Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why I am the world's worst estate agent.

Hello, I am the world's worst estate agent. I have a housing problem. I have need of an uncomplicated flatmate that doesn't annoy me. At a pinch, a flat 'mate' that does annoy me would do. So long as they pay some money. And don't own a donkey that they insist on bathing at 6am. My standards are sinking. Ok, ok. You can bathe your donkey but I'm not having that goat in my room. Can you put it on a lead? It's eating my bed linen. Bah. Oh, and by the way, you did say your four brothers were only staying for a couple of days, they've been here a week now.

Hmmm. There's nothing like a spot of pessimism about the future. But i've had the advert up on a well known website: 'Housemate needed for cheap hovel must enjoy the sound of drumming neighbour' - and in truth I've had a quite good response. If a quite good response is people emailing & phoning up, coming round with smiles on their faces & leaving 10 minutes later with smiles still stuck to their faces, telling me they'll let me know.

Some do, some don't. But I already know.

I'm starting to miss my previous housemate. We lived like twin serial killers (as they always say, "Oh he was very quiet. Kept himself to himself. He was an ideal neighbour really. Though I did wonder what that smell was from the drains.") We got on with our lives, almost living in parallel time zones. He got up at 6am at the latest. I go to bed at 4am at the latest. We would occasionally meet at meal times or to discuss leaks and other issues. There were happy conversations, but then we moved on. He had a busy life. I had ... well I had ‘things to do’. The internet doesn't read itself, y'know. Someone's gotta slavishly check every page.

And then he moved out. To move in with his workmates, which he says he regrets a bit, but at least they are awake at more compatible hours. I hope to move out myself, but in the meantime... The process of 'showing' the house.

Look people. First up. It's cheap. There are photos on the Gumtree advert. The photos don't lie. The kitchen is painted the same shade of yellow as a banana milkshake. And okay, I didn't photograph the bit where there was a leak. But really - if you can believe me - that is okay now. The leak has been fixed. The only problem was that the day after the builders fixed the plaster - I decided to paint over the plaster "to make it look nice." The paint didn't really 'stick'. Then two days later it started to peel off. I phoned the builders to complain and they laughed at me. They said I needed to leave it to dry for 3 more months. I wasn’t told. So now there’s a big ugly patch & there's not much I can do. But come on, it's superficial. Have you seen how low the rent is? Obviously not.

Mary was first round. And I had an instant feeling of dread. It wasn't that she looked like someone I had recently had a bit of a weird time with; it was just that she was a similar type. Oh no.... I had a sudden realisation that this is how prejudice starts. One hippy looking person treats you bad, you get a bad feeling about the next hippy looking person. Luckily I'm mature and sensible so I still managed to continue my tour of the house with a plastic fixed grin on my mouth.
"And this is the room."
"Yes, it's a good size," she says. There's hope still. "Can I see the bathroom?”
I say, “We haven't got a bathroom.”
“Oh. Ok.”
“We just go in the back garden.”
“Oh right.”
.................. Pause
“No I'm joking, it's through here.” The custard yellow bathroom – well there was banana paint left over from the kitchen.

We moved on to the kitchen. She wanted to take control of the entire freezer. She likes to cook in advance. For an army. I ummmed, I ahhhed. She wrote things in a notebook. The chemistry was not good and yet still we continued our smiling pretence.

No. It was never going to work. I'm the world's worst estate agent.

Mungo was next. He’d just split up with his wife. In fact I know a lot about Mungo’s recent life. I tried to be interested in Mungo. I thought there was chance. I turned the heating up to 28C. I filled the house with lavender. I was tempted to bake bread. But thought that might seem a bit fake. Mungo seemed interested. He never called back. Tosser. I made no bathroom-based jokes with Mungo.

Ahh, and then we had Miguel & the gang. 2 Spanish students wanted to move in. Or said they did. I gave them extensive instructions. I filled the oven with herbs to infuse the kitchen with scent and distract from the disastrous damp patch. 3 people came round, Miguel + Conchita & Spud. I learnt at the end that Miguel was just their fixer. It was Conchita & Spud that were looking for somewhere. But at the time I assumed it was Miguel I had to convince. So I concentrated on him and Conchita. Ignored random bloke in the background, Spud.

I showed them up to the room. “Is nice,” said Conchita. “Is good, is nice.”

Miguel asked to use the toilet. I pointed out that it was next to the room. Then stood in the room with Conchita & Spud while they asked no further questions and understood nothing I asked. I started to worry that Miguel would start doing a plopsydaisy in the toilet and we would be able to hear – as the toilet was next door. That’s a sure fire way to make sure that someone doesn’t move in. “As you can hear, the toilet is very conveniently located next to your room…”

So we rushed downstairs. Did the tour sans Miguel. Conchita even liked the damp patch, “Is good, is nice.” So that was encouraging, right? Spud said nothing. I sense he was the strong silent Spanish speaking type.

So now I’m paying more money. I’m living on my own as the part-time other housemate is flouncing about in New York. So. If there are any serial killers reading and need a quiet residence… I’ll ask no questions, just so long as you keep yourself to yourself and pay your bills on time. Please apply to the usual address…


  1. When did Midge become the Spanish Miguel?

  2. Ummm. Becos. Don't be clever.

  3. So? Are you sorted yet?