Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Aladdin's is a cave no more

It used to be a mix of Aladdin's cave, pirate's den and older boys clubhouse. One of those secret places that made you feel glowing with smugness for knowing about it. Hugely satisfying to take visitors from out of town to and wait for the inevitable gasps - that kind of place.

Treasure hunting here was not to be taken lightly though. Especially not while carrying an oversized handbag. 'You break it you buy it' meant you could just end up with an 18th century squinting Madonna. A broken one. Then there were the dangers of setting foot on the creaking and groaning mezzanine, wondering whether that second helping you had the night before was going to prove fatal. Ah, that feeling of indecision in the pit of your stomach as you reached the end of the entresol - would it be best to chance a quick yet light-footed dash back (desperately trying not to knock anything over), or try your luck descending the Spiral Staircase of Death: wobbly, narrow and out to ruin your heels.

Risking your neck could be worth it though. Really worth it if you allowed the minx in you to come out and play. Which isn't all that hard when there are pretty things to be had, let's be honest. I struck some really good bargains here with the odd lash flutter, a demure smile and a whispered 'well I don't know' while discussing the price. Whoever said I even resorted to twirling my hair is a big fat liar though - I haven't stooped that low since I was six. And even then it made me feel quite ridiculous.

It was a dream of a place but sadly, all good things must come to an end. The owner has found himself a lady friend. And wouldn't you know - she likes to play house. All of a sudden the downstairs has a proper floor. A nice one, that you can actually see. No more mad stacking of as many antiquey kitschy items the building can hold. Objects are now arranged in pretty displays. Tasteful. Stylish. CLEAN. Even my old nemesis the mezzanine has been getting quite a makeover. Which hasn't actually stopped the creaking and the groaning and the murmured 'please don't let this be the day the whole bloody thing comes falling down' prayers.

Funny thing though. They've incorporated all the changes I thought would make the place even better, and yet part of the magic is undeniably gone. Goodbye Aladdin's cave, hello upmarket antiques store. Did I mention that prices have gone up significantly?

Lash flutters would now be wasted here. The new lady manageress is patrolling the store. Charming, elegant,  sophisticated, she greets visitors with a polite smile. Not to mention a very, very steely gaze.

All photos were taken post makeover. 


  1. Oh I love finding places like these (in the original state), and your description of how it makes you feel (glowing with smugness) is so perfect! What a shame it's been sanitised and made to conform and behave. No fun at all. I hope the new lady friend doesn't control his entire life the way she's controlling his shop!

    Have a great weekend Sacha.

    Linda. xox

  2. It's still a lovely place, but the old shop was so much more unique. It was as if the owner was fulfilling a boyhood fantasy together with some of his mates - a kind of Never Neverland in a way! And you could tell it wasn't about making a profit, it was about discovering things they loved and find them good homes. At least that's the impression I got. I have a lovely art deco table that takes pride of place in the living room, that I bought there for an absolute steal. They still have a lot of gorgeous things now, but the thrill of making a real bargain is a thing of the past! Too bad...

  3. Oh, these wannabe stylists!! Why do they have to ruin every thing? And then they make all look so plain and already seen. Lovely, but nothing new, right?

  4. Exactly. Lovely, but not so very special anymore. And here's me thinking that the place could really do with some TLC - it got a bit too much!


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