We were in an uncharacteristically good mood after lunch at an Indian restaurant today, so we decided to continue the good times by viewing a flat right opposite Jacob’s school.
‘Just think of the time we’ll save,’ I said to Greg, as we drove to the show flat. ‘No more shlepping in traffic.’
He seemed to be reflecting on this. Finally he said, ‘You know what would be a great name for a real estate porn movie?’
‘Cock up and Go.’
I sighed. We arrived at the same time as a late middle-aged German couple. We were, after all, in competition for a resource, so we tried to lighten the atmosphere by joking about an intercom in the lift that said, ‘IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, SPEAK SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY.’ We all imitated calm, steady emergency-talk until we reached the fifth floor.
The agent was effusive but perplexed about how to divide her time between the two couples. How could she follow the money? Was it the couple with the kid in the school across the road? Or the more affluent and elderly foreign-sounding pair? She flitted between us, doing hard sell.
‘Are most of the residents elderly?’ asked Greg. It was an old-fashioned flat with internal windows, rooms within rooms. Right in the centre of the house was a tiny box of a compartment.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘but that’s actually a good thing. It means people keep leaving and new people then arrive.’
‘Who is the current owner?’ I asked.
‘A couple that went to a frail-care centre.’
There was a pause in the conversation. The German woman shrugged. ‘I’ve got another flat on the first floor,’ said the agent. ‘Deceased estate.’
‘What do you think?’ I asked as we left the building.
‘Each place depressed me in a different way. The empty flat: nothing means anything. The flat from the fifties: you put down roots, then it passes you by.’
Later, we told Jacob we’d looked at a flat. ‘It’s just opposite your school,’ I told him. ‘You can see the school gate from the window.’
‘Please don’t make me live there,’ he said.