The December auction of James and Sons took place at the Maids Head Hotel, Norwich yesterday. As the person running the company database it was a particularly full-on day for me, and I have decided to take you through it in chronological order:
5:45AM: Left the flat to be sure of being at bus station in time for 6:00 bus to Norwich (although the sale does not being until 10, with my responsibilities it is mandatory that I be at the auction venue by 8 at the latest and this is the last bus that will enable me to do that)
7:35AM: Bus arrives at Norwich bus station bang on schedule (not even a British bus company can contrive to be running late at this stage of the morning) and I head straight but unhurriedly for the Maids Head Hotel.
7:45AM: Arrive at the hotel and find my way to the Erpingham Room where I will be based for the next few hours.
8:30AM: By this stage the setup and layout are complete and viewers are starting to arrive. My computer is set up in a location that ensures that no punters will have access to confidential information and the internet connection is working, although it will still be necessary to phone the shop in Fakenham every time someone wants to pay by card as the connection does not extend to our portable card reader. Before attending to my own specific tasks I print out a listing of commssion bids that have been registered online via http://www.the-saleroom.com. Between the information on the registrants page of http://www.the-saleroom.com and the written and printed records of bids received in advance I am able to ensure that my database is as up to date as it can be before the auction starts.
10:00AM: Kick off, and the auction starts with a bang as lot 1 sells for £130 against an estimate of £50. This is the occasion for the first of various live tweets I manage to post in between doing the work I am paid for.
The lots come and go very fast, and it is significantly before 11 that the first lot I am interested in, number 171, two postcards of East Rudham and West Raynham churches goes under the hammer. I stick in a bid but then realise I am up against the proprietor of Lynn Gold and recognising that he has much greater financial firepower decide not to bother contesting further.
After 250 lots the auctioneer takes a brief break and I have my first problem of the day, when instead of printing out an invoice as I require my computer wants to print out the entire Auction Form record (fortunately I am able to cancel the job before a single page has been wasted). I resolve the problem by the tried and tested if unscientific method of closing the database down and reopening, and as it happens there will be no further technical malfunctions that day.
Approx 12:30PM: We have now been through 500 lots, and are about to move on to coins and banknotes, with militaria, ephemera and some misecllaneous items still to come. This is a sensible point at which to take a 15 minute break, as planned by the auctioneer. Lot 441 in the meantime had been knocked down to me for £12.
A combination of the speed at which auctioneer David is getting through the lots and the frequency with which I have to produce invoices causes me to fall behind, but with only two room bidders other than myself still left this is not actually as serious an issue as it feels at the time.
14:18PM: Lot 786, the last item in the sale goes under the hammer.
14:40PM: The clear-up is complete and I take my leave. A call at the Glasshouse just down the road for some liquid refreshment and a visit to the library (which I regard as a must when I am in Norwich) mean that I end up on the 16:40 bus back to King’s Lynn. The front of the bus provides a sight I have not previously been treated to: although we are in Norwich and the bus is terminating at King’s Lynn the intermediate destinations listed are those between Peterborough and King’s Lynn! This causes a degree of confusion among my fellow passengers, especially those travelling to intermediate destinations, as you might imagine.
It is just a shade under thirteen hours after setting off in the morning that I finally arrive back at the flat. Come Dine With Me via 4OD followed by Strictly on iplayer complete the day. It was semi-finals week on the latter, meaning that each couple had two dances to perform. The best was saved till last as Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev produced the routine that finally persuaded Craig to flourish the 10 paddle.
I have a few pictures for you…