden. He also liked the Secret Garden. He liked the way in the 1949 film version of the Secret Garden it’s black and white, which he loved, until they go into the garden itself and then it all changes to colour. He’d like to have that kind of effect happen for real, in real life, on his real estate. He liked how even though they could have done it all in colour, they didn’t, because it shows you don’t have to do something just because you can. For example, he liked things to be restored just the right amount. And he liked those Espalier apple and pear trees that can be tied to wooden frames and pruned back so they grow into whatever shape you like. He liked a lot of things, and he thought it was reasonable enough to have all the things he liked around him. 


He had a cut of lamb neck he’d been tenderising all week with an unusually small George II sycamore meat mallet. It looked at him from the kitchen counter. It needed a good frying for supper. He put in three absentee bids at 150% the auctioneer’s upper estimate on some oak items from the contents of a country manor in north Lincolnshire. There have only ever been three reasons for a good auction: debt, death and divorce. From his armchair, he considered for a moment which this could be. He settled on death, complicated by tasteless heirs. Then, having ambled his way back to the kitchen, he dropped a spoonful of goose fat into a pan on the stove and watched it liquefy. The lamb hit the oily surface with a crackle as he released a chuckle of delight. 

He put a potato in the microwave. He liked the leathery texture it produces in the base of the potato. The machine pinged at three minutes, he grabbed a rolling pin and smashed the potato on the head. He thumbed a cube of butter through the split in the skin as he mouthed bon appetit. Sliding into his George III mahogany saddleback armchair in the living room, he gnawed at the potato and pondered the difference between soft hardwoods and hard softwoods. 


He had his main monitor here: a 76” Samsung with absolutely no depth and a profoundly thin frame bracketed above the fireplace. He liked the fire to have as many flames as possible and the air in front of the monitor to be bendy in the heat. He’d hooked the monitor up to a multichannel livestream of ongoing auctions across the UK and western Europe, and he liked to see the auctioneers swaying about with their gavels like they were roasting over the fire in a large cauldron. Alerts of competing bidders in the more minor auctions on liveauctioneers.com, easyliveauction.com and the-saleroom.com would appear as pop-up banners from the edges of the monitor. YOU’VE BEEN OUTBID! was his least favourite phrase and prompted immediate retaliation. The exclamation mark particularly pissed him off. 


He ran a pretty tight ship. On his left wrist was an Apple watch dedicated to communication with Damian, his interiors consultant dismissed from multiple National Trust sites in West Sussex and now his full-time employee, and on his right wrist was an Apple watch dedicated to communication with Lewis, an estate agent he’d bought his Blunden Shadbolt neo-Tudor home from. He’d regularly refer to them as his left- and right-hand men. He felt Damian was reliable primarily because he’d been professionally dismissed so often, and figured it was due to Damian’s uncompromising attitude to heritage. He’d never dismissed Damian, and felt this reflected well on him as an employer, and very poorly on the National Trust. He liked Lewis because Lewis had a way with words, and would talk about the ‘bones of the building’ and say things like ‘fresh as the day it was made’. Lewis rarely returned his calls, but when he did, it was mainly to sell him things, and he enjoyed these calls very much. 


Realising there was a cooked ham stewing in its own juices in the fridge, he sauntered back into the kitchen and began slicing it off the bone and eating it as he sliced. He thought of the decades of boar stews and cabbage embedded in antique wooden serving surfaces. How animal fats seep into wood and at what rate. He liked a deep amber patina and wondered if you rubbed any bit of wood with a chamois cloth dipped in ale it would go a nice colour. He composed a text to Damian: desperate for an orangery. He added: also keen on multiple outhouses in the olde english style with stable doors opening into a circular grassy space for social grazing with a fountain in the middle probably a guy balancing on one leg with wings on his head and the water coming out his mouth depending on availability see if can also hook up to wine. Then: is there a way to guarantee a robin redbreast is in the garden at all times I want it to appear sometimes then fly away but not too far. Then: also thinking of another cottage with a massive extension.


It was important to him that he had quality property with quality contents and that he protected his assets appropriately. He spent particular time thinking about creatures that eat wood, like horned powderpost beetles, weevils, the fan-bearing wood-borer, the ambrosia beetle, and he’d heard some horror stories about the velvet longhorn. He was obsessed with wood exit holes. He regularly injected liquid cypermethrin into his timber beams, and had installed a low level of fumigation with methyl bromide and sulphuryl fluoride through the air con. When the tips of his fingers started to tingle he’d slide open a couple windows and don a full-face gas mask and respirator. The mask had 97% normal visual field access so it didn’t really affect him seeing the edges of the Samsung monitor. 


By night, he’d add more automatic alerts to auction website search databases, and would sleep little. He was keen on table-top treen: unusually large boxwood mounted muffineer OR george I fruitwood pounce pot OR george II pearwood footed tazza OR english bog oak mether OR willow lamhog OR regency boxwood wig powderer OR charles II cherry pricket candlestick OR james I planewood possett cup OR silver root burr maple mounted mazer goblet. Every search alert was a potential goldmine. Damian told him about masterpieces of English woodcarving once found hidden in the incorrectly assembled Ikea furniture of a widower’s estate sale. 


Damian liked to be very complex. Damian liked to make a distinction between Wimbledon Transitional, Stockbroker’s Tudor and Bypass Variegated forms of the Tudoresque. But he didn’t really care. He knew he liked the Tudors most, and that was enough. Jonathan Rhys Meyers was probably his favourite Henry, and if he could meet one Henry it would be Jonathan Rhys Meyers above Henry VIII himself. He liked a walled garden. He also liked the Secret Garden. He liked the way in the 1949 film version of the Secret Garden it’s black and white, which he loved, until they go into the garden itself and then it all changes to colour. He’d like to have that kind of effect happen for real, in real life, on his real estate. He liked how even though they could have done it all in colour, they didn’t, because it shows you don’t have to do something just because you can. For example, he liked things to be restored just the right amount. And he liked those Espalier apple and pear trees that can be tied to wooden frames and pruned back so they grow into whatever shape you like. He liked a lot of things, and he thought it was reasonable enough to have all the things he liked around him. 


He had a cut of lamb neck he’d been tenderising all week with an unusually small George II sycamore meat mallet. It looked at him from the kitchen counter. It needed a good frying for supper. He put in three absentee bids at 150% the auctioneer’s upper estimate on some oak items from the contents of a country manor in north Lincolnshire. There have only ever been three reasons for a good auction: debt, death and divorce. From his armchair, he considered for a moment which this could be. He settled on death, complicated by tasteless heirs. Then, having ambled his way back to the kitchen, he dropped a spoonful of goose fat into a pan on the stove and watched it liquefy. The lamb hit the oily surface with a crackle as he released a chuckle of delight. 

TEXT BY ADAM HINES-GREEN

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Open during exhibitions from Thursday to Saturday, 1-5 PM or by appointment.

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Open during exhibitions from Thursday to Saturday, 1-5 PM or by appointment.

VISIT

Open during exhibitions from Thursday to Saturday, 1-5 PM or by appointment.

VISIT

Open during exhibitions from Thursday to Saturday, 1-5 PM or by appointment.

VISIT

Open during exhibitions from Thursday to Saturday, 1-5 PM or by appointment.

Distillery Tower
2 Mill Lane
London, SE8 4HP

Distillery Tower
2 Mill Lane
London, SE8 4HP

Distillery Tower
2 Mill Lane
London, SE8 4HP

Distillery Tower
2 Mill Lane
London, SE8 4HP

Distillery Tower
2 Mill Lane
London, SE8 4HP