JAMES BRAXTON As seen on BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It

Sunday, May 16, 2004
Beckham or Johnson? Only the Duke will know

The migration of goods from Cardiff to Bristol worked against us. It was always going to be a steep hill to climb, Cardiff’s Pumping Station and Jacobs antique centre had little to offer. Rob and Cat’s Meerschaum pipe, George II style mahogany and gilt wall mirror and Art Nouveau vase were greeted with little enthusiasm, resulting in a debt of £80. In moments of lose, I remind myself that the British viewer would soon tire of self-satisfied contestants grinning as they were handed another £100. Bargain Hunt gloriously embodies our self-depreciating nature, as after all, it would be embarrassing to profit from another’s money. I remember, a year ago, as I drove into work hearing Terry Wogan reading a listener’s letter relating how after despairing at another night of “I am a celebrity get me out of here” he switched to see what Auntie had to offer, and was perplexed to see David Dickinson congratulating 2 experts on loosing £500 in half an hour after buying a large wooden turkey and a rusty pedal car. Now that’s television, both the factual and the ridiculous.
I wasn’t looking forward to Thursday after having volunteered to be auctioneer at a celebrity charity golf day. It wasn’t the auctioneering that worried me it was the golf, having last played over a year ago, when it took me 3 swings to move off the 1st tee. I had, up until then, been lucky with my swing that had looked after me in spite of no practice. So I addressed the problem with a more considered approach, and played higher pitched woods and irons until my confidence grew, and it worked. The day was hosted by Jimmy Hill for SPARKS (sporting aiding medical research for kids) and sponsored by a trendy exhibition company called Indigo, I played with Con Cluskey one of the singing duo called The Bachelors and Toby and Matt from Royal Eastbourne Golf Club. I was amused to relate that there was some confusion who was the celebrity, as the photographer on the 1st tee asked me to shake hands with the others, I was sure Con was the man, and he thought I should assume the role, I stood down as 4 years on television compares unfavourably to 40 years on the stage. Much to my surprise I played alright, and mentioned, in my pre-auction amble that Terry Wogan says that the secret of golf is all in the buttocks, Con Cluskey says it’s not in the wrists, and I said an auction is all in the arms, so get them up and keep bidding. My advice was unnecessary, they bid like good’uns, taking a signed Martin Johnson shirt to £2,000, a signed David Beckham Real Madrid shirt to £1,300, and an oar blade signed by the Olympic four of Sir Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinset, James Cracknell and Tim Foster making £2,500, which was helped by having Tim Foster in the house.
Life is a circle, as I sat back in the Duke of Devonshire’s club house after enjoying a lovely round of golf on the Devonshire course I thought of the recently departed Duke, who was humorously self-deprecating about himself and his own place in the world, would have maybe enjoyed the fact that gentlemen of sport make more at auction.