ALL DUE respect to the Duke of Devonshire's drawings but I felt ever so slightly queasy at the news that Christie's had pulled in a record-breaking £20 million plus.
The drawings had already been regarded as over-valued at ES million by the British Museum. It's not that I begrudge the Duke his £20 million, or whatever he gets when Christie's have their rakeoff; I'm sure I'd be dancing a Highland jig had the drawings been mine.
For the life of me, I don't know why, but I feel there is something almost obscene when the price of anything reaches the realms of unreality. I feel exactly the same about those beautiful horses like Shergar or Secreto or El Gran Senor, when I'm told they're worth £20, £30, £40 minion. The city of Naples, I read, went carnival the other day when £5 million was paid for an Argentinian footballer, it all makes me feel the world is being pumped up like a balloon and I'm waiting fo it to go POP!
I heard the Christie's sale being reported on radio and, would you believe, when the man with the hammer announced the grand total, there was applause. I've heard applause at charity auctions, which is understandable; but who were they applauding here? Themselves, for spending so much, or the auctioneer for collecting so much? I expect to go into my supermarket some day soon and hear the owner call for silence and announce.
"Ladies and Gentleman, have just sold Mrs Mulligan two pounds of carrots for 499 guineas!" Wild applause from all round the shelves and a great rattling of trolleys.