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“GOING! Going! Gone!”

Found – an obscure work by Robert Power, a forgotten journalist. In the 1920s and up to the early 1950s his short ‘thought pieces’ were syndicated in the UK and as far as Australia. This tradition of coffee break columns is still with us – now it’s Robert Crampton rather than Robert Power but it may not continue much longer…There is no real equivalent online. This is from his Two-minute talks (Vol 2)  S. W. Partridge (London,1925) and still has some relevance in the time of eBay. Other ‘talks’ have titles such as ‘Poppy Friendships’, ‘Blistering Tongues’, ‘In the W.P.B.’, ‘Rich Poverty’, ‘Are you Popular?’, ‘Poachers’ and ‘Rubbernecks.’

"GOING! GOING!"

"GOING! Going! Gone!" cries the auctioneer and brings down his mallet with a sharp rap to declare that opportunity to purchase has passed for all save the highest bidder.

The auctioneer emphasises the desirability of the goods he offers. In seductive language he paints the picture of a bargain that must be seized at once. Prudence struggles with desire in the mind of the keen bargain hunter, but time is limited, and if he lingers in indecision too long, the descending hammer puts a period to his vacillation.

There is pathos in the salesroom where the odd lots of life come up for auction. These bits of furniture, fingered by contemptuous hands, came from the old widow's cottage. She has gone under in the struggle, and has sought an asylum in the dreaded Poor-Law institution. In a few minutes her household treasures are disposed of. Yet there is not a piece of that humble furniture but is redolent with memories of a long life. Sentiment cannot live in salesrooms.

Here are the memorials of a ruined career. These grand objects of art, ornate furnishings, beautiful garments, costly trinkets - they came from the mansion of a ruined spectator. There was a time when wealth poured in like a tide, and he bought with a lavish hand. But the ebb followed, and adversity swiftly seized the treasured possessions. Now "Going! Going! Gone" marks their swift dispersal into other hands, and sets its seal upon life's vicissitudes.

Time is the great auctioneer who cries aloud his bargains in the salesroom of life. He offers opportunities, careers, promotions to those who will take them. But the golden moment must be seized. Delay may be fatal. There is indeed a "tide in the affairs of man," and how many can look back and see that they have missed it!

There are buyers, and there are also those whose sell. For every man who takes Time's offer at Life's auction there are scores who must throw upon that market missed opportunities, plans ruined for want of development, and incompletely schemes. These are the "bargains" snapped up by the industrious. You will hear the voice of Envy complain that a "lucky fellow" has harvested where another man as sown.

There are many mistakes made in the auction room, and many a buyer on close examination of a "bargain" finds that he has over bidden. Sometimes prudence is borne down by reason of the determination to prevent an object falling into the hands of another. Discrimination is needed if bad mistakes are to be avoided.

"Going! Going!" cries Time. Let us seize our opportunities with a firm hand, or else we shall hear the emphatic "Gone!" intimating that we have missed the prize, and perhaps never again will the chance come to secure "a real bargain."

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