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Archive for August, 2015

Beasts and Bidders

The Auction

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HundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandaGunston!

The understandable introduction of “Do I have thirty, thirty, thirty? Start me off with twenty, fifteen, ten?” disappears in the crescendo of his hypnotic alien talk.

I try and focus on the task at hand.

“You take pictures of the bidders in action”, the cheeky (but cute) Argentinian consultant tells me.

In an auction-induced-trans I stalk around the pavilion of seats and aim my lens at unsuspecting visitors, searching for elusive buyers. The packed audience all stare solemnly ahead. I follow the stare. The prancing prize is NOT the team behind the loud pedestal, but a beast. I read somewhere that the slightest eye contact can cost you a few. The bull is the focus until he becomes the object of desire. Only then, dare you look at the auctioneer. Weird sport.

Camera ready; finger hovering; I wait. I listen, but can’t decipher, and I wait more. Taking photos of interesting shapes and sizes of noses and ears, as I wait. The secret of any spy documentary –THAT moment.

HundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandaGunston!

“YES” and an assistant’s arm shoots up to point somewhere above and behind me. I swirl around. Nothing, but dead pan faces and mannequin poses. Not a stir. I squint.

I wait. The droning continues with more zest. I wait. HundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandaGunston!

Now alert, I scan the faces either side of the pavilion. Caps and glasses hide the eyes, pens hang between lips and fingers tap a picture of the beast, waiting to write up the number and the price of the (missed?) opportunity.

Not a single movement.

The hammer hovers.

“Going for the first…. the second….the third time”. Bang.

Ruffling of papers and murmurs over the loudspeaker. The team looks up – an unfamiliar buyer.

“Can we have your number, please sir?”

This is a numbers game. I love numbers, but this one makes no sense.

Behind me a white square eagerly shoots up.

“Thank you number 47, Sir!”

Finally. A glimpse of the mysterious Gunston guy. Not at all what I expected, but nonetheless, I snap away while the action continues.

Action means a wink, a nose rub, a squiff smile or an unnoticeable nod.

And HundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandaGunston!

Now that I know where the main bidder is I keep him under surveillance.

I notice the conspiracy between him and his accomplice; hardly detectable conversations and pointing at the catalogue. Then a chewing of a pen and a tilt of the head that sends the auctioneer into another pitch:

HundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandaGunston!

I slip behind the seated sides and try capturing the bidding from another angle. Sneaking my lens between heads and shoulders, I find Gunston. His focus is on another beast of magnificence. His accomplice’s finger tapping on a picture, also avoiding the team behind the loudspeaker.

HundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandaGunston!

The babble is reaching a crescendo and still not a movement from Gunston. I look for other signs of communication. Nothing. Hardly breathing. Neither am I, in anticipation.

“Are you all done? Going for the first…. the second…. are you sure, sir? Are you ALL DONE SIR? Going for the third time!”. Bang.

I swing in the direction the auction team is looking. Another satisfied beaming face, but not Gunston. GUNSTON? AREYOUDONESIR? Alien talk suddenly becomes comprehensible. There is no Gunston.

Hundredardreeeeejandeendaadjayandareyoudonesir?

I giggle.

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