Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Hooptedoodle #374 - Tales of Shopping during Lockdown

(1) The international parcel saga - as mentioned a few days ago, I made an online purchase in the USA, and it took 12 days for the parcel to travel from somewhere in Massachusetts to the Global Shipping Center at Erlanger KY. I am astounded to relate that, though the scope for detailed tracking rather dropped out of sight thereafter, the package duly arrived on my doorstep in South-East Scotland bang on the promised date, so the international part of the trip took only 5 days, despite the involvement of Pitney-Bowes [who?] and Hermes at this end.

So, as promised, I have to admit that I am very favourably impressed. Credit where credit is due. Well done, everyone.

(2) A happy coincidence - I was pleased to manage to obtain a pre-owned copy of David Chandler's Marlborough as Military Commander online for only £6 plus P&P, and it duly arrived, promptly and tidily, from a bookshop in Bradford. I was very pleased to find that the book was clean and tight, but was especially happy to find a label on the inner cover revealing that it was previously owned by Charlie Wesencraft, no less. Since I read somewhere that Charlie was a close friend of Dr Chandler, I had a mad idea that I might have got an author's signature for my £6 as well, but alas, no!

I now have a number of books which were previously owned by celebs, as it happens - a set of The Dickson Manuscripts and a set of Sauzey's volumes on French Napoleonic allies, both formerly owned by George Nafziger, and a couple of ECW books once owned by Peter Young. These were all just flukes - there are a couple more, but at present I can't remember what they are, or who they came from. I did once buy a book on eBay which had previously been owned by me, but that is another tale, and rather embarrassing.

(3) An unusually fortunate purchase on eBay [UK]. Someone tipped me off that there was an item which looked like the sort of thing I might be interested in (old toy soldiers of an old-fashioned size). I checked it out and, yes, I was interested. The seller was someone I've dealt with before, and he comes up with some very nice old stuff from time to time. Starting bid was £12. The seller was also open to offers - based on past experience of what these figures typically go for, I made an offer of £16. Rejected.

OK - I upped my offer to £21. Also rejected. This was getting a bit steep for me, so I just placed a normal auction bid of £16 - there were 6 days to go. I reckoned I would be happy if I got them for that, and I would have been fairly priced out of the market if I didn't.

I was out this evening, but got home to find that I had won the item for the £12 starting price. No other bids, no other interest. Obviously we win a few and we lose a few, but it demonstrates the risks of making (or not accepting) offers on an auction item - risks both ways, of course, but I'd have happily paid the £21...


  1. Serendipity Tony. Serendipity. Occasionally life delivers you these unexpected pleasures. In this age of order everything on demand, I find I derive more satisfaction from something unexpected than from something I know I want and ordering what I want and get exactly what I wanted.

    Years ago my older two bought me the boxed set of all extant episodes of Dad’s Army. I could watch it whenever I wanted. In whatever order I wanted. I think I got about six episodes through the 70-odd, quite soon after. I haven’t put one of the DVDs on since. I really enjoy coming across an episode on the telly on a Saturday, and not really knowing which one it’s going to be. Maybe it’s partly to do with the sheer quality of the series, but it seems that it’s at least partly to do with the feeling that Life has just given me an unexpected pleasure.

    1. Funny you should mention that - I was thinking about this just the other day. Having something constantly on tap - in amounts you will never need and couldn't cope with very easily - does kind of dull the appetite. The obvious example might just be the Internet, I suppose (neuroses notwithstanding). I had a paid subscription to Spotify for a few years, and eventually cancelled it because I never used the stupid thing - I'd rather find some CD I've had for 25 years and play a track I remember with affection - as a special treat. Apart from anything else, it feels like a little triumph to find something in my own memory.

      It's possibly something to do with having been brought up with tales of rationing. There was a time when I lived in Edinburgh, and this was before the licensing laws changed, and it is probably back when I was still studying. On any given evening, I would suddenly realise that the local pub would be closing in an hour, and I REALLY fancied a beer. So I would race up to the pub, meet a few people I knew, and because the bar was about to close (and, eventually, because it was now time for Last Orders) I would have 3 pints in a major hurry, and waddle off home rather wishing I hadn't.

      I started buying in bottles of beer from the supermarket, so I always had some in, and then I would find that I rarely went to the pub and in fact I only occasionally had a beer at all. Odd. It's not that I went "on the wagon", I just removed the pressure to get some beer quickly before the chance was taken away.

      To this day, I always have bottles of beer in the house, but don't often drink the stuff. Mind you, the bars don't close any more (ignoring lockdown), and I don't have one within rushing distance now anyway.

  2. PS what was your eBay ‘win’?

    1. The lot which I secured for less than my previous offer was a little batch of rather boring old soldiers which only I (apparently!) would find interesting.

      The incident of buying back my own book is described here

      I sold off and got rid of all sorts of things when I got divorced and had to move into a small flat for a while - masses of books included. It's funny that often the ones I missed were not what I would have expected to miss!

  3. The Wargaming Gods are smiling upon you, Tony! I hope your streak lasts. I have at least one book autographed by Featherstone.

    As for ebay, I find that bargains are much more plentiful during July and August when demand is down. I have picked up some great stuff by either being the only one to bid or having a "Make Offer" accepted. I enjoy it when that happens.

    1. Yeah, agreed - it's small potatoes, but it feels like you've beaten the system! The book market has changed since I was more involved. When I sold my mother's house 4 years ago I tried to sell some of her library (and she had some marvellous old books) on eBay and elsewhere and it was a disaster - I either got no offers or else I seemed to get ripped off by pro dealers. Eventually I gave away cubic yards of stuff to the Heart Foundation charity shop, and just shrugged it off. Maybe nobody wants books any more?

      The seasonal theory is interesting - certainly, I'm pretty sure I got my soldiers for a bargain price yesterday because the auction ended on a Wednesday afternoon - if it had been a Sunday evening the hawks would have been queuing up, and I'm sure I'd have missed out!

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Ray - he probably is, but he's made a few bob out of me in the past, so he'll be OK!