I can sort of read Sheffield's recent past like a tarot, divining how I should live my life from those echoes. I know that sounds weird, but I can and it works.
Anyway, I was right...
Firstly, out of the blue came the offer of a Citadel Giant.
Then came something much better (yes, there is something even better)
Cue tinkling harp and shimmering scenery as we go back to 43 years ago...
I was 6 and ensconced in a cold and somewhat drab school of Victorian vintage. I was, even then a strong reader and devoured books. Janet and John books were great when you had to 'be like the other kids' but I was into the outre, even at 6, with a sordid habit for Richard Scarry and Charles Schultz.
Then, one morning we received a new batch of books for the reading corner, and amongst the usual mundane tat, I spied a copy of a book titled 'The Church Cat Abroad' and another 'The Church Mice And The Moon'.
Back at my desk, I read them, and lost myself in the awesome illustrations which accompanied Graham Oakley's wry tales of s collection of mice who lived in a crumbling vestry with a reformed cat by the name of Sampson.
This is where I am certain I first found enlightenment and an awakening of the world artistic. yes, even at that tender age I was acutely aware of what the hallmarks of a bloody good illustration were. Over the years, I read and re-read the books, understanding the mature and wry wit, hidden in the glorious paintings and in the stories themselves.
My daughter was given the books and I read them to her. She in turn is doing the same with her own sons. The power of those books is still voodoo-like more than 4 decades later.
And so, you may imagine my shock to find that an original piece of artwork from 'The Church Cat Abroad' was up for auction, along with a signed copy of the very book. I chatted with my good lady, and threw in a massive advance bid, and waited for the auction. Today, I was informed that I had won that piece, and in what I consider to be a miracle, it cost me a mere fraction of my top end bid, to the point that I had to rub my eyes.
You may be suffering from a sense of deja vu...
To be able to own some of the artwork which changed how I looked at the world around me, has me soaring on an adrenalin high.
But, what made it even better was when I received my receipt about an hour ago, and I saw that the seller was not another collector but none other than Graham Oakley, himself.
Words escape me to describe my joy in a meaningful way.
I am as you may imagine, sipping a sherry, and celebrating another dream fulfilled.