Ian Curtis Table’s eBay Return Shines Light on Seller’s Obsession
Tel Harrop's new listing functions as a short story about fandom, inspiration, and mortality
Thanks to a deadbeat buyer, Ian Curtis’ kitchen table is back on eBay, but now it comes with a new story — the earnest and wee-bit touching tale of the man who is selling it, his relationship to the music of Joy Division, and the history of his own recently revived band. No doubt responding to the objections of the Curtis family and implications that he’s trying to make a buck off of Curtis’ troubled legacy (the singer hung himself in his kitchen), seller Tel Harrop breaks it down.
“Feb 1980 I played Football at Whitby Park Ellesmere Port,” Harrop writes in the eBay item description. “This bloke comes on the pitch (the latest boyfriend of a Girl I knew), wearing a raincoat. Quite rightly he got stood on during the game, and spent the rest of the match up a tree.” We assume those are metaphorical turns of phrase. Then we get to the reason for the season, and pretty much every season in Harrop’s life to follow: “This was the first Joy Division fan I ever met.”
Three months later Curtis took his own life, and Harrop had also turned into a fan (“‘Transmission’ … changed my life,” he says). He and “the latest boyfriend of a Girl I knew” became pen pals, writing to one another and exchanging mixtapes. They wound up starting a band together, and attended one of New Order’s very first shows. Their paths eventually diverged, but Harrop founded a new band, Always the Way, after moving to Scotland in 1983.
Long story short (though it’s worth reading in full): While people came and went, Harrop’s love for Joy Division and New Order never wavered, and he amassed an extensive and expensive collection of memorabilia along the way. In fact, he purchased the table in question via eBay seven years ago. But his wife’s mother recently passed away, and he’d reconnected with his bandmates via Facebook, and all of that inspired him to take a look at his own life through the lens of mortality.
“At this point I had an epiphany,” Harrop continues. “I had to sell my collection and finally leave behind something of worth as my own legacy. I had spent thousands of pounds on someone else’s music and extra’s, to the detriment of my own musical ambitions … The money raised will go towards band equipment and recording equipment so that we can finally fully realise the potential of the songs and melodies we hear in our heads and hearts.”