The Gumtree Experience

I have participated in the Gumtree* experience several times – bouts of advertisement for unwanted household goods and the subsequent responses. I have come to some conclusions:

a. Paid advertisement is fine if you can have any positive expectation of response. Household goods in a tough market do not provide this – therefore cheap or free advertisement is the wisest thing.

b. On-site advertisements, such as the garage sale posters, are pointless unless you live at the off ramp of the busiest street of the town. Otherwise no-one knows you have anything for sale.

c. Realistic pricing is the key to success. Allow for 10% haggling because there are people who would argue over the price of a new postage stamp with the Postmaster General.

d. You will meet time-wasters, chiselers, and tyre kickers. Hopefully all at once, so that you can set them upon each other. Otherwise just grip your underwear from the inside and usher them out.

e. You will also meet fair customers. Treat them fairly.

f. If you essay to sell something, ask yourself whether it is really worth buying. If not, bin it and regard the dignity that you save as your profit.

g. Regard everything that you do offer as merely trade goods – not mementos, dear possessions, or treasures. If the stuff was any of this, it would still be on your shelves. See it gone with the cheerfulness of a merchant – not the sadness of a collector.

h. Let no-one denigrate your goods. If they’ve come to see them, they are worth seeing.

i. Punctually update or remove old advertisements.

j. Deal only at the front of the house, and with the sound of hearty companionship heard from the back room.

k. No cheques. No promises. No PayPal or offers to transfer money on the mobile phone. Government money in hand. And count it.

l. ” Where did you get this? ” is a fair question…for a magistrate or police officer to ask. Answer them instantly and honestly. Everyone else must be contented with a smile and a blessing.

m. ” Can I bring it back if I don’t like it? ” is also a fair question, and you should give a polite answer. ” No ” is perfectly polite.

n. If something works, make it work before any money changes hands. If something doesn’t work, state that fact clearly in the hearing of witnesses. If it was never meant to work, make that perfectly clear to the buyer.

o. If there’s more than one person in a buying team, address yourself to one only – do all your dealings with that person. Do not let them split your attention.

If there are two or more buying teams, let them look at each other uneasily and offer higher prices. Do not declare the sale finished until you have actual money actually in your actual hand. And the hand has closed tightly.

p. Give gifts occasionally. You can shift a lot of appallingly awkward shit if you make a gift of it. Be kind and ruthless.

*  Free local online selling site.

 

 

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The Last Mango In Manangatang

We all watched the Last Tango In Paris to see what Marlon Brando looked like having anal sex. As usual, he looked like he was half asleep. That was his acting style, and, for all we might have known, his anal sex style. For that matter, he may have been half-asleep in Spotlight buying discount wool. We’ll never know now.

Closer to home, and with the windows open to clear the smell, we have the Australian Cooperative Coalition Of People Who Want To Get Government Money To Prance. They have taken over from the previous acting and entertainment grants organisations in an effort to consolidate the gimmee industry. Since a couple of the previous lot went on to star in Hollywood movies and coroner’s reports the new organisation wants to emulate their success. They are prepared to accept any legal currency, as long as they do not have to do anything useful for it.

Of course, they may have to prime the pump a little, though pump priming in today’s climate of sexual harassment suits is a delicate matter. Still, a little goes a long way and they can always deny it later. And have the suit dry cleaned.

The real danger is always the accountants employed by the political parties – whomever is in power, pump priming is always looked on with disdain by their opposition, and anything that can be found to discredit the pumpers will eventually be trotted out on the floor of Parliament under privilege. No-one dare whisper it outside the House or Senate for fear of circling lawyers, but reputations can be smirched in Hansard with impunity.

Actually, I have an ambition to have my reputation smirched, but not by Marlon Brando.

Warning: Trigger Language.

The heading image is heavy rain falling from a grey morning sky somewhere on the North Atlantic in 1944 – as observed from the conning tower of a surfaced German U-boat.

Here is a second image with an added element: an RCAF Bristol Bolingbroke patrol bomber. It is painted all white underneath and the fitters have deliberately left the British red/white/blue roundels off the wings.

Notice that the only things you can see clearly are the anti-icing boots on the front of wings and horizontal stablisers? And if the wheels were up, you’d not even be able to see the tyres? And the airplane would be able to bring your death by machine gun or depth charge out of the rain all the more easily?

Here’s a picture of the Bolingbroke with the landing light on, coming back from the mission later in the day. Not a great deal more visibility, but at least there is something..

I post this, not warn U-boat crews to be more vigilant, but to warn drivers of white, silver, or light grey motor vehicles along Perth’s freeways in the winter rains.

IF YOU DON’T TURN ON YOUR FUCKING HEADLIGHTS YOU ARE INVISIBLE!

Death can find you at the Armadale Road turnoff just as easily as it can find you off Iceland. Death is looking for stupid people right now – people who are stupid enough to travel at high speed in the rain with no lights.

Turn on your lights.

I’d Have Joined The Amish, But I Couldn’t Get The Batteries

The business of being a super-hero is a popular thing these days – from the mainstream Superman, Batman, and Spiderman to the more esoteric Tick, Dog Welder, or Squirrel Girl – everyone has a secret desire to don a suit and fight crime. Actually, some of the suits are a crime, but that is something I’ll leave to Edna Mode to sort out.

