Sarah and Colin
The other day I was having my hair cut at Tony and Guy in Brighton. I love to be pampered in the salon and read all the glossy magazines like Vogue and Harpers. The last one I picked up was The Tatler and there staring out at me in the travel section was a blast from my past - Sarah and Colin Baddiel with a full page sepia photo of them smiling on the beach in Swansea. A photo of a happy family but it was not in later years to be that way. The article about family holidays and its importance, was written by their son, the famous comedian David Baddiel.
I first met Sarah and Colin around 1980 as we were all collectables dealers in London. They both had separate stands at Grays antique market in the basement of the Mews. Sarah specialised in Golfiana memorabilia and books while Colin dealt in dinky toys.
We bonded as first we were all Jewish and secondly Colin came from Swansea in Wales as did my mother. He had originally been a collector of dinkies but when he was made redundant by Unilever, he decided to become a full time dealer doing the collectors model fairs as well as Grays market. 'From this, you make a living?' I would ask to which he would smile and keep schtum!
Sarah was another kettle of fish. She always wore a décolleté top showing her trim figure and her cleavage but confessed to me she used to be fat after she had had her kids. Hard to believe especially as she told me Colin preferred her previous shape! She spoke little of her kids, in fact she only mentioned one, David, who had been sent to a good school which cost a fortune which was why she was a workaholic! Little did we know that David would break in on the TV comedy scene and become famous. Even then she never mentioned his success in later years although she, of course, would have been a proud typically Jewish Mama! Oy vey!!
I glanced at her Golfiana books but did not know that she was a prolific writer. That was separate to her wheeling and dealing and never discussed with other dealers not in the know. In those days I did not ask people in the trade about their former lives, Colin being an exception because he told me without asking.
I was an Ephemera guru for 20 years or so being a founder member of The Ephemera Society in London. Sarah was on that circuit too as she was always hunting for Golfiana memorabilia and Ephemera. Thus I would see her at the monthly Sunday fairs and the postcard fairs too. She was all over the place racing around and very speedy. Colin, by contrast, was calmer and unstressed. Sarah was always hyper and out for a bargain at any cost. But she knew what she wanted, like myself.
In the later years things were not going well in her marriage and she did mention, en passant, she had a golfing lover of 20 years David White but never, never went into sexual details of what they got up to on the links! In fact I had no idea she was highly sexed until I read about it in David's article! I guess that was detached from her dealings with us. In fact I recall she announced they had separated and Colin had his meals in his room but it was too costly to divorce because it would mean selling the house, that I knew so well.
In fact I know they used to do business together. Odd to think of a husband and wife dealing and not sharing. But all relationships and marriages are different and we never know what goes on behind closed doors!
I drifted away from full time dealing and Sarah and Colin because I had set up my archive called ' Retrograph' which became a commercial photo library. So the dealer, moi-meme, had become a collector. Why sell when you can have your cake and eat it too?
I lost touch with both of them completely although, running into an old toy dealer Stuart Cropper last year, learned that Sarah had died. She used to have a showcase near his stand on the ground floor in the Mews. Until I read David's well written article, I had no idea Sarah had gone on to be a TV personality and that Colin is still alive with a rare illness called Pick's disease (a form of dementia) at 81 which David made a TV documentary about for Channel 4.
I 'stole' the pages, secretly tearing them out of the glossy posh Tatler magazine but cherish the memory of Sarah's happy smile in her distant sunny past.
Those were the days!
Written on the train Brighton to London on 13/7/17 going to meet Eico Kano, Japanese chef for a reunion.
Google - David Baddiel
Google - Sarah Baddiel
Google - EphemeraSocietyLondon.org
Google - Retrograph Archive
Google - Tatler.com/July 2017
Google - Grays antiques
Wikipedia - David Baddiel
Google - The trouble with dad - Channel 4 documentary about Colin
Google - Dinky toys
Google - schtum in Yiddish