-The continuing diary of an accidental mother - Week 27.
"I have a story for you," said the Irish solicitor swilling a large brandy. "You'll like this."
Drink had been taken and it was getting on. Midnight stood in the corner with a raised fist - ready to strike. The establishment was a small Montmartre bistro, a short stroll up from the cemetery. The season was spring. Paris lay draped in unremitting showers and a chill wind rattled against the panes, as if the cemetery spirits had roused themselves and come a knocking.
"A plate," he continued. "This is a story about a Chinese plate bequeathed to me by my mother."
Our new acquaintance had sailed to Paris from Dublin to celebrate the latest exhibition opening of his flame haired aunt, the artist Patricia Poullain. She, a wonderfully talented lady heads a loyal and extraordinary family, one of whom is the Glam Rocker, hence my presence.
By this stage, the meal had long since ended. Most of the entourage had dispersed to their various hotels, but the solicitor, a confident raconteur piqued my interest. He told us he had kept the plate in his office safe, beneath a stack of legal documents for years.
"Years I forgot about it and then... "
A year or so back the crippled Irish economy had sent him in search of such things locked away for rainy days; i.e. old forgotten bank accounts with accrued interest, long lost share certificates, ripened policies and the Chinese plate.
'"Blue and white porcelain it was with three dragons on it. Not to my particular taste." The solicitor dusted it down, took a couple of snaps, "Inclusive of the hairline cracks," which he then sent to Sothebys in London for a professional valuation. Their response was positive and estimated it was worth circa 3,000 sterling.
"Three thousand sterling," noted the Solicitor and he nodded to the waitress to bring another round of brandies, "Not a sum to be sniffed at. I decided to submit it to one of Ireland's top auctioneers."
On the day of the auction, the solicitor stood at the back of the hall watching the proceedings. The bids, he recalled, came in steadily, easily reaching 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, five, 10 and 15,000.
At about the £20,000 mark, our friend noticed a couple of Chinese gentlemen sitting near the front of the room. There was he realised much interest in this plate. He crossed his fingers, praying it might increase its value tenfold and reach a price of £30,000. There was a lot of spending to be had in £30,000.
His fingers remained crossed until they ached for the bids continued, past £30,000, even £40,000. He loosened his tie at £50,000. At £60,000, he undid his top button and by £100,000, his shirt collar was damp.
He knew little or nothing about the provenance of the plate or how long it had been in his family. Still and all the bids continued, £150,000, £200,000, bids coming in from Hong Kong, London, Beijing.
As with everything, timing is crucial. The Chinese economy was mighty, compared with the devastated Irish one. If our dear friend the aolicitor had chosen to sell the plate 10 years previously perhaps it would have only gone for £3,000 but on that day, when the gavel struck the rostrum, it went for a grand total of £310,000.
The plate turned out to be dated from the Ming Dynasty, circa 1430 - one of two remaining pieces from that era. Its main use was in the serving of sweetmeats, desserts and fortune cookies.
"Quite a windfall," I said, "and quite a story."
"Yes," he agreed. "But that's not the end of it."
Less than a year later, flicking through a Sotheby catalogue, our dear old cousin (were we not all family now!) noticed his windfall plate. It had been put up for auction once again. This time the given valuation was more accurate and the plate sold for £2.5million.
Week 27: The Second Trimester Ends
This week marks the end of the second trimester. At 27 weeks your baby's lungs and nervous system are continuing to mature. Your baby's crown-to-rump length might have tripled since the 12 weeks mark. Not long now.
Vis a vis last week's post.
With a lot of emotional laundering, and ironing out of issues, the Glam Rocker and I made it through the week. We are if anything terribly honest, sometimes painfully so. There was much going on in both our lives and yet it was still less than a year we had known each other. Sometimes I think I understand this man and sometimes I think he understands me. Sometimes is hit and miss but better than never. Privately, we toasted to the year ahead, our unfolding adventure and to facing it, together.