Saturday, April 13, 2024

Firepit left me with just a warm feeling 

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Retired sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris on a good deed that does not go unpunished.
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Bryan the editor kindly rang me the other day for a catch-up and to see how I was after the bout of leptospirosis.

I was able to tell him that, other than an annoying persistent ringing in my ears (called tinnitus apparently), I was fully recovered and fortunate compared to others from this region who also caught it after the wet year we have had.

Then Bryan asked me if I had an idea for an occasional column and I said, ‘Yes, if you have the space and I’m not bumping anyone else out, I do as it happens.’

It began with a generous invitation from my old sparring mate Jamie Mackay to join his NZME golf team at the annual Norwood Charity Golf Tournament at Wairakei to raise funds for Farmstrong. Farmstrong is doing fantastic work during these challenging times.

No golfer would ever turn down a round of golf at Wairakei, one of this country’s most picturesque and wonderful golf courses. And besides, Jamie and I have been playing for a trophy for over 20 years. It’s known as the Choker’s Trophy because neither of us has ever won it. The other guy inevitably chokes at a critical moment and all is lost. 

At this point, I was one match ahead and keen to increase my lead.

I even had a rare lesson and practised in the lead-up to the day, so keen was I to play well on this course. There seemed to be an inverse relationship between the work I was at last putting into my game for improvement and the actual outcome, which was annoying.

Sure enough, on the day I played badly but so did he. However, I performed worse to see him easily snatch the trophy and even up our two-decade rivalry.

Towards the end, I was so disconsolate after hitting yet another ball into a lake that I simply walked in shoes and all to fetch it but had the consolation of coming back with 20 other bad golfer’s balls.

Anyway, this is all just setting the scene for what was to come.

I like to support charity events by doing a bit of spirited bidding, more to push others along to pay a fair price. Sometimes I end up with something that I didn’t really want and must hide from Jane when I get home.

There were also a number of items in a silent auction and at the beginning of the evening I noticed no one had initiated one so without reading to see what it was, I put my name down with a starting bid of $300.

Just before the auction proper and the close of the silent auction, a mate congratulated me on my purchase. I shot out to see what had gone wrong.

No one else had placed a bid.

Now a Valvoline Firepit is a fine thing I’m sure and $300 was way too low.

But now that I’m an unpaid shepherd in our business, I’d given Jane the talk about financial probity and care. No more paintings on walls already crowded, or shoes. You know, the talk that never goes down well and is often counterproductive.

Coming home with a hard-to-hide firepit was not going to be well received.

I grabbed the form and started working the room to get at least a $301 bid. Desperation kicked in and I began to offer it for my bid sum and $50 cash thrown in.

Then the auction started and in my defence, I did have a decent go at a Manawatū golfing package.

As the auction concluded, I strode to the lectern and announced I had one more item and that I fancied my auctioneering skills.

I set to rid myself of this awkward conundrum.

I was surprised how difficult it was to get bids even when I told them it wouldn’t cost them more than $200, an absolute bargain.

There seemed to be a great deal of amusement from the crowd, though, at the unfortunate and tricky situation I’d gotten myself into.

Turns out auctioneer Morty Mortensen and Mackay were behind me signalling the crowd not to bid.

I signed off with an expletive of exasperation, only to hear from Morty that having extracted $300 from me they would now proceed to auction the firepit, which went for a healthy $400 to a now keen owner.

I may not have had to hide a firepit when I got home but it was discovered that I’d paid good money for something that I never even ended up with, which was an even worse situation.

The event, sponsored by Norwood and many other businesses, was an immense success and raised exactly $80,000 for Farmstrong.

My consolation being that Mackay chipped in $300 to match mine to get it to the $80,000 total.

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