She can be sweetly naïve at times, but with her compensatory assets nobody will complain - until everything starts to droop.
‘Never say never.’ I respond. The phrase is meant to sound sage and worldly-wise - it certainly did in my head - but just comes out pompous.
‘You said Hips wouldn’t last.’ Contributes assistant manager T. ‘Predicted they would fail.’
I also predicted they would be scrapped before the pointless legislation was enacted. Got that wrong. Hoped the parade of housing ministers, who changed more often that trainee F rotates his socks, would see sense and junk the unwanted and un-read documentation, in-line with the advice from those in the industry. Wrong again.
‘Nobody ever asked me to see a pack.’ Announces F. He’s right. All the clumsy documentation did was hold-up the process; add another layer of bureaucracy and screw-up first day marketing of homes. It’s just about the only time those who actually work in the business, agreed with that Kirsty whats-her-face off the television.
‘Doomed to failure.’ I announce portentously, like that old Scotsman from that Dad Army programme I used to watch as a kid.
‘You should have written to an MP or something,’ Pontificates F a little vacantly. ‘Warned them it wouldn’t work.’ He clearly doesn’t read my Blog – probably just as well. I lobbied in my own toothless way; others took the more direct route. But despite the proposal faltering, and being watered-down more often than gin in a Soho strip joint, the last housing minister holding the poisonous parcel when the music stopped, pushed the button anyway.
‘I’m not very happy about this.’ Drones the bean counter boss when he comes on the line mid-morning. ‘It’s a valuable earning channel being denied us.’ Being a number-cruncher and not an estate agent, the arse of an accountant never did understand what motivates sellers. How the difficult decision to market your home - to sometimes just test the water, or hope to secure that one property you’d move for - would be scuppered by several hundred quid’s worth of pointless paperwork up-front.
‘Apparently we could make up the shortfall by selling pet insurance.’ I announce to the team derisively, after I’ve hung-up. Mortgage man M nods in avaricious agreement, a dribble of something greasy sliding down his chin. Then in comes the sartorially adrift - since he stopped wearing suits - downtrodden guy. The one who used to sell homes.
‘Well that’s me screwed.’ He announces morosely, causing lettings trollop B to look up briefly, then return to her computer screen when she realises it’s one of the few men she doesn’t want to shag. The fact is, I warned him not to re-train as a Home Inspector (after I’d toyed with it briefly as an escape route, myself) but he went ahead and put his faith in a failing government, intent on legislating for every single eventuality just because the public couldn’t be trusted. Went ahead and spent several thousand pounds with a spurious training agency with some incomprehensible E-learning package they are probably now flogging, with a quick programme revision, to the NHS.
‘It’s just EPCs for me now, I suppose.’ Predicts the man dejectedly. ‘I can’t make enough to live-off from them.’ The Energy Performance Certificates he produces, with their colourful washing machine-style efficiency bandings are remaining, to toe the European Union line, but they have about as much bearing on a buying decision as the colour of my tie - or the sincerity of my smile.
‘I’ve been badly let down.’ Concludes the ex-agent as he slumps out of the office and despite myself I remind him there’s no hurry for his paperwork any longer, as we have 28 days to append it to our details now. Callously I’m cheered briefly by his discomfort, if only because it could so easily have been me.
‘I’ve been badly let down.’ Echoes the next voice I hear, as an owner who listed his home recently, realises he’s coughed for a bundle of documents that are only good for fire lighting.
‘I blame you lot.’ He adds as a wounding sign-off.