Sur­viv­ing a life on the auc­tion trail…

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

LAST WEEK marked SA’s first MasterCard Style in the City, a fash­ion ex­trav­a­ganza at Cape Town’s Water­front.

The glam gala din­ner that launched it (in heels, nat­u­rally) in­cluded TV make-over gu­rus Trinny and Susannah, swear­ing like sailors, call­ing every­one dar­ling, and en­chant­ing most of those who at­tended.

There was also a fash­ion show and an auc­tion of red dresses, each of which had been de­signed by a top tal­ent and mod­elled by a women’s mag­a­zine ed­i­tor.

Hap­pily, this in­cluded me. And while I’m un­der no il­lu­sion about any kind of mod­el­ling ca­reer, a girl’s got to get a thrill from swan­ning down a ramp in a scar­let Jac­ques Lagrange cre­ation that com­bines her two fash­ion fan­tasies: 1950s Ital­ian star­lets and Jes­sica Rab­bit, the an­i­mated vamp who mem­o­rably de­clared, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”.

Even more amaz­ing than the adrenalin-in­fused model mo­ment, com­plete with make-up artists, bright lights and bor­rowed di­a­monds, was the auc­tion.

It was for a noble cause – The Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion – but, un­usu­ally, I ap­plied fis­cal-and self­dis­ci­pline and re­sisted the urge to wave like a mad thing.

The late lamented she­been king Lucky Michaels once told me that he be­lieved every­one had the same num­ber of virtues and vices.

“Some of us con­cen­trate them and some spread them out,” he pro­nounced.

Praise the Lord, I’ve never had a prob­lem with crack, al­co­hol or gam­bling, but auc­tions...

Well, I’ve bid on ev­ery­thing from jew­ellery (great) to gilt ea­gle-framed mir­rors (I know, I know – at the very mo­ment when a trusted in­te­rior de­signer friend was hys­ter­i­cally mouthing “Don’t buy them, they’re hor­ri­ble!” the gavel fell and the mon­sters were mine).

At an auc­tion just af­ter that, I begged fel­low guests to check that I sat on my hands. It went wrong and next thing I knew, I’d bought… well, I wasn’t sure ex­actly what, but there it was… Sold to the con­fused looking lady in black!

My crown­ing mis­guided auc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence was the Fan­court Ball a few years ago. Fu­elled by two glasses of wine and a vat of party spirit, I placed the first bid on the first lot. Af­ter all, it was for a chil­dren’s char­ity.

Up for grabs and start­ing at R11 000: three months’ ac­cess to the re­sort’s renowned fair­ways.

I had no idea whether this was a good or a bad deal for golfers. But it turned out to be a par­tic­u­larly bad deal for me. An omi­nous si­lence de­scended.

“Whose bid was that?” the auc­tion­eer peered into the gloam­ing. A spot­light was trained on my stricken face.

“You don’t play golf,” he said, in­stantly in­tu­it­ing that I ac­tu­ally run away from ten­nis balls and have to be re­minded that tries, not goals, are scored in rugby. Then his eyes lit up, “Oh,” he said, “it’s for your hubby.”

Alas, no res­o­lu­tion there. I wasn’t mar­ried and even if I were I would never spend R11 000 on his golf.

In one of those night­mar­ish out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ences, I gave my­self a firm talk­ing to.

“You’ll have to bor­row from the bank. This will teach you not to be reck­less. Count your­self lucky it’s for a good cause.” But in a par­al­lel uni­verse, a cry es­caped.

“Some­body, please help!” I wailed. “I only did this for the chil­dren!”

And, mirac­u­lously, some­body did. Per­haps my gal­lant knight was hop­ing some­body would help him, too. It turned out that he didn’t need to pay for ac­cess; he was al­ready a Fan­court mem­ber.

So you won’t be sur­prised to hear that he drank heav­ily for the rest of the night and that he still hasn’t re­sponded to my thank you let­ter.

But on the off-chance that he’s read­ing this, I just want to say – gal­lant knight, it’s safe to get back into the wa­ter.

Hit the auc­tion trail! At­tend char­ity din­ners!

I’m not a dan­ger any more and you aren’t obliged to bid for a thing.

But just in case you’re feel­ing gen­er­ous, there’s a fab­u­lous red Jac­ques Lagrange dress… And it re­ally, re­ally is for a good cause.

Fen­ster is the ed­i­tor of the fash­ion and life­style mag­a­zine Glam­our.

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