No, I’m not slapping the RSC today; I can’t guarantee I won’t do it again at a later date, though.
Late last night, after cursing the RSC, I found an email from eBay informing me that my credit card was expiring soon. “Yes, I know,” I answered. But eBay had brought itself to my attention so I thought I might have a look to see if I could get a new FP (no, I won’t tell you what it is!). I am not a regular eBay trawler. I have ‘one’ sale under my belt: last summer I sold a perfectly good handbag for not very much money (but, then, it wasn’t a very expensive handbag in the first place). I was beside myself with delight. My gain was Oxfam’s loss, of course. I know that charity shops have complained that they’re getting fewer donations these days (I thought I was keeping their shops open all by myself), but I also know they’ve got in on the act and making more money that way, so I don’t feel so guilty about depriving them of that handbag. As for buying, I managed to get two items in the past few months. The funny thing about it was that I used a sniping service (free trial) and got very excited when the machine placed the ‘one and only’ bid three seconds before the end of each auction.
I’ve been to a couple of ‘real’ auctions in the past. Years ago, when I was still at school in Nice. I was mad about Art Nouveau and, luckily for me, no one else appreciated it at the time, so I got what I bid for. It was very exciting, but even then I knew instinctively it had nothing to do with ‘winning’ and everything to do with being prepared to fork out more money for the item than anyone else in the room. My father loved auctions: he used to buy bails of haberdashery stuff for his business (when he was still making raincoats himself). Buttons, sewing material, etc., from factories that had gone bust. As a little girl, I used to be given anything that he couldn’t use, like masses of skeins of soie floche, for instance (no idea what that is in English, but it’s beautiful) or literally kilos of those tiny tiny beads that cost so much in the shops these days. Auctions were synonymous with ‘fun’. And they still are for millions of people. For my part, I’ve grown up and become a cautious, frugal adult, so the word has acquired an element of danger, and, since I’m not a natural gambler, I don’t relish it at all.
I went through pages and pages of listings last night. Isn’t eBay the most wonderful time-wasting device? This time I used two snipers and set them to place bids two seconds from each other. It looks like I will be bidding against myself and I’m curious to see exactly what happens in such a case. However, since I’m not prepared to pay a lot of money for that particular FP (it’s driving you crazy, isn’t it?), I will probably be outbid long before the end of the auction.
I’m slapping eBay for reminding me that it existed and for fooling people into thinking they’ve ‘won’ stuff. I’m also slapping those people who get so carried away that they practically bankrupt themselves. The expression ‘winning an auction’ should be banned from the vocabulary. Slap!
Update: FP was for Fountain Pen! As I expected, I was outbid. This is what someone else... won... no, paid a lot more than me for.
Up-update: the pen turned out to be a fake. I've had a narrow escape.