Politics has become a fairly ugly word in recent times, but it can create interest for the auction world, as we have just seen with the sale of items belonging to the late PM Harold Wilson. The sale came a year after the death of his wife, Mary, at the age of 102. A notable poet and confidante of the much-loved Poet Laureate John Betjeman, Lady Wilson was also a judge of the Booker Prize, so no slouch she.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the Wilsons’ lives, as unveiled by many of the lots on offer in the sale, was just how ordinary they were in many ways for the leader of our country and his family. Of the 700 pieces on offer, Wilson’s trademark Gannex raincoat and pipe proved to be among the most sought after, with the latter taking a six-times-estimate £320. My favourite lot was the bottle of centenary HP Sauce made for the PM, which took £250.
Now, I understand, that the Wilsons’ bungalow in the Scilly Isles, where they spent many a happy holiday walking with packed lunches, is also up for sale. Devoid of luxury, it harks back to an era before the complex times we live in today.
The dispersal of the Wilsons’ rather simple and modest collection of belongings made me wistful in more ways than one.