While my Redwood Holdings Secondhand Shop in Maun, Botswana, was still in operation, I decided to help augment the stock by becoming an auctioneer. I have always loved attending auctions, looking for bargains, especially building materials for the homes I have built.
Anyone that knows me would find the idea of me being an auctioneer ridiculously funny as I am notoriously slow, both in thought and in word. However, in a small town with no auctioneers at all, I could be the fastest…
On enquiry, I found it necessary to travel to Gaborone to apply for a licence. I drove to Francistown, 500km east of Maun, then caught the train overnight to the Botswana capital, Gaborone, nearly the same distance to the south. My application meeting was to be in the conference room of a hotel there at 09h00. A few other business licence applicants appeared at intervals and the interviews eventually got under way.
Finally, it was my turn to face some dozen government employees to answer their questions.
On hearing that I was from Maun, one enquired where I had spent the night.
“The Long Hotel,” I replied. This brought a puzzled silence.
“And where is that,” someone asked, eventually.
“The train from Francistown,” was my answer, which had them all laughing, and, except for one more question, my licence was a shoo-in.
“But we Motswanas do not buy secondhand goods, so who will attend these auctions of yours?” One imperious lady enquired. I explained that poor folk could not afford new stuff and that my little shop was doing a brisk trade. I did not mention that there was even a market for secondhand underpants!
Most of my auctions were held at the Maun Sec Maintenance Unit’s yard where I had my office at the high school, often helping the school get rid of its redundant furniture, lockers, etc. Sometimes I held them at the residences of leaving ex-pats and all were reasonably attended. Fortunately most of the patrons were honest wellmeaning folk, so that when I, the auctioneer, went into a brief coma, they would kindly remind me where we had got to with the bidding.