Gingerly fingering the paddle, I took my seat. I'd been to my fair share of auctions here, but today was something special – I needed to buy something in particular. It hadn't had pride of place in the catalogue but I knew that I couldn't be the only one to have spotted it – you couldn't be in the trade and not see the value there.
I glanced around. Lots of familiar faces but no one I recognised from the conventions. They were the auction house regulars. People who stopped in week to week. Some of them were fairly serious buyers, some fair-weather shoppers and a few who came in just to pass the time. I nodded greetings to some of the other bidders, not trusting my voice to hide the excitement -and the nerves - I felt.
UncleBen in the corner stood chatting idly with Suzi, Dom and Jocelyn. They always traded pleasantries beforehand but wouldn't let manners get in the way of a good bidding war, should the need arise. Amylee was making a fuss of the auction house cat – something of a good-luck ritual. The cat himself had taken the most comfortable spot he could find. Today it was atop one of pair of Victorian armchairs which made up an early lot. Nobody minded – he never did any harm and he was known to pull in the punters, often more than the Merchandise did.
Then someone called Peter, who happened to be the auctioneer, finally took to the rostrum.
“Step Right Up – paddles at the ready. You all know how we do this here so let's get on with it. Lot 1, first item of the day: This Guitar is For Sale. Once owned by the great Bobby Bare, we've no reserve but some interest online. I can start the bidding at £70. Any interest in the room? Yes, the gentleman at the back. Eighty?... I have eighty online. Ninety? I'll take eighty-five? No? Then I'll let it go cheap... Sold at eighty.”
I recognised the guy who had just got a Bargain – Phillip. I was quite pleased for him – he had a bit of a thing for guitars and it was probably going to find a respectable place in his collection. I might have chanced a bid on it myself had the inebriated chap next to me not demanded my attention .
“She Wants to Sell My Monkey”, someone announced loudly, pointing to his embarrassed wife. On and on he went on about how she was determined to sell his monkey. I missed a vintage coffee pot, a couple of vases and a dinner service as he rambled on.
Things got a little noisy in the auction house. Raising his gavel, the auctioneer announced:
“I'm Waiting for the Man in the third row to be quite please,” before the man's wife eventually dragged her husband out of the auction room. Fortunately the missed opportunities were A Piss in the Ocean compared to the amount of porcelain and china left to go. Someone had cleaned out the local Thrift Shop and put it all up for sale.
Throwing a few bids out I won a lot or two. Cheap items just to throw Stephen, Ravi and Vanwolf off the scent. They were nice guys but I didn't want them getting wise to what I was really after. I'd driven the price up on a couple of lots they'd been chasing a week back and had started to think they might try and get their own back.
I perused the catalogue once again – not to see if I'd missed anything, I'd been through it a dozen times – but to give off an aura of nonchalance. A few obscure text-books came and went: Why Cats Paint – A theory of feline aesthetics; Bombproof your Horse and Politics of the Sneaker Pimps among the most unusual examples.
I dropped out of bidding early on an antique chair made by master carpenter Wyngate. A couple of online bidders from Canada and Australia were driving the price higher and higher. At the last minute Mr Jeffries threw himself in and snatched the lot from under their noses. I wasn't surprised as we knew he was a man of taste, but it hadn't gone cheap.
I made up for it on the next lot though. A print of Joelle's Twilight Larks. I'd got lucky as the day was drawing on and more than half of the initial crowd had disappeared, taking their wares and leaving all else behind. Pushing my luck I put in a bid on a collection of Viz cartoons: a beagle flying a hot air balloon called Skydog7, a wizard captioned “the Magicman” and something that looked like Oz's Tin Man, but was was outbid by Mr Nosuchzoné
I watched as a Little Man in the corner bought up a stack of clothes that really belonged in a Jumble Sale. They didn't really have any value and to be honest I was just glad he dominated the bidding as a few more weary souls drifted out the door. My lot was approaching and the less competition the better.
“And finally lot 135, what do I see for it? I have twenty online. Twenty-two? Twenty-two... Twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty...” Peter spieled off the numbers one after the other. I could barely believe it. My breath caught, so many hands were raised. I just had to go for it.
“Forty-five?” My hand shot up “Forty five, I have fifty, fifty-five ...” a man in a Sweet Home Alabama T-shirt was the last one bidding against me. “Sixty? Sixty... sixty-five.?” I nodded. “Seventy?” He shook his head. “Going once... going twice... sold for sixty-five.”
I let out a happy clap. I'd done it, brand new in box. I'd bought The Red Corvette. I could add it to my collection and for only £65. I saw at the side Shiv, Tarquin, Altra and Mr Mhor chatting and shaking their heads, one definitely mouthed “paid too much” but who cares? It's not like I could have got a real one for that money.
Auction A-list Playlist:
Fugazi – Merchandise
Tom Waits – Step Right Up
Bobby Bare – This Guitar is For Sale
The Who – Bargain
Junior Wells – She Wants To Sell My Monkey
The Velvet Underground – I'm Waiting for the Man
Conflict – A Piss in the Ocean
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop
Public Enemy – Politics of the Sneaker Pimps
Alan Jackson – Little Man
Jake Thackray – Jumble Sale
John McCutcheon – The Red Corvette
Bargain B-list Playlist:
Memphis Minnie - I'm Selling My Pork Chops (But Giving My Gravy Away)
Ronnie Spektor -Try Some, Buy Some
Lambchop – Paperback Bible
Mississippi Sheiks – Sales Tax
The Streets – Let's Push Things Forward
Loudon Wainwright III – Cash For Clunkers
The Saints – Know Your Product
Antidote – Punkrock for Sale
The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Up for Sale
Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go
Sammy Davis Jr. - Plop Plop Fizz Fizz
Weird Al Yankovic - Ebay
Mischief Brew - Bury Me in Analog
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Special offer! Going for a song – about sales, selling and bargains. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.