Thursday 26 April 2007

The Estate Agent

Global warming? Not on Exmoor. Well, not strictly true but we do seem to be doing better than a lot of the UK and Europe. The thread about people finding daffodils in bloom and snowdrops out was truly chilling. I hate nature being out of sync – and this unseasonally warm winter is already giving me the heeby-jeebies. Even though, so far, there is nary a hint of a snowdrop or daffodil round here. But the mosquitoes have been buzzing around the windows – and that’s not right, is it?

I’ve also been reading, with huge gratitude, the posts from people trying to offer help and advice on our house sale. There is something so heart-warming about strangers (well, not quite strangers any more, but you know what I mean) going out of their way to help… Great advice and it’s going to prod me into doing what Must Be Done – ie the dreaded visit to the Estate Agent (excuse the capitals, but these are terms with gravitas that need emphasising – apologies to my dear friend Camilla, from whom I caught this habit – either engaging or irritating, depending on your view of capitals).

The Estate Agent (well, the head honcho) is called Napoleon. No, seriously, he really is. He comes from a huge family and is, I think, the seventh son (I was rather hoping the seventh son of a seventh son with magical powers, but that really is wishful thinking). I suppose his parents simply ran out of normal names. It isn’t even as if he has blown in from Notting Hill or fashionable parts of Cheshire either. He’s a Somerset lad born and bred. Actually he’s very nice (I know that’s an oxymoron – the nice estate agent) and about as reasonably decent as the breed can get. Well, he loves his mum at any rate. How do I know? Well, when I first went in his private office (up the rickety stairs) I couldn’t help but be stunned by the huge array of disgusting paintings. No, really – truly awful. You know the kind of things – still life of petunias that look like they’re made of cardboard; thatched cottage with smoke curling out the chimney (that a seven year old could do better). He caught me looking and I smiled encouragingly. ‘Interesting pictures. Very eclectic. Very, er, bright. Bold use of colour.’
He rolled his eyes. ‘No need to be nice. They’re my mother’s and they’re ghastly. But it’s either here or at home, so what do you do? The trouble is, because I keep putting them up, she thinks I like them, and keeps doing more. She’s frighteningly prolific.’

I dread The Meeting though. They will suggest we bring down the price. We will shudder. They will suggest we pay for expensive advertising somewhere or other. We will explain we can’t afford it. We had budgeted for moving a year ago – money’s too tight to mention. Then they will Put the Ball in our Court. We will rub our hands together, look at one another and come up with ever-wilder Ways of Attracting Editorial. In the past we have come up with press releases extolling the virtues of our house on the grounds that:

a) It is in one of the few areas of the UK that does not suffer from any light pollution.
b) It is one of the few areas of the UK that would never (or so it seems) run short of water, given a drought. This being last summer – as so much of the UK languished with yellow lawns.
c) It is ideally situated to avoid rising sea levels, come global warming, being perched up a hill and without any risk of flooding.
d) It has been thoroughly space-cleansed and feng-shued by leading experts in the field! It has also been certified ghost-free by one of the UK’s leading psychics (though she did notice a ‘small, not terribly effectual, grumpy presence’ in my study.)

They will smile politely and probably bite their lips and kick each other under the table. We will all agree to Think About It, shake hands and go. Adrian and I will repair to Woods and moan. They will probably do the same over a coffee by the photocopier.

Ah, I feel better now. Writing about it makes me feel as if I’ve actually done it. So maybe I can Hide my Head in the Sand for a bit longer.

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