Yes, the sale. There have, over the past 25 years, been remarkably few problems. Once, a good friend helped the Sage unpack the china – a piece was missing. In something of a panic, the Sage drove home – rather more than an hour later, he arrived back again, without it. It was a tiny miniature coffee pot, very rare and valuable, about 2 inches tall. It was found – he’d packed it in tissue paper inside a teapot (full sized) and the friend hadn’t realised it was there and had put the paper aside. Nowadays, I’d have told the Sage that he’d never make the mistake of leaving a piece behind and searched first, but we were young and impulsive in those days and we did panic. I’ve never taken part in the packing or unpacking – it’s asking for trouble when two people are involved and neither knows exactly what the other has done.
Another time, someone put a teabowl down too hard and broke it. Poor chap, he’d just got his first pair of bifocals and had misjudged the distance to the table. He was awfully embarrassed, but the matter was discussed amicably and he paid for the piece, had it repaired and sold it for just as much – it was already cracked and a good repair didn’t reduce its value. It’s the only time an item has ever been damaged at a sale.
On Friday, the viewing had been going on for more than an hour when someone asked if there was a mistake in the catalogue? Lot 43 was listed as a teabowl and saucer, but there was only a saucer on view, although the condition report said that the bowl was slightly stained. Careful searching of the boxes found nothing. Was it a mistake in cataloguing? I was going to go in search of the internet, when Weeza reminded me that she could look it up on her phone. We have pay-as-you-go phones, so such splendidness is beyond our ken – and indeed, the picture showed the teabowl. The Sage said he’d withdraw the piece, apologise to the owner and sell it with no vendor’s commission next time (it was no big deal, only worth £150) but we were both upset. Then I decided to check everything carefully – remembering that the Sage is not careless, so more likely that the piece hadn’t been carelessly left out when he packed up several weeks ago.
When we arrived, the tables and chairs were all set out, but not quite as we wanted them, so we spent half an hour getting it all right, so we were only just ready when the first people arrived to view. And – this was the real problem as it turned out – someone came to ask the Sage’s advice on a couple of pieces of china. If not for that, I’d have got him to check carefully the layout against the catalogue. As it was, we were too busy. Now, the first 8 lots each had between 2 and 8 items in them, of damaged china. When I got to Lot 4, I could see at once the missing teabowl. The Sage had run out of numbers and put on a separate 4 and 3, and the 3 had fallen off. So it was unsurprising that he hadn’t realised. And neither of us had checked china against catalogue. Which we normally always do.
I felt a bit jagged after that and had a cup of strong black coffee. Which was awfully good of me, as I went into the unstaffed bar (with permission) to make it. I could have had anything. Anything. Gosh, I’m professional. Anyway, no harm done and we didn’t fuss and it’s taught us yet another lesson. Although I was a bit shook up. Nevertheless, when adding up totals at the end, I was no end pleased that the books balanced, to the penny. This doesn’t always happen, especially when I have to count money and give change. I’m not good with big notes, I lose track sometimes. And I can only add up by hand, I get awfully confused with a calculator.
Thank you so much for looking up hip resurfacing for me, I really appreciate it. You are so kind. I met a woman, who came along with a friend of ours (the Sage and I have both known him far longer than we’ve known each other!) who remembered me and my sister from school, which was a bit embarrassing as I didn’t remember her – neither did Wink, when I spoke to her later, which probably means she’s in between our ages … anyway, let’s face it, we lived in the nicest house in the village by far and everyone must have known of our family, although Wink and I were quite unaware of that. Towards the end of the viewing, I was walking limpily and she recognised the symptom of dodgy hip – so she told me of a friend who’d had his hip resurfaced some 4 years ago, by the chap I mentioned in yesterday’s comments, and it’s been a resounding success. I’ve heard of the operation, but I understood that the long-term results are as yet unknown as it’s only been done for about the last decade, and the technique is still improving. For this reason, it’s not likely to be available on the NHS.
I have no problem with that – after all, how much do people spend on a luxury cruise, on cosmetic surgery, on a new kitchen or a car? Or perhaps on a painting or piece of china, come to that. I told the Sage, after I’d looked it up. “You can’t put a price on health” he said with the light of hope in his eyes. He’s so protective, you see, he hates it that he hasn’t been able to do anything to make me better. I’m not inclined to bother my doctor right now – I think the local surgery is probably quite busy enough with people asking about flu symptoms, but I will toddle along sometime in the next few months. It may not be suitable and it may be better done in a year or two, but I’m reasonably hopeful.