“Here he comes,” Edna said to her daughter as the shows presenter came their way, stopping now and again to talk to people waiting in the queue. “I wonder if he’ll talk to us?” Edna could hardly hide the excitement for finally managing to get long to one of the shows.
“Oh mum,” Lindsey said, “There are hundreds in the queue, so build your hopes up.”
Edna and her Lindsey had been waiting in the queue for some time. Edna clutched her small parcel to her leg each time they moved forward in the queue. When they were not moving she left it on the floor. In truth it was too heavy for her, but she wasn’t going to hand it over to anyone until they got inside the hall and spoke to one of the assessors.
“Hello there, and what have you brought with you today?” The presenter was right bedside them, and to Edna’s delight had stopped to talk to them. She was pleased she’d dressed up a bit, just in case she should get interviewed on camera. The cameras were right behind Edward Allens, the programme’s presenter and anchor man.
“Oh, hello, Edward,” Edna beamed at him, “Oh it’s just an old painting that’s been in our spare room for the last ten years or so.”
“Lovely,” said Edward, the presenter, “Well be sure to get a good valuation on it wont you.” He moved on down the queue.
“Oh isn’t he a gentleman,” Edna said.
“Mum, he’s a bit smarmy, and wasn’t really interested in us at all. Look he’s moved in on that overdressed blond back there now. Mutton… , if you ask me, but clearly to his taste. I’d heard he was a bit of a ladies man,” Lindsey was a bit bored by this time. She had only agreed to drive her mum to the show and stay with her as neither of her sisters were going to do anything.
“Don’t be so negative, Lindsey,” Edna chided her. “We’re having a nice day out, and we might get on the telly. Not only that this picture your Nan gave us before she died could be worth a mint.” Edna laughed at her joke. She had no illusions that the painting she as carrying was worth anything. She had simply come along to the show for the experience, and maybe to get five minutes of fame on the box.
“If it’s worth more than the tatty old frame that it’s in I’ll eat my hat,” Lindsey told her mum.
“So you won’t want a share of the loot?” Edna asked.
“Well, you can buy me a cuppa if you get a bob or two for it,” Lindsey laughed at her joke now.
“Now that sounds like a good idea,” Edna rummaged in her purse. “Here, take this and go find us a cuppa each. You might even have enough for a biscuit there too.”
Edna gave the loose change to Lindsey and sent her off to the refreshment tent that had been set up outside the hall. As soon as she had gone she struck up a conversation with the couple behind her.
“So what are you bringing along?” she asked interestedly.
“We think it’s a piece of Lalique,” the woman of the couple said. “We had it valued a little while back and it’s worth a bob or two, so we’re hoping to get a good valuation her today on camera and then sell it at auction.”
“Oh, how wonderful,” Edna said “I’ve just got an old painting that’s been on our spare room wall for years. i’m not sure it’ll be worth anything, but it’s all an experience isn’t it?”
“It is a bit of fun, isn’t it?” the man said, “And never mind if it’s not worth anything, at least you’ve had a day out,”
Edna wasn’t sure if he was being friendly or condescending, but chose to go for the former option. “Yes, my daughter brought me over here. It’s a lovely place isn’t it?”
“It really is,” the woman enthused. “We came her last week to have a look around, as soon as we knew the programme was coming here. We thought that if we’d already seen the great hall we’d be able to concentrate on the show instead of be seen gawping around in the background.”
Lindsey suddenly appeared back at her mum’s side.
“Here she is now.” Edna took one of the cups of tea from Lindsey. Smiling she turned back round to face the front.
A few minutes later they were at the registration desk. Edna carefully took her painting out of the newspaper and brown paper wrapping that she’d bought it to the show in.
The woman on the desk gave it a quick look over, then gave Edna a piece of paper with details of to whom she as to go for a proper valuation. Moving through the hall Edna and Lindsey joined another queue to wait in line to see the paintings expert, Michael Bentham.
Edna’s painting was uncovered now and she felt a little self conscious of it as people gave it a glance , or a longer stare as they passed. Once or twice people had pointed. Edna was worried she had made a big mistake and that she was going to be made a fool of, and maybe on television too.
Finally Edna’s painting was taken from her and put on an easel for Michael to see it more clearly. Edna was given a seat beside her picture and Lindsey stood behind.
“Do you mind if we film this valuation?” one of the production staff asked Edna.
“No of course not,” Edna smiled bravely at the young woman. “But can I change my mind later?”
“Yes of course, but most people are happy with the filming, and I think you may be too,” The girl smiled at her conspiratorially and winked.
“Hello, I’ve just been told your name’s Edna. are you happy for me to call you Edna on camera” Michael asked.
“It’s my name so of course not.” Edna was a little anxious now. “And this here is my daughter, Lindsey she said grabbing at Lindsey’s hand behind her.
“I’m guessing you’re a bit nervous.” Michael smiled openly at Edna and then at Lindsey. “You’ve no reason to be. It’s lovely painting.”
“OK, three, two, one, rolling,” the cameraman said.
“Can you tell me where you’ve been hiding this lovely painting?” Michael asked her.
“It’s been hanging in our spare room for as long as I can remember,” Edna started, “And before that it was in my mum’s attic. She didn’t like it at all.”
“Do you like it?” Michael followed up. He was hoping to make Edna more at ease.
“I guess so, but not crazy about it. It’s a bit too dotty for me.”
“Ah, but that’s its beauty. It’s all in the detail. This beautiful dottiness as you call it lends the painting incredible detail. It’s known as pointillism.”
“Oh yes?” Edna replied.
“Oh yes. It has such beautiful detail. Each of these dots is exquisite.”
“Exquisite?” Edna questioned.
“Oh yes, you see all this background here it’s masterfully created and adds a great deal to the depth of the painting.”
“Oh yes,” Edna said. She tuned out a little bit as Michael continued to talk about the painting effusively.
“So now we come to the most important detail, the value,” Michael said the words Edna was waiting for. “Would you be surprised if I told you it was worth a few hundred pounds?”
“Oh, lovely, what a surprise.” Edna said happily.
“Well would you be surprised if I told you it was worth a few thousand pounds?” Michael reassessed his estimate.
“Oh goodness no, A few thousand. That would be a surprise.”
“Well it’s not worth a few thousand…” Michael began. Edna’s face dropped slightly. “…it’s worth much more than that. Edna we ar talking hundreds of thousands. I can’t believe what you have here, this is one of the lost paintings of one of the most important pointillists of all time. It really is wonderful.”
“Hundreds of thousands, you’re joking.” Edna couldn’t believe what Michael had said.
“Not at all. it is worth at least three to four hundred thousand pounds, or maybe even double that.”
“Oh my gosh,” Edna said, “Oh my gosh.”