Last week I noticed that there was to be a town and country auction sale in Newcastle, and went along to the view, something I haven’t done for years. Mostly it was junk on offer, but there were a few good items, especially a Georgian corner cupboard with a such a low estimate that I was tempted to buy it even though I don’t have a spare corner.
However, a little mandolin caught my eye, modestly lurking under a battered box containing a gas mask and a folded flag. It was described in the list as ‘distressed’ so I examined it to ascertain exactly how unhappy it was. There was a string missing, and some of the inlay, but all the ivory-handled pegs were there, and the tortoiseshell and mother of pearl inlay was otherwise intact. In short, it was a beautiful object, so I bought it for peanuts.
The music shop in the city centre arcade, Window’s, has a string specialist who can sort it out, and said it was a very good buy. So now it will go to a loving home: my son has a significant birthday coming up, and as he plays all sorts of stringed instruments apart from a mandolin, he’ll have an original present.