In my case I have to adapt my ambitions to my resources. I have not got big muscles or eyes that send out laser rays  – not even the ability to cloud men’s minds with a hypnotic gesture. The best I can do is grin and bear it and get revenge later. ( Revengeman? The Nemesis?  Schadenfreuder? All possibilities…) I need to reduce the idea of super to a manageable commodity.

I can write. That I’ll admit to. It was not always thus, and I daresay it will go again one day, but right now I can spit out copy like a teenager regurgitating pizza. I can fight crime and injustice by writing biting little articles and slipping them under the doors of the guilty. Or I can slip them onto WordPress and hope that the veiled references are going to work.  I regret that no-one will let me near the keyboard controls of the scoreboard at the sports stadium…

Or I could promote myself as The Backstabber. I’ve been the head of the Backstabber’s Guild of Australia for decades and there is no-one more qualified than I to tell your friends exactly what I found out about you with one simple credit check. I wonder if I could have a super-hero costume with a cape?

No, Edna? Well, you’re  the boss. Not too tight around the shorts, please – I have no ambitions.

CatskillMan? Only if I can work with a snare drummer at the supper show. Tish-boom…Try the veal.

Oh, Candida

In honour of the Dominion Day a’coming, I have written a little song that can be played and sung at school assemblies. It is perfectly suitable for Edmonton and Ottawa.

Oh, Candida

 

Oh, Candida, the home of native scams.

True, reasonably patriotic love, if that’s not too strong a word, in all our non-gender specific citizens command. Well, not command as such, but suggest, eh?

With glowing bongs we see thee rise, Trudeau’s North stoned and twee.

From far and wide, we stand aside, we stand aside for thee. Sorry.

God keep us all, even Quebec…

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.

 

Sorry.

 

Hunting Wabbits

Heheheheheheh.

I like to stalk big game, and there is no bigger game than other photographers at car shows. Particularly the professional ones.

It can be dangerous sport. You get a person who has been up for 27 of the last 24 hours carrying a tripod, two cameras, three flashes, and a half-eaten sesame seed health bar and you’ve got a wounded creature. No knowing which way they’ll break and when they charge it is all over in a flash. Either they savage you or they fall over and go to sleep.

This car show I found two of them in the wild; John and Brad. Brad was focussing his Canon so hard on the general crowd he didn’t even notice when I took $ 20 out of his pocket. He’d been going at it pretty solid for days in an effort to get all the cars covered for publication. I hope he wasn’t counting on that $ 20 for food.

John, on the other hand, was easier to find as he had girls around him. I think he had them in tow for artistic purposes. The first stand I saw him swoop on was the Japanese Mooneyes exhibitors. They were bemused but took it in stride. Next time they’ll be faster to scramble out of the way.

As there were more girls – a lot more girls – in the pin-up and promotion business at the show I’ll bet he was busy for the rest of the day.

The smaller game – the amateur shooters who were trying to get the cars on their DSLR, mirror-less, and compact cameras – I left alone. They were doing their best to cope with the crowds* and the light but very few of them were making the most of their opportunities ( apart from the scrum around John with the girls ). Most failed to use flash even if they had it as pop-up on their cameras and I am willing to bet 99% of them had the cameras set on Auto or P. I hope their chosen manufacturer had a provision in the cameras to run a high enough ISO to succeed.

The mobile phone shooters added unsteadiness to all the other handicaps that small camera users face. But that is alright because most of them will lose the images they take when they drop or lose their phones. It is just passing pixels.

Note: I am actually very grateful to John – a friend – who gets me in to the hot rod show as one of his photo team. I never stalk him when he is seriously busy or seriously stressed. I do not take money from his pocket because there is none in there.

*   I cope with crowds by finding the position I need for the car shot, then setting all the controls, framing the shot, and smiling sweetly. If you stand there long enough smiling even the hardiest crowd gets nervous and goes away.

Being Kind To People For Fun And Profit

We need not spend our days devising traps for our fellow men. Or women, for that matter. We can devote part of the time to good works and kindly activities. We can radiate sunshine and happiness. We can bless all around us.

And after we’ve lulled them into a sense of security we can fall on them like avenging demons. They’ll have slowed down enough during the good times to make for much easier targets.

Of course there are people who say this is cruel and deceitful upon our part – who say that we are merely taking advantage of people to wreak a more terrible revenge upon them. Well they said that about Lady Macbeth and Vlad the Impaler and that hasn’t stopped people from visiting Scotland or Transylvania, now has it? And what’s a little blood between friends? A sticky red pool, that’s what.

A lot of people think of kindness in big terms – like valuable gifts or especial politeness and suchlike. Really, it can be accomplished for very little outlay, after you pay for the knife sharpening. Try doing one kind deed for someone today and see how far it goes. For instance; if you see a pensioner on the side of the road struggling to escape the deadly toils of terrible poisonous serpents, don’t just speed away. Slow down or stop, wind down the window, and say Good Day. They appreciate these things, the pensioners and the serpents.

Children can sense kindness. They respond to it as flowers do to the sun – by wilting. So remember to water the under-5’s when they come to visit. And a sprinkle of chicken manure wouldn’t go astray, either…

Finally, remember that the key to a good marriage can be made in Heaven. Or by Yale. Get two cut and put one under the mat.