Henry's Songbook

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The Farm Auction

  • Enoch Kent

    Auctioneer comes here today
    Privacy upon display
    Highest bidder takes away
    But they can't take it all

    Rusting tractor on the hill, fence-post with a printed bill
    That says the sale goes on until everything is gone

    Bone and silver napkin rings, elastic bands round spoons and things
    Tiny fingers touched the strings of that fiddle in the case
    The coffee pot they never used, the silver frames are slightly bruised
    Round portraits that amused in parlour and in hall

    Firelight and a favourite song, laughter that rings among
    The memories that still belong within these empty rooms
    Remember when the lights were low, the log fire and the mistletoe
    Morning sunlight on the snow, how much for a broken sleigh

    A jar of nails, a box of tacks, six dining chairs with wicker backs
    In the garden piled in stacks, being spotted by the rain
    Auctioneer comes here today, strangers' cars that line the way
    Children watch the odd display while mothers watch the lots
    That are numbered with the coloured tags, books in boxes, clothes in bags
    Bought for learning, bought for rags, everything must go

    (as sung by Iain MacKintosh)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1988:] Many years ago, before I was playing music for a living, I worked in the family business, part of which was buying and selling antiques. And part of my job would be to go to auction sales to buy antiques. I would try to buy them cheaply and sell them very expensively. It was good to get a bargain because I'm a good Scotsman. But I always had mixed feelings when I was buying something cheap that someone else had valued, that perhaps a family had valued for generations. This song expresses those mixed feelings. (Intro Iain MacKintosh)

  • [1998:] Why on earth auctioneering should have such a venerable reputation, nobody knows; perhaps it's something to do with the British fascination with second-hand goods. (Bella Bathurst, Observer, 24 May)

  • [2000:] No song evokes the saddest day in the lives of so many farm communities with more compassion or less sentimentality. Every slick peddler of nostalgia in today's money-driven heritage industry should be made to listen to Iain's telling rendition of this well-crafted, atmospheric song. Jars of nails and boxes of tacks ... It's going to take more than that to better the plight of today's Scottish farming industry. To paraphrase the lyrics at the end, is it really true that everything must go? (Notes Iain MacKintosh & Brian McNeill, 'Live and Kicking')

  • [2002:] Working through the cold, damp daylight hours into the night, my dad, mum, brother, sister and my father's friends dismantled what they could of the farm, and carried it piece by piece up into a field overlooking the village. We brushed down the implements that fitted on the front and back of tractors; we pulled apart piles of old rusty tools with handles of green, oily wood, and piled them again in trailers for carting away; we took the gates from their hinges and dragged them to the field and laid them out in rows which contained the baler, pitchfork, bale-lifter and pigsty gates [...]. In the end we hosed and brushed down the trailers, and parked them in the field, where everything was arranged in rows, each object or cluster of little objects about five yards apart. Finally we shooed pigs into lots for selling in makeshift pens, trying to make sure the smaller, weaker ones were not grouped together, so that the lots all looked strong and healthy, so they would fetch a better price, although, given marked prices, we wondered who would really want them. Last, we cleaned out the old red-brick sties that would soon be converted into houses.

    The auctioneer came, and crowds of people descended on the field to buy and to watch. I remember the auctioneer's company arranged for a caravan that sold tea and bacon sandwiches [...]. The sale seemed to take for ever, a crowd of people moving from one lot to another, boots tramping the sludge, faces I remembered but all older and many of them looking tired. After it, we all sat in the kitchen with the plastic wallclock ticking, not saying anything, just slurping at mugs of tea. [My dad was] just sitting entirely silent and out of himself, his cap on the table, his eyes looking down unseeing, one hand cradling the other. (Richard Benson on the auctioning of his family's farm in East Yorkshire, Observer, 15 Sep)

Quelle: Scotland

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21.12.2000, aktualisiert am 17.10.2003