Marc Allum tells us about the world of antiques, and his love of terriers...
Marc Allum is a man of many talents! His love of antiques and quirky collectables has taken him on an enjoyable and — at times — unusual journey through life. He has been a specialist on the BBC’s flagship programme ‘Antiques Roadshow’ for 20 years, and his love of music, old vehicles, and property means he has devoted a lot of energy to restoring a number of old buildings, including a 17th century chateau, playing the guitar, and tinkering with old cars. He is also a writer, journalist, and the author of a number of books.
Q) Tell us about your first dog?
“My first dog was a Jack Russell called Pip Squeak. I went to Battersea Dogs Home, and saw her looking forlorn in the pen. She ambled over, and I knew she had to come home with me, but the problem was she had already been taken.
I was pretty fed up, but, on the off-chance, I was driving past again the next day, and I went in just to make sure. Incredibly, her other offer of a home had been declined because the people lived in a flat, and two hours later she was in my car… she was with us for 15 years. She’s buried in the grounds of the chateau we owned in France with a nice brass plaque. It was a good place to live out her last couple of years.”
Q) Tell us about your current dogs?
“I have a long-haired Jack Russell, called Maisie, and a brown ‘allsorts’ terrier, called Coco. Coco is the daughter of Maisie. We were living in France at the time; a visitor to our house accidentally let Maisie out one morning, and we ended up with a litter of pups fathered by a local farm dog! Coco was the runt of the litter and we couldn’t bear to see her go. Maisie makes a fleeting appearance in the opening titles of ‘Antiques Roadshow’. She’s in the boat.”
Q) Who has been/is the canine love of your life?
“My gran had a Corgi called Bryn when I was very young. He was always very patient with me and I liked him. He was related to the Queen’s Corgis… although I’m sure this is not an uncommon claim!”
Q) What do you enjoy most about being a dog owner?
“The loyalty and the sheer exuberance of the greeting I get after I’ve been away for few days. Also, as terriers, they are very clever, but absolutely indifferent to instruction most of the time. It can be frustrating, but it’s often also very funny!”
Q) If you were a dog, which breed would you be?
“Almost certainly a Jack Russell: tenacious, wilful, courageous, and very big dogs in small bodies. They please themselves, but give you plenty back in return.”
Q) What do you enjoy most about sharing your life with dogs?
“I like the attention. It’s a bit selfish really, but they are always there and always want to be involved, even if means just sleeping by your desk while you work. They are a calming distraction from the sometimes rigorous stresses of everyday life.”
Q) Tell us a funny story about one of your dogs?
“There are so many, but I remember one day I was in Gucci in London. I saw a dog collar and lead in the cabinet with a fairly eye-watering price tag. The collar had articulated chromium squares on it, spelling ‘Gucci Dog’, totally unsuitable for a rough old Jack Russell.
“Anyway, I bought it, mainly due to a very good sales pitch from a trendy young assistant, only to find that it was far too big. It was also completely incongruous on Pip Squeak, and constantly slipped off, leaving her trotting along behind me. It was consigned to a drawer. It’s still there.”
Q) Is there a dog-related product that you couldn’t live without?
“Not really. I don’t tend to go overboard on pet products (well, not any more), although I still find it hard not to buy the odd nice collar.”
Q) Where did your love of dogs begin?
“I’m a small dog person. My wife is too. I was more of a cat person when I was younger, but she put me on to terriers. I like terriers because they are compact; they can use a dog hatch; they don’t traipse in too much mud; and they don’t dribble!”
Q) Dogs on (or in) the bed: yes or no?
“No — definitely not in or on the bed. My pair constantly try but I’m very particular about it!”
Q) What’s your favourite dog-related film or TV show?
“I cried like a baby over ‘Marley and Me’ so I try to avoid weepy animal films. I like a tough ‘end of the world’ soulmate dog such as Mad Max’s Australian Cattle Dog, called Dog. Unfortunately, he meets a tragic end.”
Q) Do you have a favourite place for a dog-friendly holiday?
“Maisie loves the sea, Coco hates it, so they are quite a funny juxtaposition on the beach. I love West Wales; that’s where we tend to take them.”
Q) Do you have a favourite dog-related antique?
“I recently spent several hundred pounds on a 19th century Mastiff’s collar. It came from a butcher’s shop in Chippenham, where I live. It was in a local auction after the shop sadly closed. It’s a beauty and I couldn’t let it leave town. It’ll probably end up being given to the local museum one day.”