‘Priceless’ find discovered by hens

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LUNCHTIMES are slump times in this house. John rolls in at midday on the dot and after cleaning up his meat, no veg and sack of potatoes lunchtime repast, retires to the snug with a pudding. Not me. Thence to doze quietly in front of Bargain Hunt, one of the many programmes devoted to buying, selling and valuing antiques and collectables.

Apparently this programme and its like, Flog It, Antiques Roadshow and Cash in the Attic, are also great favourites for inmates spending time at Her Majesties Pleasure. I always knew John had criminal tendencies. It is with scarcely disguised envy and a dose of healthy scepticism that we watch guileless members of the public producing carelessly wrapped objects from screwed up newspaper to see if ‘it’s worth anything’. They of course claim to have no idea at all. Despite probably several hours trawling for valuations on the internet.

But, my heart began to beat a little faster when we were out last night with friends for a bar meal, and from out of a plastic carrier bag, she produced an identically wrapped object in a parcel of old newspapers for our combined valuation.

The story went thus. These friends, Joan and Chris, live on a farm previously owned by other friends who were out with us, Pete and Tina.

Heavy snowfalls in December wreaked havoc on Joan and Chris’s farm buildings. Roofs on the hay barn, hen hut, stabling and a Dutch barn caved in under the weight of snow. Fortunately none of their livestock were injured but it has necessitated a huge clear up job and extensive rebuilding. In the course of this work, areas of the farmyard became exposed and dug up to allow for fresh foundations to be excavated.

“We had already gone over everything with metal detector just in case there was anything buried there.” Joan said. “Nothing of interest turned up but the hens had started scratting around and I noticed a gleam of brown glaze shining under the earth. Something half concealed in the mud.”

By now we could all scarcely conceal our excitement. Brown glaze. Didn’t we remember that funny little brown owl brought to an expert on the Antiques Road show that was worth a fortune. A piece of naïve pottery.

What could it be?

“I was really careful exposing the pot” Joan said “I didn’t want to damage it so I just tickled it out like you see the archaeologists do on Time Team.” Where would we all be without the TV? Obviously none of us have enough to do apart from watch the telly.

Breathlessly we watched her unwrap sheet after sheet. How fragile could it be? ‘Just wait’ we were told as we bombarded Joan with questions. The last wrappings were of tissue paper. Must be valuable, fragile and priceless we thought.

It was. A sturdy brown pencil pot carefully crafted and fired by the maker famous V. P. Pete and Tina’s daughter Victoria in Junior school. Something you could never put a price on.