Only one stall looked promising, yielding up a couple of small sewing machines, a microscope and other long-forgoten items. I made a small pile of these at one end of the stall and asked the vendor how much he wanted for the lot.
"I don't sell anything until after 8.30" came the reply. "I like to get set up properly first".
What he actually meant was that he wanted to avoid having to give any form of dealer discount until the public had had the chance of paying him more.
My friend and I walked away and over a cup of tea (much tea is drunk at such affairs) evolved THE PLAN.
Just before 9 am we wandered back and I again began to make a pile of the things that interested me. Only this time the pile was much larger. As each item was selected I asked the price and, most times, agreed it. The dealer kept a list and, as the total mounted, he could hardly fail to show his excitement. This was his big day. The day all antique dealers dream of. The day the mug walks by and clears all the rubbish he's been carting around for the past nine months. And the mug never even asks for a discount.
The grand total was well over 2,000 pounds ($3,000) and as my friend and I discussed how we were going to load such an array of treasures into our vehicle, I pulled out the dealer's "wad" and began slowly to count out the notes.
The timing was perfect, I was just two notes short of the total when the hall clock began to strike nine.
My friend gently pushed me aside, picked up the pile of notes from the table and led me away, loudly reminding me:
"Come along Graham. Remember, you never buy anything after nine o'clock.