Monday, 30 November -0001

I like to move it, move it!

Itchy feet and a desire for alcoves drive VG Lee to erect a For Sale sign, which incurs the wrath of her neighbours…

Written by VG Lee
I think you’re being thoroughly selfish,’ my neighbour Ted says, having enjoyed two mugs of tea, an early hot-cross bun and the best part of a packet of chocolate Bourbons. ‘At my time of life any disruption could kick off the old angina.’

‘There is no “old angina”,’ I tell him. ‘You suffer from indigestion due to an over-reliance on your deep-fat fryer.’

‘You’ve got an answer for everything.’ Exit Ted, tight-lipped, clutching a container of my homemade celery soup.

The trouble started the morning after a For Sale sign was erected in the front garden. Micra Mary (so named because of her red Micra car), on her way to the post office, knocked on my front door. ‘Did you know that some overeager estate-agent Johnny has put up a board outside your house?’

‘Yes, I did know. I asked him to.’

She looks astounded and then personally affronted, ‘Who will feed Willis and Midge (her cats) when I’m away on ballroom dance weekends?’

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‘I need to be nearer the shops.’

‘You’d desert your friends and petfeeding duties for… shops?

‘And the station, library, cinema, seafront, cafes, lido…’

‘Lido? You can’t swim!’

‘Also alcoves. You know how I hanker after alcoves.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ she barks.

‘Easy for you to say – having a wealth of alcoves.’

I am a serial home-mover, having inherited my late aunt’s home-moving genes. Many weekends in childhood were happily spent poring over estate agents’ details, although Aunty had a particular fondness for mobile homes.

‘Look Val – nifty seating that doubles as a bed. The dear little stove – two rings – no trouble at all to keep clean.’ (Aunty believed that a threecourse dinner for 10 could easily be achieved on two gas rings with a saucepan and a Pyrex dish!)

So far, the potential buyers, or PBs, as the estate agent calls them, have to a man, woman and child loved my house. Several have announced that they intend to contact my estate agent immediately with an offer, that they are cash buyers, chain free and eager to move. One woman stood in my bathroom with tears in her eyes. ‘Your home is charming, quirky, unique and unforgettable!’ Her words – like a line from a love song – prompted me to dab my own eyes with the corner of a flannel.

However, after a month of keeping every room pristine, making soup, coffee, peeling oranges (buyers like the smell of such items), stopping Micra Mary from smoking within a 20-yard radius, demanding that Ted and his cats remain in their own house, I’ve come to the conclusion that all this admiration adds up to a big fat zero.

Imagine this: a wet afternoon, viewings booked for four and fourfifteen. At three o’clock my doorbell rings. I open up to a thin young man in a raincoat, a teenage girl and a tall bouncy woman with a baby in a papoose carrier. Are these my four o’clock PBs an hour early?

The woman with papoose beams at me. ‘We’ve come to look at your house.’

‘So, you’re from the estate agent?’ The thin man grips my hand and shakes it, which I take to be a ‘yes’.

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Courtesy demands that once I’ve shaken someone’s hand, I must welcome them in. While they tour my house I peel more oranges in the kitchen. After 20 minutes the rain stops and they troop downstairs to join me. Thin man assures me my house is a contender and that they all admire my decor. It is only when the four and four-fifteen appointments arrive on time that I realise the early birds were not bona fide buyers.

‘You’re mad,’ Ted expostulates later that evening. ‘Letting in not one but a trio of complete strangers? At the very least you could have been murdered.’

‘But they had a baby.’

‘Are you sure?’

No, I wasn’t sure. I never actually saw or heard a baby, merely taking it for granted that nobody wears a papoose just as a fashion statement – do they?

‘Was anything stolen?’ Micra Mary wanted to know. ‘Have you rung the police?’

‘No, and no. They’re hardly going to tramp past me with pictures, books and rather nice bedding under their arms.’

‘They could have filled the papoose with jewellery and money.’

‘All I’ve got is my penny collection – it only adds up to £4.53.’

I am disillusioned. I have incurred the wrath of my very dear friends, but still I see myself sitting outside a coffee shop down in the town, before mooching home by way of Marks & Spencer’s food hall, to my new Victorian cottage or bijou artisan dwelling. Or even a mobile home with a dear little stove and nifty seating that doubles as a bed.

Always You, Edina, by VG Lee, is published by Ward Wood Publishing, priced £9.99.




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