Thursday, June 25, 2009

A good day yesterday, generally.

I got my thing at auction – Theo and Jenni’s wedding present, after two previous ideas had come to nothing. I had your message before I left the house, Dawn, and it added a spring to my step.

Auctioneers – you probably know this – print an estimate for each item in their catalogues, a range of prices (£8-£10, shall we say) in which they think the final bid will fall. It doesn’t commit anybody to anything; it’s just a guide.

In this case, I had to get my prize at or below the bottom rung of the estimate. Beyond that, it would be too dear. Yesterday’s auctioneer was either selling a great many things to bidders who weren’t present but had left bids (that’s common), or else she was withdrawing items which didn’t reach their reserve – the minimum price specified by the seller. Not all items have reserves. The bidder doesn’t know.

She would name a price, for item after item, and if she didn’t get a bid, instead of asking for a lower bid, she’d knock it down (a technical term) at that price, and move on. You don’t have to worry about her going to bed hungry – some items went to two or three times the top estimate. When my one came up, she named a price below the estimate, I bid – still below the estimate – and that was that. She knocked it down to me.

We’re terribly pleased with it; we could always give Theo and Jenni a food mixer.

You understood the situation with the charges aright, Tamar. I must have been unusually lucid. 25% was added to the amount I bid – that sum went straight into the auctioneer’s pocket. Then 17.5% was charged on that premium as value-added tax. The item itself was untaxed, presumably because of age or pre-ownership. The auctioneer will have charged the seller a percentage of the hammer price, as well.

Now that that considerable anxiety has been resolved, it is time to make and start executing a final list: shoes, tights, hair, restraining undergarment, US currency, jacket.

On top of that success, the weather was good (and is so again today) so the external painting is moving on at a fair clip; and I lined up a remorselessly efficient local woman to clean the Strathardle house before Helen gets here.

And as for knitting, here’s the Princess, with 7 ¼ repeats of the top edging left to go. I wonder if Penelope, after Odysseus came home and disposed of her suitors, went back and finished that tapestry?


  1. The picture of the almost finished Princess is tantalizing - I don't know how you can even look at the games sweater.

  2. Anonymous4:15 PM

    I too have always wondered about Penelope's tapestry. Did she finish it, or did she undo it once more with glee and start something fresh?
    -- Gretchen

  3. =Tamar4:55 PM

    Oh, the tension mounts even more now that the end is literally in sight.

    It still seems weird and strangely unfair to have to pay a tax on someone else's commission when you don't have to pay on the item.

    Wasn't the tapestry intended to be a ritual burial cloth? Once he came back, it wasn't needed. I've read a theory that it was woven on a warp-weighted vertical loom so unweaving could be done by removing the weights and just shoving the woven part down off the ends. Otherwise it would have taken longer than the weaving did.