Right, I've composed myself, picked up the major bits of the vase, ascertained they do not all fit together in seamless jigsaw, called a London china restorer, ascertained it will cost in excess of the face value of the vase to restore it, swept up the splinters and chucked the whole lot in the wheelie bin outside.
Well honestly! Surely they should have bolted it down in some manner. Or told me that the windows were locked.
So, do I a) do a runner? Or b) offer to work for free until I've paid off the £895. Or they might do it at cost. They must charge at least 50% commission, so I should get away with paying half, which is £447.50. At £8.50 an hour (for that, Adam says, is the salary for this highly skilled job), working three days a week times 6 hours = 18 hours a week, it will take me approximately 2.925 weeks. So by the end of my third week, I'll be in profit! Minus petrol money. So, roughly breaking even.
Will do honourable thing. Will own up. Will offer services free for three weeks. Very mature attitude. You see, simply by getting up and out of the house in the morning, and dressing up in my new TK Maxx asymmetrical cardigan and New Look jeans, polishing my boots (although it looks as though I might have used black polish on my brown boots, but never mind) and applying some make up (oh God! Did I wipe off the smudged mascara? Was waiting for eyelashes to dry so didn't further smudge it. Hang on. Nip to loo. No. I did not wipe off the smudged mascara. Am now doing so. Oh God! What was I thinking of with the concealer?), you face the world in a calm, professional manner.
Oh God! There's Adam's car! Quick, put the dustpan and brush away.
'How's it going, Eliza?' he says, breezing into the gallery. 'Are you finding your way around?'
'Fine, in fact, brilliantly! I've sold a vase! Raw Essence!'
'Well done you!' His face lights up. I've noticed there are no red dots or blank walls or empty plinths, apart from that which recently held Raw Essence, so this is probably his first sale of the exhibition. 'I shouldn't say this until I've seen the other woman,' he continues, 'but I'm impressed. And I'm not easily impressed. I'm going to offer you the job!'
He comes over and shakes my hand. Then, looking at the empty plinth, he adds, 'How did you manage it?'
'Well you see I was trying to open the window...'
He looks at the windows and then back at me, confused. 'What?'
'Oh sorry, how did I manage, er...?'
'To sell the vase.'
'Ohh...! Well this woman said she wanted a centrepiece for her table and her dining room sounded incredibly grand, all done out in biscuit and ecru, and she was studying all the vases and I just said, Raw Essence is the one. If I had the money, I'd buy it like a shot. I said I wouldn't hold back, because the artist is absolutely going places. This will cost you double in a year's time.'
'You've certainly got the patter, madam!' says Adam. 'Did she pay by cheque or credit card?'
'Ah. Well actually, she's... um... taken it on appro - if that's OK. We used to do it in London all the time. You know, people have to see it in situ.'
His eager smile fades. 'So she hasn't actually bought it then?' And then, in an urgent tone, 'You did get her details?'
'Oh yes, don't worry about that. It turns out her daughter's at the Manor - which is where my daughter's at school - so she's not going to do a runner!'
He seems mollified, if a little po-faced considering his earlier bonhomie. Now, how am I going to get him agree to give the buyer a 50% discount for cash? Well, I have a few days' grace while she sees whether it fits in her dining room, or whether the raw stoneware clashes with the ecru tableware.