Monday, 18 May 2015
A conflict of interests
The spinning wheel photo says a little about what I have had on my mind recently, as my late friend A was a real craftswoman, and spun, wove, did needlework, made hedgerow baskets, and other creative things besides. There are two spinning wheels going to auction from her house clearance, and I have taken a bag full of weaving stuff - 2 looms in pieces, as well as a home-made peg loom, which I am trying to sell on her behalf. I purchased her little home-made Inkle-style loom which I have yet to get to grips with (no time) and was given two bags of unwashed fleece - a soft brown which could be Alpaca as it is so soft and fine, and a Leicester Long Wool (I think). I want to get back to spinning again and this is a good kick in the pants for me. I also purchased her craft lamp as mine was very broken having fallen over several times and the lens was held in place with a grip-tie! My broken one has now gone for recycling.
I have been up helping her daughter to box things up to go to auction, and to advise which things are better pieces and should go to a different auction, which to the charity shops and which to the tip. I have also bought some small bits myself, but have felt I had a conflict of interests as I am in business and need to buy at sensible prices (trying to keep at a level I would pay in auction) but I also wanted to give the best price possible for her family's sake. I didn't like to feel I was taking advantage and profiting from A's death. Some of the items we bought had woodworm, so needed treating and couldn't have gone to auction anyway, and at least she has had a firm price - you never know what will happen at auction, and vendors have to pay a seller's premium, as well as paying a hefty fee to have the stuff transported to the auction.
Matters have not been helped by a neighbour who seemed to see me as out to feather my own nest and said as much. He was at our elbows as A's daughter went through each room, and the atmosphere was absolutely poisonous! He used to upset A too, with what he said, so I think he is something of a control freak (he went through EVERY sack of stuff we were sending to the tip - mainly damaged bed linen, old "useful" cardboard and paper - that sort of thing.) He was even lurking when we were going through A's socks and knickers drawers! For heaven's sake! Each day when he left the atmosphere lightened totally and we felt we were able to get on with things so much better.
Anyway, I hope that the time and advice I have given have been beneficial - well, I know A's lass was SO GLAD to have me at her side when we opened a wardrobe and 70 years' worth of family bedlinen teetered towards us! I thought A's daughter was going to do a runner . . . it really was a tad overwhelming. A didn't like to throw anything away, and I think there were so many memories attached to the things she had hung on to.
I have purchased A's living room mirror, which reminds me SO MUCH of her, and I feel I have her near me which is a comfort. It is in the Art Nouveau style, but dated later in the Edwardian period. It has been slavered in once-white paint (probably back in the 1960s) but is wooden underneath, so we must laboriously remove all this paint. Not an overnight job and it will take an entire can of paint-stripper and more besides. This would have gone against it in auction as dealers don't usually want stuff which needs work, and mirrors aren't that popular either. I offered to bid on it in auction, but A's daughter wouldn't hear of it and accepted my offer which I believe was a bit more than it would have made in auction.
Then there were the things I had given A as presents in the last year of her life. Because I was being given them back, I felt as if I had only loaned them to her - which was a horrid feeling. These little flowers were part of her birthday gift, although her daughter has kept the pretty Deco jug they were in as she said her mum loved it so much and couldn't stop talking about it.
When we were clearing her bedroom, I noticed an embroidery I had done from one of the Diary of a Country Lady x-stitch books of beautiful charts - it was a dragonfly on a white water-lily. I was touched that she had not only kept it all those years - I think I did it about 12 years ago, after her husband had died - but hung it in her bedroom. That is now hanging on a wall here now and I brought it home with mixed emotions.
I have offered to come and share the cleaning when the house has been emptied, and also to tidy up in the garden. It is an hour's journey each time (about a 60 mile round trip) so all this has taken big chunks of our time in recent weeks (OH came last week to help move some big stuff).
I discovered the strangest thing whilst I was doing some family history research for A in the months before her death. One branch of the family came from Devon, and I worked very hard to try and trace them back from London, to a village of origin. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I found out that they hailed from the next village to the one my dad's male side of the family came from - just think, my folk and her folk might well have known one another as they were living cheek by jowl at the same period in time.
So there we are, a big dose of up close and personal today. I was in two minds about writing it in case anyone who knew A recognizes her from my writing. I really hope that I have not "taken advantage" as that very unpleasant neighbour seemed to think, but it is a thin line to walk and at no time did I set out to benefit from A's death. Had he not been involved, I would not have worried at all but he has upset me greatly.