12 November 1999



DUE to a rainy, gale-lashed night, our conservatory needed some urgent repairs, before the onset of winter.

The conservatory-cum-utility room is a drop-off point for boots on wet days. My name for the place is "Wellington Docks".

I was returning from the builders merchant, after placing an order for some new corrugated perspex sheets, and collecting a large pane of glass, which I had bought to replace the broken window, and as I turned into the yard, I could see we had company. My husband Tom was in a jovial conversation with a tallish, mature gentleman who stood by a large estate car.

"A rep," seemed to click through my mind, but I was driving cautiously, concentrating on the fragile cargo, propped precariously on the back seat of the car.

It was a fresh sunny morning and after parking the car I walked over to join them. I was stunned. Propped along the side of his car, and against our garden wall were some beautiful oil paintings – still life, scenic, bygone years, galleons and animals. The fellow was a fine art dealer.

Feeling a bit sceptical, I thought, "dealer!"; but then I became magnetised. His wares were superb.

The family in turn came and looked and enjoyed the surprise of such fine material decorating the yard. They browsed a while and then returned to their more serious work, relating to the farm.

Tom, the fine arts dealer, and I chatted about his work, and how he made his living, and also about our work, and how we made our living; a bit of politics and a general Euro-grouse.

Then returning to his job of making a sale, the art dealer reached into his vehicle and produced another beautifully framed picture. This one was very different, two spitfires flying over Beachy Head Lighthouse. The aeroplane in the foreground was bearing the letters LDB. The rolling downs, and the towering cliffs, a mist on the horizon, and a calm blue sea, all complemented the location.

I was instantly charmed by this painting. "Forever England," I said, and felt an overwhelming desire to purchase this picture.

I said I would love to purchase this painting but at the moment I could not pay him, as my savings were invested at Lytham St Annes, in Premium Bonds.

"Oh, that is no problem, my dear," he replied, "You can give me a forward-dated cheque, for 12 months ahead. I will leave the painting with you and I will return to see if you are still happy with the purchase, before I cash your cheque."

Well! Here I am, filling in my Premium Bonds withdrawal form. My agreement day of purchase is now looming. I am relinquishing my 500 chances to become a millionaire every month.

My painting of Douglas Baders Spitfire, flying over Beachy Head in 1940, hangs on the wall at the top of the stairs. I never pass by it, without getting pleasure from the most impulsive purchase of my life.

Evelyn Mycock

See more