Great Pottery Throw Down star tells ME & MY MONEY about a VERY big decision: Giving a house to my ex-wife was worst and best thing I’ve ever done

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Fired up: Great Pottery Throw Down star Keith Brymer Jones

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Potter and ceramics designer Keith Brymer Jones was once paid “stupid” money to create a ground beef pot with comedian Harry Hill.

Brymer Jones, star of The Big Pottery Drop, will never forget how greasy and disgusting that experience was.

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A 57-year-old man tells Donna Ferguson that he bought a chapel in North Wales as a home and studio, but he can’t move in until the pigeons that have been sitting there for a decade leave. His autobiography, The Boy in the China Shop, is already out.

What did your parents teach you about money?

That money isn’t everything, so make sure you enjoy what you do for a living. I come from a fairly middle class, suburban family. My father was a building society manager, a job he hated, and my mother was a housewife.

Money wasn’t a problem. Every year we went on vacation, bought a new car and decorated the house quite often.

But then, when I was in my teens, the financial crash of the 1980s hit, and things went awry for my parents. Interest rates started to skyrocket. They really didn’t know how to cope. Money became tight, and my mother returned to work as a teacher.

Have you ever fought me and my money made ends meet?

Yes, in the early 2000s. Throughout the nineties I designed and handcrafted ceramics for major retailers such as Habitat, Marks & Spencer and Laura Ashley. I was the only one who made goods for the home, and they really liked it.

But in 2003, a retailer – I won’t name names – canceled several large orders after I had already bought all the materials and equipment I needed.

I was left with nothing, with all these materials and a very large VAT bill. In addition, I had already begun to make part of the orders, but there was no one to sell.

It became very difficult for me. I had to remortgage my house to pay the bills.

I started having sleepless nights. I couldn’t stop thinking about money. I didn’t know how I would live each day. It wasn’t good for my mental health.

In order to change my condition, I began to rethink the way I work. I realized that producing handicrafts for retail was no longer viable. So I started doing work from the Far East for retailers, which meant I could make a lot of money.

Have you ever been paid “stupid” money?

Yes, for the Harry Hill comedy sketch. I was asked to throw a pot on the wheel – but from minced meat, not from clay. I had a stupid hourly rate: about £250 an hour for a day of my work time.

We had to add all that fat to the minced meat to make it stick together. It was disgusting. But it was a lot of fun.

What was the best year in your financial life?

It was 1995. That year I threw thousands of pots into my wheel. The largest order was for 16,000 ceramics from Habitat, which took me three months to complete. The margin at that time was very good. I made six figures that year.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought for entertainment?

My Grenson boots. These are handmade British classics and I love them. They cost £560. I bought them in 2015 and still wear them.

What is your biggest money mistake?

I will give the house to my ex-wife. In 2000 I bought a house in Whitstable, Kent for £78,500. I gave it to her about four years ago when it cost £450,000. Our pensions and other assets were worth about the same. But the TV presenter, whose name I will not name, advised me to make her an offer that she could not refuse, to get a clean divorce, which I did.

Best money decision you’ve made?

He also gave his house to my ex-wife. I remember the judge said, are you sure you want to do this? And I said yes, absolutely. It gave my son, who was 11 years old at the time, security—meaning he and my ex-wife didn’t have to move.

Divorces can be very messy and I still feel very good about what I did. It was my best and worst financial decision.

Are you saving for retirement or investing in the stock market?

No. I used to save for retirement when I was in my early 20s, but now I think it’s a complete scam. They let other people play with your money. Also, I don’t see myself ever retiring.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to study the stock market. In my opinion, investing in stocks and stocks is, in essence, legal betting. It does not inflame me with great enthusiasm.

Personally, I think that real estate, gold and cash are three things to invest in.

Do you own any property?

Yes, my partner and I just bought a huge old chapel in North Wales to live and work in. It is about 9,500 square feet and is now inhabited by pigeons, having been abandoned for about a decade. After the renovation, we plan to do a lot of weird and wonderful things inside, like making trees grow indoors.

We are currently renting a 2 bedroom apartment in Margate but plan to move to North Wales early next year.

What little luxury do you indulge in?

Incredible peat bottle of Laphroaig whiskey for £120. I buy every six months. I have it on ice, which my partner Marge says is sacrilege.

If you were chancellor, what would be the first thing you would do?

I would tax the rich by increasing the amount of income tax they pay and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. There are people working full time who still can’t make ends meet. The system is broken.

What is your number one financial priority?

To renovate this chapel. This is the next chapter in my life and I need to keep going.


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