Just how far would you go for a piece? In terms of distance, of course, I don’t want to imply what sort of limb you’d lose for a piece.
Personally, I’ve travelled the world in search of the ultimate piece, but I’m reminded of a time when one of the hardest moments actually involved a full day of driving, a swarm of dead bees and interrupting an old dealer’s community social gathering.
This may take a while, so go get yourself a cup of tea, come back and click below to read on…
Once upon a time, the good Lady K and I were staying in rural Victoria, Daylesford to be correct. It was a lovely time of the year, not a cloud in the sky, nor a harsh warm breeze, the perfect harmony of the elements and a good time for the blood to get warm for some antiques.
I was reminded of an antique fair in the past months where a rather nice looking hair bracelet was for sale. I still had the name of the seller and decided to give her a call and see if she still had it available.
The seller was situated in about a three and a half hour drive from Daylesford, to the west of the state. I asked the good Lady if she was up for a nice drive (a good 6hrs round trip) and she seemed up for it.
I rang the seller and she mentioned that the bracelet was gone, however she did have a spectacular mourning ring for sale at her shop. She was open all day and the thought of no bracelet but a good ring was rather appealing to me. Lady K and I had a decent breakfast and saddled up for a long ride.
The trip began well enough, I took it easy in driving the way, as I hadn’t gone to this area of Victoria in about fifteen years.
Though the day was getting a little long in the tooth (it was after lunch and we were hungry), I started to push the car a little harder. Then, a good forty-five minutes out of the town, disaster struck. As we were driving between two small hills (bordering each side of the road), a swarm of bees descended upon the car with the ferocity of god’s own plague. The bees struck the car like machine gun fire and nearly forced us off the road.
The windscreen was coated with yellow and brown, my wiper could hardly move under the inch-thick crust of bee carcasses. K and I had to pull over to the side of the road to inspect the damage and it looked quite terrible, the car was no longer white, but looked more like it was wearing a bee costume. Every vent and inch of surface was coated. Dauntless, we pushed on.
We arrived and had an easy lunch, by this time I needed what I could get as my adrenaline rush was quite finished for the day and I was ready to collapse. Finding the store, we went in and scanned the cabinets for the ring. After looking around for the seller (whom showed no trace), I spoke with another person there. Asking her about the ring, I received the response ‘Umm… Gee… I don’t remember a mourning ring… Umm… Actually, we have one in our other store…’ Asking her were the store was, she replied that it was a further two and a half hour drive south towards the sea.
The Lady and I weren’t too pleased at all by this point, but the day was ours for the taking. After finding a service station to manually clean the windscreen of bees, we entered the bee-on-wheels for another long trip.
After a long, yet leisurely, cruise with map in hand to find our way, we crossed from central Victoria to the coast. We zig-zagged the streets under the impression that the store would be easy to find, but as usual, nothing is that easy.
Finally, we found it on the fringes of the city and quickly got out and went upstairs.
We entered the store and reclined with legs outspread was a rather shaggy looking young man. He blinked a few times upon our entering and I quickly leapt upon the cabinets, trying to find my prize. I did see a very ordinary late Victorian hair band that in no way represented what was described to me.
Asking the chap behind the counter about the ring, he responded ‘Uh, is that the stuff that’s to do with dead people?’ As my heart stopped and my face grew red, I politely said it was. ‘Oh, mum told me about that stuff! Oh geez, I dunno if we have anything like that here…’ So I pointed out that he had a mourning ring in the cabinet and then retold the description of what I was after verbatim. He simply shook his head. ‘Na, mum would know about that stuff, but I never seen anything like that around here.’
Holding back from kicking over the cabinet, the Lady and I walked downstairs. I checked my phone for a signal. It was threadbare, but I could just make a call from this rural town. Summoning up all my passive-aggressive rage, I rang the other store up and the lad’s mother answered. ‘Oh hi, yeah, you missed the ring here! I’ve taken it out now, sorry I missed you.’ I told her that her lackey suggested the extra tour of Victoria and that I had met her son. ‘I’m so sorry about that. Look, I’m happy to give you a ten percent discount to the ring if you can make it back in time, I close at five.’ I looked at my watch, it was just after 3pm.
‘But, I’ve got a two and a half hour drive ahead of me, can’t you stay open an extra thirty minutes? I’ve driven all the way across Victoria for this ring…’
‘Sorry, darl’, but I’ve got a Rotary meeting tonight.’
I hung up and crushed my fist around the phone, very close to throwing it against the wall. The Lady saw the rage bubbling up inside me and as I told her the story, she shared my grief.
Never one to back down from the hunt, I entered the giant bumblebee and pushed the speed limit. No car would dare do any less than the maximum limit with me on the roads and I furiously drove across the landscape, trying to chase that closing time. The sun followed us to the horizon and before I had a chance to breathe, I looked at the clock.
4:59. We made it, we entered the town with a minute to spare. I gunned the car to the street as burnt into my memory and leapt out, leaving the car and the Lady behind. Breathing heavy, I made it to the door just to see her walking towards the glass door, key in hand.
‘Oh my god, I didn’t think you’d make it! Look, I even kept the store open for you!’ I looked at my watch and it was 5:02pm.
She shuffled off and I watched her hurredly grab a ring box and something else from behind the cabinet. She quickly came back and showed me a rather nice ring, surrounded by blue enamel in a star pattern with a diamond in the centre. On the back was a compartment for hair and the names of several family members surrounding the band, all with dates. The other item of interest was a decent hair fob chain. ‘As I said, you can get ten percent off, but I’ve got to get to Rotary right now!’ Never one to keep a person inconvenienced, I hurridly paid and was moved out of the shop quickly.
She moved into the sunset and I looked around at the Lady K and then my freshly painted car. All three of us looked dishevelled and worn, but deep, deep down, I couldn’t contain my excitement for the thrill of the hunt.