Steady on!

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Dealer's Diary -

It was an evening sale just be­fore Christ­mas and noth­ing much was hap­pen­ing. The pub­lic weren’t milling around, for it was -2°C out in the yard. There were no in­ter­net bids flash­ing on the mon­i­tors – I ex­pect Ama­zon had re­placed Auc­tion­view in the na­tion’s web browsers. The Trade, weary from a dif­fi­cult year, weren’t hedg­ing bets by buy­ing be­fore Christ­mas. They there­fore weren’t in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a strong start to the New Year. That’s sig­nif­i­cant in the scheme of things, but not rel­e­vant to this story.

No, my story to­day re­volves around the auc­tion­eer and a rare lively mo­ment in an oth­er­wise quiet sale.

Back in the good old days, the auc­tion­eer was the star turn in any sale and their level of charisma and colour­ful pat­ter en­cour­aged bids. Re­mem­ber, happy peo­ple sell and happy peo­ple buy. The ad­vent of in­ter­net bid­ding has, for the most part, stemmed the flow of the colour­ful phrases, di­alect and ban­ter that were once part of the auc­tion­eer’s arse­nal. The style, choice of words and even the tone of the auc­tion­eer has changed to suit the anony­mous watcher and dis­tant click-bid­der. It’s all ho­moge­nous and ex­cep­tion­ally dull now as the as­sem­bled au­di­ence can no longer be ex­clu­sively cap­ti­vated.

No longer can a Skoda be rou­tinely re­ferred to as a ‘Whisky & Soda’. No longer can the auc­tion­eer bla­tantly take the mickey out of those stand­ing be­low the ros­trum or give nick­names to the reg­u­lars who bid in the shad­ows. The in­ter­net buyer doesn’t get the joke and is dis­tracted rather than amused. So­bri­ety is the new flam­boy­ancy.

Tonight, though, there was a rare mo­ment of old-fash­ioned spon­tane­ity when a Peu­geot 206 en­tered the ring. It was quite rou­tinely de­scribed by the auc­tion­eer as “A tidy thing…” As such, I took no real no­tice. But I was then tick­led to hear the auc­tion­eer fol­low this with “…a bit like the driver”.

I did a dou­ble-take and saw the auc­tion­eer give a cheeky wink to the jockey. What was go­ing on? These driv­ers are mis­er­able felons at the best of times. I dis­creetly edged over to the mis­fir­ing 206 to see a blonde driver be­hind the wheel. She was in­deed fairly de­scribed as ‘tidy.’

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