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June 03, 2006

Death portrait in Monastiraki

On Tuesday I took V. along to second-hand treasure trove/junk shop Monastiraki for a good nose around. They've got some great new things in, including a massive old jukebox, and I noticed for the first time that they sell old guns as well as old 80s vinyl records - which kind of illustrates the range of stuff in there. It really is an odd mix - some stuff that is valuable, and some absolute junk.

I found a great little A5 booklet of Greek league football statistics from the 1980s. It was the kind of thing that would have been an instant purchase back in the days before I had reduced my possessions to the contents of one back-pack. Nowadays I thought about what I would actually do with it - and realised that short of writing about it on here, and sticking it on a shelf, it wasn't going to enrich my life. So I'll probably go back and buy it next week.

We passed over the antique Greek bongo mags, and had a look upstairs where there is a selection of antique radios, and even a model of the Eiffel Tower made from matchsticks and inlaid with what looks like red perspex. They also had a quite grotesque carved African head set into a wooden frame.

Deadgranny The highlight of this visit, though, was this photograph. It was quite large, maybe 40cm across, and is a family portrait from probably around the turn of the twentieth century, featuring several family members, all gathered around the open coffin of one the family elders. Complete with corpse.

I couldn't help thinking that if you were going to go to all the trouble and expense of a family portrait in an era when photography was expensive, difficult, and had to be done professionally, you could have at least got together to do it before grandma died.

We hatched a plan to purchase it, smuggle it into the house, and then hang it in our spare room when Claire wasn't looking to freak her out - but then decided that was a little too cruel.

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