As a self-taught liar, I’ve always felt I’d make an excellent estate agent. A while ago now, some friends of mine decided it was time to move out of their homes and create their very own den of iniquity in rented accommodation. They asked me if I wanted to join them. We each scoured the internet searching for cheap flats that would comfortably fit the three of us, and found a few possibilities. We called the agents representing these flats and arranged viewings. Simples.
‘It looks like a prison block,’ I hissed as me and one of the friends approached the large, grey, council estate type building. The friend waved her hand dismissively. ‘It’s a good location,’ she said ‘and it’s cheap.’ We climbed the ominous stone steps up to the second floor. I noticed there was no stale urine smell, and felt relieved, although at the same time a vivid image of an estate agent frantically pouring boiling water down the stairs, whilst simultaneously crying and wondering if they’d ever be able to follow their dream of being a classical pianist, flashed into my mind.
We knocked on a red door that had a peep-hole but no windows and waited. No one answered. I leaned over the balcony and saw a man who I instantly stereotyped as a Nazi sympathiser, holding a dog lead that had a large black Mastiff on the other end.
‘Oh look,’ said my friend. ‘The guy’s coming now.’
‘Good morning! sorry I’m late. Traffic was a nightmare,’ said the estate agent. Cue megawatt smile. A set of keys appeared in his hands. ‘Shall we go in?’
I gave my friend a look that said ‘must we?’, but found myself walking inside anyway.
The carpet was bright red and matched the door. ‘So, this is the hallway,’ said the cheerful Estate Agent.
‘What’s that?’ said my friend, pointing at the floor. We looked. Arranged in an almost ritualistic style was a circle of dead flies, about ten of them. No one said anything.
‘Well, of course they’ll be gone when the keys are exchanged,’ said the agent.
‘Or they could be our new pets,’ my friend suggested, giving me The Look. The estate agent tittered nervously and pushed us into the living room, which was admittedly quite nice. But the image of the flies stuck fast. He led us upstairs to show us the bedrooms.
‘Now this is bedroom number one,’ he said. My friend, being braver than I, pushed open the door and entered. She stood in the middle of what I would optimistically call a space to store your vacuum and maybe some old coats. The other bedrooms were better, but only because the first one was so bad.
We left pretty quickly, and the estate agent, sensing he was holding a whip and standing in front of a dead horse, almost ran for the safety of his BMW.
The search for the perfect flat died not long after that viewing, with all of us realising we were better off in the homes we were already living in, at least for the foreseeable future.