John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘Goat sale’

My chosen occupation took me far and wide, but never far from fun and games when it came to selling animals.

At one of Nottingham’s famous annual Goose Fairs in the 1980s, I had a horse sale planned and was asked by a local radio journalist, Dennis McCarthy, if a leading lady member from the City Council could auction one of the horses live on BBC Radio Nottingham. Always up for some entertainment and a bit of handy publicity, I agreed and the pair arrived the following week as the sale was in progress.

The plan was for the councillor to sell the last horse of the day. This fine animal had a 750 guinea reserve. The councillor did well and managed to sell it for an impressive 850 guineas, with me getting a round of applause when I announced that I would be donating my commission to charity.

The BBC man had broadcast the event on his portable machine and was so enthused that he asked if the councillor could sell another horse. Sadly that wasn’t possible as it had been the final horse of the sale. But a local gypsy dealer called Jim Crow intervened and offered one of his small goats for her to auction.

Within minutes, the blessed animal was stood shivering on top of my desk in front of the crowd and I warned everyone not to stroke it as it was likely to have an embarrassing accident from sheer terror. Jim, the dealer, said he wanted 40 quid for it and I told him it didn’t even have 10 quid’s worth of meat on it.

The goat sale was not intended to be broadcast on the radio and was just for the entertainment of the councillor and the crowd, so I advised her to start at £25 and if there were no bidders I would ensure it was sold by buying it myself under the name of ‘Mr Smith’.

As the councillor started to ask for bids, the crowd became boisterous, laughing and joking at the sight of the tiny goat, shaking away on the podium. At the same time the recording button was accidentally pressed on the BBC machine creating a record of the event.

As the councillor tried to inspire the audience with calls of £50, £40 and £30, there were no takers. Eventually, a man stepped forward and said he would give ‘five bob’ for the creature. Jim Crow, who never minced his words and always had a good line in coarse humour, shouted back: ‘I wouldn’t let you sh*g it for that.’

Immediately, the whole crowd burst into fits of laughter and fell about roaring at such a rude joke. The noise was tremendous and the lady councillor immediately tried to calm the shaking goat by stroking the back of its head. I tried to stop her, but it was too late and the blessed animal opened its bladder all over my desk, completely drenching the paperwork from the day’s horse sale.

What a calamity and to make matters worse, the whole sorry episode was transmitted – including the swearing – to a vast local audience on the BBC machine. I got some wonderful letters afterward from people who had a great laugh listening to the whole mad affair on the radio.

Mind you, I also got one from a vicar who said he had been horrified at the use of such awful language on the BBC!

Buy the book, titled ‘An Auction of Laughs’, which is now available to order, priced £6 (£7 with postage) with all profits to be donated to the British Red Cross.

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