Our local auction house is a fairly typical provincial auction save for the fact that it is actually four simultaneous auctions combined. We designate them the "Posh" (Mrs Rine's forte), the "House Clearance" (my speciality), the "Old Steadings" (mainly furniture, now moved from old cattle sheds into a custom new building) and the "Meadow". If you have items to bid on in different auctions it can mean scurrying between the various locations and making dramatic late entrances frantically waving like a character in the final scenes of a Hollywood classic. "Don't shut the Savings & Loan...!!!"
The "Meadow" is the Auction house name (rather than ours) for an area of open ground outside the main building. It isn't green and in fact it should only really deserve the name "Meadow" if prefaced by the qualifying adjective "post-apocalyptic". It looks like this:
It is the most quirky and "Norfolk" part of the auction and comprises a motley and bizarrely random selection of lots which are pored over on a Thursday afternoon by a motley and bizarrely random selection of potential bidders. An Office Chair, a galvanised tank, a chimney pot, a wine rack, six 9ft telegraph poles, a lawn mower, a unicycle.... the list is like a very odd edition of the Generation Game conveyor belt where the producer has had a mind storm. Where all this stuff comes from every week is anyone's guess.
Kicking (often quite literally) over the lots are the bidders, almost exclusively male and almost exclusively over 65 years old. They normally mooch along in little gangs of three and nod knowingly to each other over a set of tools or a tray of lobelias. A large galvanised bathtub will get them quite animated and they are certainly imaging themselves in "Last of the Summer Wine" despite the lack of hills in our lovely County. When they get to a chain saw it is inevitable that one of them will pick it up, pull the start cord several times and, when it bursts into life, grin with toothless satisfaction at his admiring fellows. You just know he has no intention of buying it.
I sit nonchalantly in the open cafe area sipping a latte with an air of patronising superiority before I disappear back into the House Clearance to rifle through the contents of somebody's old drawers.