THE DAY OF THE SALE
The day of the sale if not bright at least dawned dry as the huge marque erected right against the house had the potential of serious flooding problems if we had some sort of downpour and in the days leading up to the auction we had experienced one deluge after another.
In anticipation of quite a few attending the auction I also had taken the precaution of having the septic tank emptied, especially as it hadn't been emptied for about 15 years or so – the last thing we needed was rainwater flooding in one end of the marquee and goodness knows what else from the other.
The “To the Auction” signs were in place. The caterers van had arrived good and early and was frying bacon for breakfast sandwiches. My gardener Darren had come along together with his brother in law Chris to direct the parking and help out with oddments.
Everyone else arrived good and early as well and the various systems were connected up and tested. They had already tested out each individual bit of equipment the day before to ensure there would be no hiccups. There was a huge blower fan for heating, lights, camera, all we needed now was action
Various dealers were poking and prodding about, neighbours were greeting one another. Furniture was turned upside down, and probably inside out where possible. It was about ten minutes to go before the auction commenced. Bells were run, announcements were being made in the various rooms and the sense of anticipation mounted.
The lights went out. Well not only the lights but everything else as well. This is a huge house so in fact has a total of five fuse boards. I thought that a light bulb from one of the extra halogen lights had probably popped and knocked out a trip switch, but normally that just meant one of the boards went down.
Now, I don't mind admitting I am useless in emergencies. I am not certain whether all us females are the same, or if I am an exception, but my brain seems to freeze, and no matter how many times I tell myself not to panic I feel like Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, when he rushes in every direction ordering everyone not to panic.
Very, very fortunately for me my brothers had arranged to come to give moral support on the day and physical support if necessary. Youngest brother Mike had actually come down the night before so was there and instantly on the case. He was a star. Whenever something disastrous happens I say “What I actually need here is a Mike” and that day I really did need a Mike. He shot round the various scattered fuse boards, but could make no sense of what had gone wrong
Now although the day had dawned dry, it had also dawned overcast and dull. We were well into November in fact it was very nearly December. Add to that two large marquees had been erected against the house windows, so you can imagine those folk who were trying to view were resorting to doing so by the light on their mobile phones.
Time went on. Without electric there would be no microphone for the auctioneers, no screen to show the lots being sold, no internet connection and no internet bidding, no computers to register the bidders or add up their bills. But the auction would have to go ahead come what may.
I was in the kitchen which abutted the main marquee and through the windows I could hear the auctioneer shouting out the presale announcements. I could hear more easily than normal as they had opened the windows when the electric went down in order to plug directly into the phone socket in the vain hope of getting some sort of internet connection. I did have a generator but no way was it going to power all the equipment that was needed run the auction, and in any case it was included as one of the early lots so could be sold and gone in an hour or two.
The auctioneer was explaining the problems but saying the sale was still going on. The lights came on. There was a rousing cheer from the audience. The lights went back off again.
The lights flickered again ..and then died.
My heart was in my mouth. Then suddenly everything burst back into life. I could have cried with relief as it was literally in the nick of time. There was another cheer from the audience, especially when the huge blower heater started up again. The tone of the auctioneer changed, as did its volume as his microphone sprung into life. The show was on the road.
Well nearly anyway. The emergency wires which had been re-routed direct to the internet outlet now had to be plugged in back to where they should be. Windows and doors were opened and closed. Folk were running in every direction, but the bidding was underway. And it went off like an express train as it would have to if over eleven hundred lots were to be knocked down before five o’clock that evening.
My brother came back into the kitchen looking almost haggard, but he had done the impossible for me. If we were a kissing family I would have kissed him – but we are the sort of family that when my other brother left for two years with the headhunting forest tribes in Papau New Guinea we all just said – Bye then, have a good time, and he got into the car and drove off.
So I just said "Thanks Mike - you're a star." But I really, really meant it. And the auctioneer said to me with great feeling after the sale. "I don't know how we would have managed without your brother"
The cause of the failure was that prior to the five fuse boards was a main fuse board where the incoming three phase electricty supply was split with each having its own 32 amp fuse. In between this main fuse board and the incoming power supply, totally unknown and untouched in the twenty five years I had lived here was a small solitary fuse box, where some benighted electrician had used another 32 amp fuse instead of the 100amp required. When every last piece of electrical equipment had been plugged in during that final ten minutes before the auction it had just burned out. Thank you God for Mike, and him being there that day.
Anyway back to the auction.....
The two auctioneers on the main rostrum took it in turns throughout the day. I had decided to stay in the kitchen, not sure how I might react to everyone asking me whether I minded parting with everything, as I was not really sure how I felt about it myself, and didn’t want to get all tearful at the twenty fifth response to the inevitable question. Plus one of the reasons for my selling up and leaving is that I don’t move about very well and can't stand for long periods. There were lots of friends, neighbours and acquaintances in attendance and I wouldn’t have liked anyone to have felt slighted or ignored had I not spoken to them after having greeted someone else. All in all I felt it best to stay in the kitchen out of the thick of it.
I had intended to follow the auction myself on the internet, but of course lots of folk guessed I would be in the kitchen and popped in anyway. But that was all for the best and in fact it wouldn't have been good for me to listen to the sale all the way through. Since then I have never actually looked through the paperwork to see which items sold for what as I have decided that is it water under the bridge, so is not worth wasting time and energy thinking about.
Suffice it to say the sale of the contents raised a sufficient sum for me to buy my “bus” which will be Phoebe's and my home for the foreseeable future.