Monday, 20 September 2010

Cow Pie Chronicles

During my sojourn as a lady of leisure, my chief role appears to be assistant to my mother. Reworded CV-wise, that’ll be ‘partner in property development projects’ in future years. My tasks have included key sorting (‘Here are three hundred keys in a bag. Find out what they’re for’); making vats of builders’ tea and coffee; flying to Hawaii to find more sugar plantations to supply said tea and coffee; and estate agent liaison.

You see, we’re selling our house. No, ‘house’ is wrong. In fact, my mother is selling … my Childhood Home. The paragraph break below is for you to ponder on my suffering before we move on.


But readying ourselves for the estate agent’s clutches is taking some time. You see, before you can prostitute your shiny picture of my Childhood Home (CH) in your shiny estate agent’s window, you need a brochure with which to pimp out the place.

Ah Mr Estate-Agent, you little knew what you were letting yourself in for when you presented your ineptly phrased blandisms to my English teacher mother. She’s so eagle-eyed she makes eagles feel a bit redundant.

Offers over a Crunchie please
Added to this, the brochure has come to represent quite a lot of what MD feels about our lovely home. We don’t want it going for two quid and a Crunchie thanks. [Father Dearest – relegated to just ‘father’ (F) after a recent turn of events – has scurried off somewhere sunnier, so seems less concerned.] Each intensely argued change of lighting, picture-moving, flower-planting has been conducted to a scheme known only to MD herself. So don’t you dare call our garden ‘fabulous’. We don’t live in Essex.

E-A arrives for some brochure amendment larks. I open the door to a man closely resembling Desperate Dan, who dwarfs all around him. The chair on which he sits struggles to contain even one of his monstrous thighs. Why, mother, why hire a giant to show people round our home? Potential buyers will surely feel they’ve stumbled into an episode of Location Location Location devoted inexplicably to dollshouses. Our ‘spacious and well-appointed rooms’ aren’t going to look so damn spacious now, are they?

Thankfully he turns down tea: our reserves are sadly diminished from builder-need and it’s too late to send to Mordor for steel-reinforced cups. And then MD takes him through spelling and punctuation errors. It is a rout. He can’t be much younger than fifty, but he becomes a nervous fifteen, mangling his words and fiddling with his pencil.

MD: And could we please remove that extra adjective on this page?
E-A: Which one please?
MD: The one I’ve told you about on the last two occasions.
E-A: Er gosh yes, ah well you see, ah well it’s just I’ve told the brochure people, I’ve told them and they just don’t, they just don’t er….
MD (perplexed): Sorry?
E-A (cowering): Yes I’ll do that, yes. Sorry.
E-A doodles illegibly on the print-out’s dark green background.
MD: You’re not going to be able to see that later you know.
E-A: I will! I can: look it says ‘omit…’ er.

Well, quite.

As he lolls back to the office and his cow pie we find the brochure with MD’s notes on left behind on a chair. Detention next I fear.


  1. Brilliant. Please say you are going to be writing every day. Am such a fan of Mother Dearest.

  2. Most enjoyable, Kate. I can really relate to your characterisation of 'the estate agent.' After a recession-elongated spell on the market, our house was eventually sold earlier this year. Small-talk with our smarmy female estate-agent became so tiresome, as we exchanged a multitude of self-satisfying platitudes about how we would soon attract a buyer for our 'gorgeous' barn, that I took to immersing myself in a book whenever she announced herself and a succession of nosey nobodies on the doorstep. Generally this was successful in sparing me from conversation as she focused her attentions upon summoning synonyms of 'terrific' from her estate-agents vocabulary to embellish her cliched description of our property. One day, unfortunately, the viewers were late and, unable to amuse herself on Facebook for Blackberry for ten minutes, she decided that it was time we 'caught up.' I had never quite understood why she appeared so patronising until she approached me, head buried in Plato's 'Republic' and looking distinctly stand-offish (or so I thought), if I was revising for my GCSEs. When I retorted with, 'No, I'm actually in my final year at University', 'Where?', 'Cambridge', her 'blonde, bmw-convertible, sunglasses, posh estate agents, rich husband persona' went down a notch or two in intensity. She looked suddenly wary and, deciding she had little more to say to me now that we had 'caught up' on about five years of my life which she didn't think existed, she decided that some solitary blackberrying was the way to go. In the aftermath of this incident, there was a notable change in the blurb given to prospective buyers as they approached the stairs to my bedroom. Whereas in the past, she would say something along the lines of 'this is Mr and Mrs Watson's daughter's bedroom, ideal for your young child/elderly relative/dog', she hit them with 'this is Mr and Mrs Watson's daughter's bedroom. She's at Cambridge, you know.' I'm sure our house suddenly became ten times more appealing given its being fit for a Cambridge student. No doubt she edited the glossy brochure to include this vital piece of information, added a few zeros to the value of our house accordingly and edited her CV to say 'accomplished in dealing with higher-end clients'. I need go no further, how utterly ridiculous.