Last Friday was Crymych auction day – and the lots-of-money-little-sense committee were on an all members outing. The shopping channels saw a network drop in viewers. The sun was shining, the air was cool and aroma'd with essence of old furniture and bacon butty, and some bargains were bound to be got.
This was also a Beth and Mum outing. The kind where we stick a couple of fivers in our back pockets and come back with a boot full of random crap – like the days we decide to take the rubbish down the tip. :-)
I don't go often, so the characters were mostly new to me:
John the clock – a lovely seeming older bloke who buys, repairs, and sells clocks. Looks almost like you'd imagine John the clock to look, based on that description.
Unhelpful directions man (Mr Popty Ping). He gave me directions to the post office – a garbled mix of “big shop”, “Popty”, and “d'you know the Welsh word for microwave?” (I hadn't the heart to tell him that it's not actually true, and that the Welsh word for microwave is actually microdon, which I think sounds like a big, badass yet herbivorous dinosaur). I think he got excited at the sight of my tall, black top-hat. So I wandered up the road, looking for a shop called “Popty”, and asked a kind looking old lady who directed me to J.K Lewis (which has a Popty in it).
Mrs Moveover – her face was knotted in a permanent scowl as she constantly asked people to move out of her line of vision. I was sympathetic the first time, but by the 9th and 10th I thought maybe a place in the front would have been better suited for her. I accidentally lost her a lot when I walked in front of her with a cup of tea, while she was bidding. Oops. Hope she didn't really really really need that tea-pot.
Members of the committee:
The mad woman with the short dark hair. She's a mad woman, with short dark hair. Often bids against mum, and gets things for unreasonably high prices.
The mad blond woman. She's mad. She's blond. She's also mum's biggest nemesis. Other than that, they get along.
The horrible woman. She's horrible. Never have I seen someone annoy mum so much. Her aura of arrogance was taller and wider than she was – she was mostly wide. She flashed her card with the flourishes you'd imagine a posh snooty lady in Dabby-Abby uses to ring the bell for servants.
We were destined to pay well over the odds. We both had our notes on particular lots we'd spotted that took our fancy – mum wrote in her notebook and I took pretty photos to keep on my phone.
Once the bidding started it was clear that this was going South for bargains, and North for J.J.Morris's profit margin. The place was filled with sewing supplies and hippy velvet skirts and coats galore – as apparently an eccentric lady from Llechryd way had just sold her house. I had intended to buy some of the clothes and boots lots, and mum and I were going to be at war over the boots, but they all went to the mad woman with short dark hair and the mad blond woman. :-(
It came to some of the sewing lots in the back and mum had one – just one – lot that she really wanted. As everything she bid on started to fall into enemy hands, it was with total shock and great relief that mum got the one lot she wanted. It was a basket of cotton thread and surprisingly there was also a bit of leather thonging (if only I knew some re-enactors that would find it useful).
Then the bidding continued and it must have been the impending full moon that made bonkers bloom in the bidding room. Crockery and trinkets were going for ridiculous money.
Somebody managed to get themselves a set of 4 sandwich plates with a bright seagull design (tres Pembrokeshire) for the fabulous price of just five pounds. Not six seconds later had the young auction worker in charge of displaying everything picked up a vase and dropped it on the plates: vase intact, plates not so lucky. My little heart broke for those little blue plates.
Mum, in her excitement for getting her basket of threads, headed straight for the back to collect her winnings – so far, a forest green plaid skirt (which turned out to fit neither of us), said basket of threads, and a winter high viz coat for Tali. The auctioned continued in her absense.
I did a Beffy-Bigmac. As usual, if you take me to an auction, pray to the holy and the unholy that I don't remember your card number. I spotted the lot that I had a sort of “I like that and, if it goes for a couple of quid, I'll have that” feeling for. Only at this point, mum's nemesis had established herself well and truly on the bidding scene and the added “I will not let you take this off me” feeling settled next to the former sentiment. I wanted my little boxes and my little wooden elephants and I was going to have them. Maybe a tenner was a bit much to bid but I won! It turned out that the lot I'd bought was also the lot mum wanted and was upset she'd missed. Win-win.
And then the books disaster. I had my eye on a load of books – and mum said no one buys books any more, so it was a certain win for me. Unfortunately I got quite confused and they stopped doing the lots in numerical order. When I thought I was bidding on 400, I was actually bidding on 401. D-: Oh no! D-: Dread settled in when I realised I'd bought 401 for the grand sum of £2. The thing was, 400 was a lot of sociology and psychology books; with titles like “The New Men” and “The Second Sex”, I was determined to get my hands on it. Around it, however, were mostly vegan cookbooks. Nothing against Vegans. Nothing against cooking. I'm not a Vegan, and my cooking's just fine thank you. Luckily, it turned out to be some great Welsh history books – including Dylan Thomas in America. A stroke of luck, perhaps, just before Fishguard's Dylan Thomas weekend celebrations.
Now our bidding died down, and mum and I amused ourselves until the next lot we wanted by watching the lunatics bid like madmen for mugs. We made bets on which were going to be the most expensive lampshades. I could never have predicted that someone would happily bid £150 for a pair of matching lampshades until someone else bid £145 each for another pair! The gong almost touched £200 and a mixed lot of cheap buddha statues went for £40. What a larff!
Now it was fabrics and ribbons time and in comes horrible woman. All I can say is I hope she got RSI from overbidding. 202 hovered in the air, like a wasp above mum's head. Between about 15 lots, 202 must have spent in the hundreds, and mum made sure to bid her up each time – even when she didn't intend to win. Then came the breaking point – a box of bias binding that I knew had warmed mum's heart the moment she'd seen it. It came directly before a lot of denim jackets and scraps, and had I been in charge of bidding for the bias binding maybe a denim related disaster would have ruined out day I thought. I watched anxiously, I'd come back mid bidding after going out to get some bacon butties. I couldn't see mum but I could see Mrs 202, and even over the hot fat and onion smell of my bap came the reeking stench of entitlement.
The bidding was through on the box of bias binding. It was a bit like when we used to watch F1 racing and you always knew Michael Schumacher was going to win; it was just a question of who came in second.
The numbers were called.
Three. Nine. Four.
I almost cheered, and clapped, and fistpumped the air. BOOM! IN YOUR FACE!
Montoya had grabbed a surprise victory!
Mum came over to me. The triumph clear on her face. She had her bacon butty then said “I'm bored now, let's go home.”
We went to pay for our lots. Mum wasn't quite sure how much she'd bid in the heat of the moment. She got out her card to pay.
“I'll get this one, mum.”
On the way home we decided we'd need to get our story straight before talking to Dad.
If he asks, it was just a tenner. We were well shocked too. What a great bargain!
Receipts? No. We didn't grab receipts.