Mad dealers #4
I first met the late actor and A. R. Quinton postcard collector Hewson Osborne way back in the late 1960s in Bayswater Road where he had a small shop off Queensway. I wandered in and saw a small hexigon table I wanted to put by my bedside in my Craven Hill flat in Bayswater, London W2. Even in those early days I loved flea markets and old curiosity shops but horror of horrors I didn't have enough money on me to pay for the £5 table. Well, a couple of pounds but Hewson seemed an nice eccentric, so I offered an interesting trade after he told me he had been married and divorced to a lady from the exotic Caribbean. Never before and never since, I offered him £2 plus a free ticket to a disco on Oxford Street, a bus ticket and wait for it, my Jamaican girl friend's telephone number. Her name was Carol Francis and she worked at the BBC in the Caribbean section as a broadcaster. Well it worked. They had a brief affair and I kept in touch on and off with Hewson for 40 'odd' years.
He would give parties in his large Bayswater flat which he shared with a bachelor friend whose family was connected with copper mines in Bolivia and had family portraits gracing the walls. There would always be exotic West Indian ladies present dancing and having a good time.
Hewson turned up in Portobello Road selling large wooden Victorian boxes inlaid with ivory and mixed woods. He was the king of the antique boxes and writing compendiums plus a large stock of British postcards.
Postcards were his real passion and he and his second wife, the lovely Orita also from the West Indies, would exhibit monthly at the Bloomsbury Hotel at the Sunday fairs and sometimes at The Ephemera Society fairs which was my circuit.
There were more linkups as he was very friendly with the eccentric postcard dealer and collector Drene Brennan and his cousin Monica who I met by accident when I walked into her Portobello Road clothes shop at the top end of the road before one got to the market. It was a lovely intimate shop full of hand knitted jackets made in Manchester so the price was more reasonable. There I noticed wooden antique boxes for sale and immediately recognised Hewson's stock. One day my gentleman house painter David was sitting in Monica's shop having tea and it turned out he was Monica's partner and had lived many years in Jamaica in the rum business. Wheels within wheels plus Hewson and David were good friends.
I recall after I left London to live in Brighton and the Portobello world of antiques after 30 years in the business, I stayed the night at Hewson's flat and was made most welcome. I was hoping it would be the first of many visits but unfortunately he sold it and moved miles away to his birth place Southend where Monica also resided. That night when I stayed over I discovered Orita was very spiritual, reading the cards and believing in angels. On a whim Hewson had bought a house in France which he never had the time to visit. He was not a practical man when it came to business. He just did things for fun. His other career was as a film extra while Orita would work in department stores selling various products as a demonstrator which she still does today even though I am sure she does not have to work!
The last time I saw Hewson he was 80 when he came to a bonfire party on the 5th of November I gave in Brighton with Orita. He looked wonderful for his age but had cancer then. I would never see my lifelong dear old friend again. Orita finally moved from Southend and without fail still sends me a Xmas card each year. I really must ask her about what happened to his enormous valuable A. R. Quinton postcard collection.
Written in the Villa Perla, Kaleici, Antalya, Turkey on Holi Day 12/3/17.