Monday, 28 March 2011

Goodbye eBay, Goodbye Liverpool, Goodbye Betfair, Goodbye Forbrydelsen

All good things come to an end and the time has come for me to pull the plug on my dabbling on eBay. When I started out full of optimism in 1999 with the ludicrously optimistic user name LFCChampions (forged from the misguided belief that the Mighty Reds were once more on the verge of greatness), I had great fun trawling local antique fairs, auctions and even the odd car boot sale in search of bargains to resell on the exciting new auction site. As well as being fun it was a rare hobby that actually made money rather than being the usual drain on resources and, at its height, even after bank charges, tax and accountants' fees I was making several hundred pounds a week which I used to fund my collection of antique pottery. Those heady days are now in the past as this week I sold nine excellent antique ceramic pieces and made a princely profit of under £80. Pieces that would once have sold for £60 fetched nearer £20 and, but for one item that I bought very cheaply, the nine sales could easily have brought a loss. With the financial year ending soon it won't be worth preparing the accounts for the accountant as, if he charges me for checking them, I will end up with a hefty loss.

With all the antique shows on TV and attendances at antiques fairs up as a result I would have expected to see prices rise in reflection of all this interest. But on all the TV shows the emphasis is on driving a hard bargain and I will have to accept that interest in my specialist area (c18 and c19 English ceramics) is not what it was or there are simply too many people on the eBay bandwagon. In addition, the site used to bring high prices and charge low commissions but today it is exactly the reverse with high commissions and low prices. I've got about thirty items left that cost me around £1,000 so I've decided to take them to a local auction and see what happens. I imagine that after fees I will end up with maybe half that but £500 in the hand is better for me than a load of pots on a shelf. So farewell eBay. It was good while it lasted.

Another thing that's going the same way as eBay for me is my season ticket on the Kop. I've held season tickets at Anfield for most of the years from around 1970 to today (apart from when the kids were young and I couldn't afford it) but since the megabucks of the Premier League started to filter into the game,boy has it suffered. Today it's a big deal if a club breaks into the "big four" whereas I can remember seeing Swansea City top the First Division and on opening day at least 75% of teams' supporters thought that they had a chance of winning the league. I now feel the same for footballers and the money men in football as I do for the likes of Bob Diamond and Rich Ricci of Barclays who think that £14m is a justifiable wage packet (mind you, that's hardly surprising as it is the Barclays Premier League) Of course there are exceptions. Not all footballers are greedy bastards and some still feel passionately about their clubs but for every one who does there are half a dozen who couldn't give a toss. Few supporters today think that their team has any chance of winning anything and, whilst I wholeheartedly agree that winning isn't everything we are not far away from the situation in Scotland where one of the same two teams has won the league for as long as anyone can remember. In fact I just had a quick look at the statistics and only four teams have won the English Premier League since its inception and one of two has won it for the past six years.

It isn't going to change. We used to know that we had a match on Saturday at 3pm and maybe the odd midweek game. Now Sky and ESPN expect us to turn up on Monday nights, Saturday evenings at 5.30pm - sometimes at noon - and Sundays when they feel like it. I might as well watch the games from the comfort of home and save myself the hassle of the travel as it's no pleasure to be at the match where the main aim of those running the sport appears to be to milk the mugs who go of as much of their hard earned cash as possible and give them as little as they can in return. Would you pay a quid for a KitKat? The people running Anfield clearly think it a fair price. Forty four years or more of supporting the Reds will be hard to give up but I honestly don't think that I will miss it for a moment.

I'll be putting the £700 I save on the season ticket towards a new metal detector as the old one, although still working, has seen better days and is getting a bit heavy for an old bloke like me. They've got lightweight detectors on the market now that use wireless technology and make detecting for people with hip replacements more manageable. I haven't found anything like the cost of the detector in "treasure" over the eleven years that I have owned my current machine but fortunately I'm not in the hobby for money (although I'm not saying that I wouldn't love to have a valuable find) and anybody who takes it up in the hope of riches is likely to be very disappointed. I'll also give up my weekly flutter on Betfair to contribute to the detector. No criticism of Betfair - a great gambling site and one that I will return to as soon as I've paid for the new machine.

Saturday saw us on the edge of our seats for the final episode of BBC4's Danish import "The Killing" or "Forbrydelsen" as we afficionados have come to know it. I know that there are still plenty who haven't viewed the denouement and don't know whodunit yet so I won't give it away here. It was a masterpiece of storytelling with great acting, great filming, great lighting and the best woolies ever to appear on TV. It appears that almost everyone on Twitter has been following the show and it was on Twitter that @Glinner  (Graham Linehan) sent his followers this fun link.