I've a wee bit more time now, so a few more recollections about that fateful day...
Incidently, the second quote (with the extensice bibliography) in Jeff's post was from Ian Keable (if I remember...)
Since Geno asked about the script I'll try to dig up some of the phrases used (it was ten years ago, so bear with me if I start waffling).
When I first came up to the table the 'outside talker' (to give him a name) was speiling generally, but I paid little attention at that point. I was trying to catch his eye to buy a couple of the mini TVs but he avoided it quite well. The phrase that did stick in my mind was 'Forward a metre' which triggered him pulling the table back and everyone shuffling forward. By the time the 'ram man' (as Mark called him) on the raised dias took over he would give the talk, and periodically call 'forward a metre'. In retrospect I imagine he had a very good view of the street end of the shop and pulled everyone in as the crown was beginning to block the pavement outside.
OK, so now we are all crammed into the shop and RamMan has signalled for the doors to be closed. I remember looking back and seeing this (I'm just under six and a half feet tall, so I get a good view over most people's heads). RamMan told everyone that we would get a chance to buy some quality goods eventually, and that we were going to start now. But we had to show that 'we were buyers' and not 'wasting his time'. Here he pitched the perfume, which he would sell for 'not twenty pounds'. He asked the throngette 'How much did I say it would cost?' and I answered 'not twenty pounds'. For those blissful people who do not know me I have a very deep voice, and although I do not consider my accent to be too harsh, in London I sound like Rob Roy. Add to this my height, and RamMan picked up on this right away - 'That's right, not twenty pounds. I'll sell this gift for five pounds, to show me that you are a buyer'. (At this point we did not know we were buying perfume, or yellow water, just some 'quality gift).
When RamMan came to tighten the lure, as it were, he showed us a top of the range camcorder, a radio and sundry other things that he would sell for 'not sixty pounds' (remember that phrase, fact fans, there's a test in the morning...). The German woman (we'll call here Gretel) was asked if she wanted all this stuff for 'not sixty pounds'. She answered yes, and I'll never forget the phrase 'I'm so happy' which she said ever so slightly too loudly. Once Gretel had her stuff (at thirty pounds, less than the sixty, natch) it was time to tip the big sale. The six items were on display along the top of the counter, adorned with many other, yet not for sale items. For example; I remember that the briefcase was full of power tools, the watched were dripping in jewellery. You get the picture.
RamMan described the goods in terms that would make the most seasoned home shopping network presenter blush. He would sell us these fantastic goods at 'sixty pounds'. He then made eye contact with everyone in the room, saying 'the bid is sixty pounds, which would you like?'. The mark would choose his gift, and then hand over his card or cash. This is when I looked into the side room and watched, in not a small amount of awe, at the slick way in which the women on the phones called in for the authorisation codes. As this was going on, RamMan was working his way around the shop. I was close to the front at the left of the room (to RamMan's right) and he got to me quite soon. He looked at me and said 'Scotland, the bid is sixty pounds, what do you want?'. I told him that it was too rich for my blood and he said 'never mind, I've got something special for you at the end' and moved on.
All the while this was going on the knuckle draggers were moving into the crowd with the card slips to sign, and then handing out the items wrapped in large black bin bags and sealed with about a metre and a half of tape.
By the time he had got round everyone, there were three of us that were empty handed, myself and two young girls. RamMan offered me a gift for five pounds if I promised not to open it in the shop. He said 'Scotland, do you trust me?'
At this point I bought my camera, which was wrapped in a black bin bag and three metres of tape. It took quite an effort to get it open, and there was no way I could have done that in the shop.
I've seen a few of these things over the years, but it wasn't until I got more involved in the magic world that I realised what I was seeing. The first one I recall was in Weymouth on the south coast of England in 1977 on a holiday with my Mum, and the last was in an hotel in Edinbugh in 96. This time, the crew had gone around the residential areas of Edinburgh posting large flyers (A3 size) with large amounts of cheap electronics for sale at the hotel. I went along with my flatmate Max (an inch taller than me) to have a look. As everyone filed into the room all the flyers were taken off us, and we walked towards the far side of the hall. The room filled (we were quite near the front) and things got underway. I didn't pay much attention to what was being said at this sale, because right in front of me was a knuckle dragger whose defining facial characteristic was that he was missing half of his left ear. It had been cut off in a straight line, more, I suspect, as an underword punishment than an avant guard display of body modding.
Realising for certain that we were in less than salubrious company I said to Max 'It's a jam auction, let's go' and the two of us (about a foot above the crowd) walked out of the room. I'm not sure if this put RamMan off his stride, but I had fun explaining what was happening to Max in the car home.
Anyway, that's my knowledge of the Jam Auction, from the other side. As a retort to Robert; I'm not entirely dishonest - I just wanted a bargain (it's a bit of a racial stereotype ;)
Take care, and I hope this helps people _not_ get stung,