Tag Archives: parasites

Reflections on the Vicissitudes of Life

It can be hard work being a collector. Apart from the searching, the accumulation of knowledge and the scraping together of cash (there is never enough of it, and your spending is never sufficiently concealed from your wife), there is the feeling that the universe is heaping more trials on your head.

I just bid on five lots in auction. I got none. In two cases I sent in speculative bids so this wasn’t a surprise. In one case I found some interesting information that wasn’t in the catalogue, but so, it seems, did someone else, as they outbid me. In two cases, where the lots went for approximately four times the estimate, I was left scratching my head. I know that estimates generally have little bearing on the eventual price of the item, and had bid double estimate. But for them to go for double my bid? I am left bemused by the world and feel, as mentioned, that the Universe is having  a laugh.

I’m not altogether in favour of auctioneers.

Auctioneers used to take a percentage off the sellers as payment. About 30 years ago they also started taking a percentage off the bidders. That percentage now seems to have risen to around 25%. So, for providing premises, “expertise” (which varies, and is mainly guesswork and breezy overconfidence) and photographs on the internet, the auctioneer gets around 50% of the value of the item.

And to cap it all, when they sell something for many times the estimate, they advertise it as a success. If I estimate something to be worth £100 and it turned out to be worth £10,000, I’d be embarrassed at my lack of expertise. But every week you see auctioneers in the Antiques Trade Gazette boasting of their “success” at doing similar things.

Don’t get me wrong, I like auctioneers. They are cheery and entertaining (in the main) and life would be poorer without them, as would daytime TV. However, there are, I assume, specialists in leeches, and they presumably feel cheered and entertained when looking at a jar of blood-gorged slimy parasites.

Just saying . . .

The picture is from our last wet and depressing trip to Stoke. It mirrors my current mood.


Day 171

We had an interesting day in the shop.

When I arrived a young woman pulled up next to me and said hello. This is unusual. All was explained when she said she was there to do the survey, though I had been expecting her at 11.00 rather than just before 9.00.

It turns out that the oner had mis-read the letter. There was an energy efficiency survey at 9.00 and an agents survey at 11.00. Both featured young women who measured us up using laser measures. I just looked them up, they are only about £20. If I ever want to measure a shop I now know how to do it. I expect you get what you pay for.

Strangely, none of them wanted to know about the damaged front door (the owner still hasn’t fixed up the front door properly despite it being several years since the burglary) or the damp coming from next door. Like all property owners he wants maximum rent and minimum effort. And like all letting agents the second agent wants most commission for least work.

It feels like I’m a massive sea creature, attacked by sharks on one side and having my life’s blood sucked by parasites on the other. And I’m not even the owner!

In the afternoon we had an interesting man with a small accumulation of coins. He walked out with £700 and a smile on his face. He has just sold his house and bought a river cruiser with the full radio set-up for going to sea. He is planning on living on the boat with his wife  (with outgoings considerably cheaper than current rates and stuff) and cruising the rivers when he feels like a holiday. Seems like a good plan. I’ve been looking at boats tonight. Another dream . . .

. . . chugging along a river with wildlife and fishing and riverside pubs. I could mount an exercise bike on it and pretend I was pedalling along the river.

Dabchick, or Little Grebe