What am I bid for the London Olympics?

I know the burning question you all have.

I do: since the very opening seconds of the Olympic opening ceremony, you have been able to think of nothing else but possessing one of those scythes being wielded by rustic peasants in Danny Boyle’s Green And Pleasant Land.

Or – wait – were you more anxious to secure a one-eyed olympic mascot, dressed as Sherlock Holmes, just for yourself?

Wait no longer, and look no further. For with a haste which could be deemed either efficient or indecent, London is selling the Olympics.

I suppose London has finished with it. When I walk past the one eye mascot, Wenlock, I just feel sad and deflated these days. The party is over, girls and boys, time to clear up the tickertape.

Actually, I think the scythes are all gone. In fact, when I click on the pageantry section a piece of cyber-tumbleweed blows plaintively across the screen.  The scythes have all been snapped up, it seems. Along with all those stovepipe hats, I assume.

That’s the thing about auctions. You have to arrive at the right time.

In Babylon, 500 years before Christ, you got your wife by auction.

It worked like this, according to Ancient Greek historian Heroditus, you turned up at the village market place and all the blokes stood round while the women were auctioned off. Prettiest first, second prettiest next, and so forth.

Heroditus writes: “The rich men who wanted wives bid against each other for the prettiest girls, while the humbler folk, who had no use for good looks in a wife, were actually paid to take the ugly ones, for when the auctioneer had got through all the pretty girls he would call upon the plainest…. to stand up, and then ask who was willing to take the least money to marry her—and she was knocked down to whoever accepted the smallest sum. The money came from the sale of beauties, who in this way provided dowries for their ugly…sisters.”

Ludicrous? Possibly. But not as ludicrous as the flaky closing days of the Roman Empire. When the Praetorian Guard bumped off the resident emperor, Pertinax, before auctioning the Roman Empire itself off.

Brave new world, which demands the highest price-per-soldier’s-head for world domination: would-be emperors vied for how much each guard would be paid to buy their loyalty. Didus Julianus offered the highest price, 25,000 sestertii each; and ascended the throne on March 28.

Buying Rome turned out not to be such a great strategy. Money – mark this well – loses to might in any rock-paper-scissors situation. Septimius Severus marched on Rome claimed the throne: he had the highest bidder executed on June 1 193.

In the light of such auction fodder, the current scramble for The Olympics seems less extreme. If you still want a piece of the action, it might be noted that there is a sea of those odd Olympic mascots – Wenlock and Mandeville –  still for sale in prices ranging from the £4,000 mark.

These include Sherlock Wenlock, which has been standing on Regent’s Park Green trail during the festivities; there is Westminster Abbey Wenlock, and you have just one day left to buy Gemstone Wenlock, the contribution of the Royal Geological Society, who is currently going for just over £5,000.

I know your fingers are itching.

Happy bidding.


Image source here


46 thoughts on “What am I bid for the London Olympics?

  1. If I might quote my great-aunt – ‘I could never go to an auction, I suffer from hayfever’. (I think she meant that she might sneeze and buy something in error.)

  2. In my humble opinion those mascots were the biggest mistake of the games
    Wenlock and Mandeville – I found them really quite disturbing!

    1. 😀 Circus it has been, Roger. One huge party. Some proceeds are going to pay for the cost of putting the Olympics on: but I think all the Wenlock and Mandeville stuff is being sold for the Lord Mayor’s charity. Which means Boris is in charge. Oh help.

  3. I am too dangerous at auctions, my hand seems to twitch incessantly until it is able to snatch the prize. Our first cruise with Princess lines introduced us to their very entertaining art auctions along with a bit of champagne. Two hours later my wife was married to the wacky owner of 13 paintings. OY!

  4. Being bored out of my mind in a real estate tax class, this may be the perfect thing to entertain me, Kate. 🙂

  5. I do not understand what those cyclops things were all about, and in fact several of the happenings at the Olympics left me confused, apart from the sports and the athletes themselves who were amazing.
    I can think of far better things to spend £5000 on.
    I loved your Heroditus extract and thank goodness I did not live then.

    1. The mascots left me cold too, Rosemary, though Mad and Fe seemed to love them. Bit scary, in my opinion.

      Yes: to be auctioned would not suit me at all. All that ugly-cheap correlation business would terrify the bejeezers out of me.

  6. Mrs Tin and I used to have discussions about what we reckoned that one-eyed mascot was actually supposed to be.
    I’m not going to tell you some of our suggestions.

  7. The London Olympics should follow this page from the New York Yankees playbook. After they demolished the stadium known as “the house that [Babe] Ruth built” they sold off every last bit of it from the seats in the stands to the field’s dirt in key chains: http://www.overstock.com/Sports-Toys/Steiner-Sports-The-House-That-Ruth-Built-Key-Chain-w-Dirt-From-the-Original-Yankee-Stadium/5154211/product.html Therefore you can forever own a piece of Yankees history. With this in mind maybe the London mascots should be ground into dust and key chain-ized so people can forever carry the 2012 games in their pocket.

  8. Looks like I might still be able to get a deal on the opening ceremony placards for Turkmenistan and Uganda. Tempting….I’m afraid the Queen’s Guard Wenlock is a bit out of my range already, however.

  9. Women have always been so well regarded and respected by their fellows. It’s funny how it’s a centuries old assumption that one can’t have both looks and talents although it is often accepted that a woman could have neither. 🙂

  10. You’re right about the haste with which they’re moving merchandise! I suppose they need to attract the bidders while positive energies are still high! I think I’ll spend a little time on eBay tonight…just for fun, of course. I’ve purchased some items for my “monarchy” collection from GB and I pay a fortue for shipping. 🙂 Loved the Roman history. I still can’t wrap my head around how easily people were disposed of just to get them out of the way. Killed because you were the highest bidder is a new one! Debra

  11. What a neat segueway from the Olympic auction to auctions in ancient times.

    Late. I’m afraid I look at auctions like I do at garage sales. I avoid them like the plague. But if there was something I’d REALLY want, it would be way out of my price range.

    1. I know, Judy…I look longingly at houses that go by auction here. Terrible money pits with tudor beamed ceilings in the middle of nowhere. Let us hope I never involuntarily put up my hand at the wrong moment…

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