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There she was, at the auction. An elderly lady, complete with wrinkled, 500 denier California Tan stockings and two large handbags, one of which had a jolly Burberry design (and complimenting plastic trim), the other was tartan. Although only 4ft 8″ tall, the elderly lady had a well honed skill of somehow always being in the way. With a stuffed handbag either side, she was as wide as she was tall (or small, depending how you look at it:-)). She could engulf a whole aisle with her diminutive self and her bags, and she did, quite often, too often in fact. Maybe she was a twin and worked in cahoots with her sister, for wherever I turned, the elderly lady blocked the way.

I went up one aisle, saw her, stopped halfway and retreated to find route b. When navigating route b, there she was again, motionless and expressionless, bags akimbo. The elderly lady was oblivious to the traffic jam she was causing. People were huffing and puffing as they encountered her… time and again. Bless her, she wandered around at about 1mph, completely disinterested in the furniture and her surroundings. At one point, whilst leaning on piece of furniture to check my list and lot numbers, she somehow managed to block the auctioneer’s view of my bidding hand. All this time, the elderly lady was unaware of the mayhem that she was causing.

Once I’d spent up, I paid the auction house and decided to take a few items home with me. It’s always a bit stressful, because the auction is still going on, it’s busy, tight for space and there are other people still bidding or moving their items.

Hubby and I grabbed the retro bureau we’d bought. It’s got those sticky-out legs, typical of 60’s/70’s furniture. The easiest way of carrying it was to have it waist height, on its back, with feet facing forward; that way we could get up close to it, without it banging our legs as we shuffled along. We carefully made our way outside, breathed a sigh of relief because we’d made it through the narrow bits and the hustle and bustle, and then proceeded on our way, with plenty of room to manoeuvre (or so we thought).

We made it past a carelessly discarded trolley, a mountain of cardboard and were well on our way to the van. Before we knew it, there she was, the elderly lady. She appeared from nowhere. She’d stopped to sort out her wrinkled stockings, which at this point were in danger of falling down all together. Unfortunately, as she bent down, we were approaching from behind with the bureau legs pointing towards her. That dear old lady has absolutely no idea how close she came to being anally assaulted by a retro bureau leg. Even more unfortunate was the location where this near miss took place (outside the snack van, which was very busy with punters). The auction world and his wife witnessed the incident and all found it hilarious. Even the sombre junior auctioneer was laughing.

I do wonder if the elderly lady has a brother. There’s an elderly gentleman who frequents another of my auction haunts. The auction house has only a small car-park; it’s big enough for about a dozen or so vehicles. The gentleman in question arrives early at the auction, no doubt to get a ring side seat. He drives into the car-park, which at this point has just one or two cars in it, and he then drifts to a halt. He leaves his modest Ford Fiesta in the middle of the car-park, on a diagonal and slowly emerges from his car. It’s quite astonishing, how one small vehicle can somehow block an entire car-park. The elderly gentleman has no manners and he’s grumpy. He walk with sticks and pushes his way past people in the auction house, where he very carefully inspects each and every item for a long time.

On one particularly busy day, the auctioneer lost his cool with the elderly gentleman, pointing out that in all the time he’d frequented the auction, he’d blocked everyone in/out the car-park on a weekly basis, but had not once made a single purchase. It made no difference and the shameless elderly gentleman still turns up, week after week for his entertainment.

If nothing else, auctions do have a habit of attracting the weird and the wonderful, and I’m not just talking about the furniture!

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