We've just started to dip our toes into the murky pond of French auctions! I thought you might be interested in how these work so............
The house auction!
The house sales go like this:- auctioneer turns up 1/2 hour late, can't find the keys then can't open the door. No time for viewing so everyone tries to peer in through the windows (Steve is 6'3" so we have an advantage over the short French). She and her minions are in the house, all buyers are out in street dodging the traffic.
She then starts to bring out individual lots of linen and "smalls". On your first purchase they hand you the goods and you give them a signed blank cheque. After that, all your buys are added to the same cheque. A now mounting pile of boxes is gathering by your feet and you're looking for something to buy that you can stand on to give you any chance of seeing what you're bidding on.
After the smalls comes the big stuff, you may need to remind her what you can see through window or you can ask if there is a such-and-such in the house as you're looking for one. After this the house is opened for viewing and you are invited to put lots together to give her to auction. You're now looking for something to buy that you can sit on.
Once that's all done and dusted she auctions off the rest of the contents for anyone brave enough to clear the carp out as well. As soon as that's done its a free for all into the tiniest of little French cottages to try to get out the furniture you've bought through a mass of other people doing the same.
The sale room auctions.
The sale room auction goes like this:- the auctioneer turns up 20 minutes late and p*ssed as a fart. There is no catalogue or running order. She starts with the top table items and books, for some reason these are very amusing and produce lots of giggles between herself and the porters. She reads the full print history of each book in a lot of 10 and even reads some passages from it. If this wasn't the start of the auction you'd be losing the will to live! She brings out something vile plastic and bright green which no-one wants to bid on, she adds something similar in yellow and still no-one wants to bid so she puts them to one side. Payment is the same as for a house auction.
She picks up the thing you're waiting to bid on and immediately puts it down again. She goes through some badly chipped China and not very artful art glass, picks up the item you're waiting for and puts it down again. Now there are 20 boxes of linen to get through. You really are losing the will to live now.
Sobering up slightly, she picks up the green thing again which still no-one wants with or without a yellow thing. Spotting more serious bidders entering the room she moves on to the cabinets with the Lalique and Chanel perfume bottles in as well as some dodgy looking Faberge and costume jewellery. The only thing left on the table is the item you wanted to bid on. Finally the cabinet is empty and she returns to the table. Please god someone buy the green thing even if you only throw it away afterwards! She picks the elusive wanted item up looks to the crowd and turns round and puts it back down again!!
She finds 20 boxes of old towels, where did they come from!? They weren't in the viewing? Luckily old towels seem to sell really quickly and we whip through these lots without any trouble. She picks the green thing up AGAIN! Still no-one wants it, she looks around and picks up the desired item and adds it to the green lot!! NOOOOOOOO!!! So we bid, win the desired item and have to take the green thing too, much to the relief and amusement of everyone else in the room.
5 hours of your life have just been lost and yet, as with many new experiences, you somehow feel your life has been enriched by having come through this like a rite of passage.