One of the most pleasurable and public-spirited activities detectorists frequently engage in is the recovery of articles (especially finger rings) that have been lost by members of the public. It’s not something that our most vociferous detractors will ever mention, but then that’s understandable; they aren’t usually in the habit of commenting on the positive side of the hobby. Detecting clubs and individuals in the UK often provide a free recovery service – and the public is beginning to recognise that fact.
My story starts with a plaintive telephone call from Graham, one-time secretary of the local archaeological society and treasurer of the Old Town Residents’ Association, asking for help in finding an earring lost by his wife, Anne. He wanted to know how much Mrs. John and I would charge for trying to find it.
We soon put him right on that score, told him that our services were free, and arranged to call around the next day. Detectors were readied, boots blackened, probes polished and we were ready to go. All that activity proved to be just a rehearsal. In the morning we were greeted with a heavy covering of snow, so our mission was called off and arranged for another day.
A couple of weeks later, we tried again. Apart from a slight drizzle, the weather wasn’t too bad for digging. Anne explained that on the day she had lost the earring it had been quite windy. She had pegged clothes on the whirligig then did a little digging in the borders. Reading between the lines … the missing article could be almost anywhere in the garden!
It was 2013. Even then I was wobbly on my feet and quite decrepit so Mrs. John assigned me to search on the grass. The theory was that the missing ring would be on the surface and I wouldn’t have to do any digging. Meanwhile, she took a small trowel and systematically searched in soil where vegetables were due to be planted. There were loads of signals, but none were for the earring.
Also, there were many good signals in the lawn and although it was tempting I didn’t dig. After an hour or so I was beginning to tire. Not only that, at my age I need excitement, so after a short break I poked about in the borders and dug a couple of beeps that sounded promising.
After nearly two hours of searching I became aware of a few whoops and a dancing damsel in my periphery vision. Yes, Mrs. John had found the earring!
I rushed towards her (figuratively) gushed my congratulations and gave her a ‘Matt Hancock’ on the cheek. Ironically, it was an ‘eyes only’ find and metal detectors hadn’t been needed after all! If the truth were known I was so knackered and just about to suggest that we abandon the search. So, I was pleased on both scores. Nay, ecstatic! A grateful Anne was also very pleased!
We retired indoors and Anne made a welcome coffee. It was during the conversation that Graham left and returned with a bottle of Rioja (that he forced upon me) and a number of coins he wanted me to see …
What were the coins? Find out next time.