Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sometimes You Have To Get Out.

Taking outrageous advantage of my physical condition - the Med 3 was a testament to truth and honesty: ' fractured fifth metatarsal,' words rendering work, but not hobble-walking, impossible, I found time in my otherwise barren table to visit the car auction to try my hand (if not my foot) at bidding for a new car.

I've done this before, but not for years and never in such a fragile and incapacitated state. The words: "Watch your feet gentlemen," took on a whole new meaning to me as the cars were driven with world class carelessness into the selling bays, forcing the loud voiced, tobacco puffing, flat cap wearing, Glasses-guide toting not so honest John-boys who hang around the entrance looking like wrecked doormen, to suck in their bellys and their chins. And for me to draw my gimpy foot inwards and protect it like a wounded puppy.

I hung out with the dealers, or rather, half in half out with them, eschewing the fair weather and half hearted buyers in the seated area and skulked around the real business end with my new mates who must have regarded me, if at all, as an oddity - scruffy enough to be one of them but too tentative around the cars and next to no rapport with the auctioneers. I stuck it out in the place where it's at, close to the merchandise, the proximity of which allows you to sniff the oil burn, check the paintwork gouges, and the odometers - have a real shuftie before the bidding starts.

As my car entered, my car, the one I decided was going to be mine, ( how I pitied everyone else, I was taking this one to my ceiling, what chance did the others have with their greedy,wet dreamy, future rip off, mark ups), I nearly did go in for a little unplanned flat toe stylising such was my reckless, breathless enthusiasm. I seemed to abandon all ideas of safety and forgotten the terrible trouble I'd have been in if further foot injury had placed me there, at that moment, amongst this 1970s cast of cigar-butted Daleys and Delboys and half a million nearly news parping into the January car bid wars, instead of being at home with my foot up and puzzling over the Telegraph crossword.

No matter. The car and I rolled the crowd and our luck and got in together before bidding began. I had sussed the auctioneer's system, the turn taking scheme. Two main men and a posse of backroomers recruited to alert their heroes of anyone's bidding they might miss. They're on commission and to miss a bid is bad news for everyone. It's fast and it's furious. Two announcers. One was playing the game and spoke clearly: "four thousand, one, four thousand two, two fifty, three, four thousand three fifty, three fifty three fifty three fifty once, twice sold!"
The other belonged to the let's see how obscurely I can do this school, and favoured something like: "Biddlediddlebiddlediddlebiddlediddlebiddle! Annnnddddddd...... biddlediddlebiddlediddlebiddlebiddlediddle! Once! Biddlediddle. Twice! Sold it's yours!"
"Yeah but how much have I just paid?" Nightmare. Clarity sacrificed for the sake of exaggerated role play. I could have predicted which auctioneer I'd get. But to be fair there was a certain poetry, a certain rhythm to his delivery his more workman-like colleague lacked. A Circero of gentle chivying, an orator grown mad on a daily cocktail of carbon monoxide and centre stage expectation. Quite compelling stuff really. And I understood him enough to seal a deal.
All went well. New car sat outside, foot and wallet now resting.

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