The auction I’m holding in April is of a single collection, put together over several decades. I’m very happy that there’s an almost complete set of our auction catalogues, because Russell was fairly casual about keeping them and I haven’t got them all, by any means. I’ll scan them all before the sale – I’m not doing it now because they’re in a very cold, triple-locked strongroom and it’s after dinner on a Sunday night.
Weeza and Al were involved pretty much from the beginning. They were teenagers then. I think I must have left Ro with my mother, who lived next door in an annexe by that time. She always had a bottle of champagne and a plate of smoked salmon sandwiches in the fridge for us, which was lovely but we were too tired for. A cup of tea and a glass of whisky was more like it, before collapsing into bed. We enjoyed the champagne the next day – though we never told her, her feelings were easily hurt. To start with, Russell just had one sale a year but soon progressed to two, occasionally three.
He also did valuations and, when someone wanted to sell other items, he would help them place them, he was as busy with that as he wanted to be. We became involved in a lot of voluntary things in and around the village, but the auctions were great fun. What Russell most enjoyed was the personal contact with fellow enthusiasts. People used to write and thank him for sending a catalogue, or send apologies if they couldn’t make it to the sale. We aimed to keep a friendly, informal atmosphere with a professional service behind the scenes.
The last sale was held in June 2014. Russell didn’t want to stop, but Weeza and I put our foot down. No one knew he was so ill, but his voice wasn’t what it had been and nor was his concentration. And it would never have occurred to me, at that stage, that I’d want to start the auctions again, but there it is, I’m back in harness and glad to be.
As I said at the start, it was all begun when we were snowed in and the Sage discovered that he wanted to spend more time with his family. And I’m glad of that.