Monday, September 24, 2012
Starting Over - Sunday
‘How long can we park here?’ I ask my wife anxiously as we pull up outside the faded grandeur of some semi-detached Victorian houses, now mostly converted to student flats. She studies the complicated sign that seems to offer residents permit parking at certain times of the day and free for all, subject to length of stay restrictions, at others. I’m baffled, but unlike my two sons I never made it to a University town, apart from to flog homes. I suppose it is part of the ageing process. Offspring get stronger, live longer and are smarter than their parents. At least if they get both get decent degrees they won’t end up estate agents.
‘I think we’ll be okay for a couple of hours.’ Answers my wife unconvincingly. It’s the sort of conviction she showed when left turned out to be right and a one-way street didn’t really work, if you were going the wrong way. I notice some curtains twitching and thank God the company doesn’t sign-write the cars or I wouldn’t park here at all. Youngest son appears looking taller and fitter than ever, pride and envy odd bedfellows.
‘You made it then.’ He announces by way of a greeting. He’s sat in the back for enough journeys to know it was never a given with my wife’s map reading and my patience. I answer in the affirmative and eye the steps warily. We have the car down on its rear shock absorbers and I’m the man who always tells punters doing your own removals is a false economy.
‘This is really nice.’ I say incredulously as I sit slumped in a leather sofa, back grumbling in tandem with my tummy. Boxes are strewn everywhere but this is still a high standard conversion, far superior to the first forays into the property market I made back in the eighties. Since when did students get picture bay windows, original fireplaces, full gas central heating and a huge 50-inch plasma television? No wonder they end up with thirty grand’s worth of debt. Thank goodness he didn’t opt for one of the comedy qualifications we always laugh at on CVs. If I get another graduate with a 2.2 in Theatre Studies or Event Management I’ll scream unconvincingly and lay out some trestle tables.
‘So this is like the nearest shops and stuff.’ Informs my son after I’ve crosschecked the inventory like an over-zealous astronaut on lift-off then noted the flaws on a snagging list. I’m the guarantor after all and if the landlord thinks I’m coughing for the iron-shaped burn on the bedroom carpet he can think again. We’ve walked into a secondary/tertiary shopping area, peopled by estate agents and take-away food outlets. The rents will be cheaper here and A2 and A3 commercial planning consent easier to obtain. I look inside each competitor and check out the staff. One office is having a meeting, staff grouped around the manager’s desk at the back. I grudgingly approve then move on to the cheaper operators where the telltale signs are shown by window displays with bulbs out and weeds growing on the forecourt. Cheap fee, cheap service I conclude.
‘I hate to say this but this is quite a cool shop.’ States my son as we wheel a trolley round a barn-like home goods store. He’s selected a beanbag, some matching duvet covers and a collapsible clothes dryer. It only seems like moments ago he was playing Pokemon on his hand held Gameboy. I’ll be getting mail-shots from undertakers offering funeral plans soon. I’ve already been insulted by the Saga holidays brochure arriving un-requested.
‘Afternoon.’ Greets a neighbour warily as my wife and I finish unloading the car, son already inside with a supermarket-sweep’s-worth of food and drink we’ve paid for. The man looks comfortable middle class and has emerged from one of the few houses yet to be converted. I’m guessing he’s hoping we might be moving in rather than three more teenagers with loud shirts, loud music and late nights a plenty.
‘Neighbours seem nice.’ I tell my son as I check my watch for the long journey home.
‘Not sure I’d buy here.’ He says
Not for another twenty years on current trends.
Moving and shaking with the property ebook here: