Of olive oil and inflatable sheep all trebly grand
Friday night saw another brilliant pre-Christmas bash at the Mahurangi West Hall.
In recent years there have been some absolute Christmas crackers:
- The year Dermot Kelly demonstrated he was still the master of the sing-along guitar, in spite loss of a fingering fingertip to a log splitter some 12 months earlier.
- The year that the auction originated! Where the most outrageous prices paid for the meanest offerings brought the greatest delight in the retelling.
Friday night’s format reflected lessons learned at earlier functions. First up was the annual general meeting. Started early and sufficiently short and sweet for those who arrived just as soon as work and groceries permitted to find not even standing room inside, and were spared to shelter in the lee of the lovingly-restored former schoolhouse, basking in the warmth of the hall barbecue—BYO at maximum BTU.
Food was next. A veritable Christmas dinner assembled from a totally random bring-a-plates, most of which were soon picked clean.
And the legendary auction.
It started decidedly unconvincingly; the auctioneer attempting to extract maximum dollar from the meagre items initially selected. It appeared problematic as to whether Alex Rodgers’ voice would last long enough to dint the pile of donated delights atop a groaning desk, also donated.
But auction delirium soon kicked in driven by a combination of generosity, deep pockets and the auctioneer quickly learning whom he could pit against whom for the most lucrative and ludicrous offer.
For some time it seemed that an inflatable sheep, complete with orifice auxiliary to that provided for inflation—we know this only because an assistant unsuccessfully attempted to, well, inflate the product that way—topped the schedule for sheer obscenity of price, if nothing else. Except that, latter, inflated prices were also paid for three more of these lambs, in their un-inflated state.
Greg Payne recorded, in legally intimidating detail, every successful bid on the ‘named and shamed’ white board.
Well on in the process, Greg’s call for a calculator was perfectly calculated to whip the auction room to new heights—Gareth Owston-Doyle and his cell phone brought the news that we’d raised well over two thousand dollars.
Still to be offered up, and all stainless steel and alloy, was what was once the most barbecue that money could buy. When bidding stalled, a recess was called while the beauty was brought in from the cold—a mission in itself, because while it was a Tonka compared to today’s big boys toys, it still weighed a ton and threatened to crush the throng that had spent the evening barracking from the hall’s now nicely match-lined foyer.
With the impeccable pedigree of the appliance now centre stage—no one should have doubted that Bob and Sue Stevenson’s contribution would be other than as formidable as Bob’s ferocious bidding—Alex worked his magic, and the punters’ madness, and we were knock, knock, knocking on three thousand dollars.
There it might have stood, but for the solitary remaining bottle of Jill and Mike Brice’s olive oil.
The shortfall on $3000, Gareth’s cell phone informed us, was $89.00.
Which, of course, was the price paid by one of Mahurangi West’s finest, Kathi Smith, for a bottle of Mahurangi West’s finest, ‘298’.
My delight, apart from spending an outrageous evening with neighbours from Windy Ridge, the Pukapuka, Jamieson and Ōpahi bays, Te Muri, and all points in between, was to score a Two Dollar Shop picture frame for my delighted grand niece Caitlin, for a mere twenty.
And that, of course is how we can improve on the event for next year.
We put out the call for more contributions of things the children hanker for—the anticipation in Caitlin’s eyes as she looked to where I sincerely trusted her mum was stationed with trusty camera, drove my bid—and we have us the ‘Christmas Party Stocking Stuffer Auction’.
So, please consider this the first such call:
Only 365 shopping (or better yet, collecting/creating) days to the Christmas Party Stocking Stuffer Auction.
And a decent mallet for Alex to knock down the items, and with which to periodically threaten the rowdy lot in the foyer.
Very, very well done Alex, Mahurangi West Hall and Reserve Incorporated, the community and visitors.
See also Battle for the Mont’s Trees