Making my way towards the estate agents on yet another beautifully sun spilled late afternoon, I am hoping I will clasp my eyes on the flat of my dreams. Permit me the optimism audience, I do not ‘do’ rose-tinted spectacles.
I spy some gorgeous iron-wrought balconies on the first floor and think Ooooh, quite wrongly with hindsight, That’s my flat fam (I talk to myself often enough it is no longer a crazy thing, do not bear the worry).
I am a bit bright for the town I live in, my luminous red hairband twinkles amongst my choppy curls as I push through the heavy door and bounce into the agency whilst simultaneously turning down the volume on my nanoman. I bet they think I have come to the wrong place!
I am greeted by a lovely lady who I assume is thinking I am slightly deranged with my radioactive red tights, It’s all about colour-blocking this season, come on now. I wish I had some sunglasses to give to her but I left my spare Fendis at home, tsk!
Hi, I have an appointment at 3.00pm?
Miss Aftab? I nod my head with agreed confirmation kindly thinking You’re taking the easy route and not trying to pronounce my first name and chuckle inwardly.
Great, I’ll take you up now?
Sure, thank you!
I know the flat is located above an office, however, not the office that I was expecting – i.e. we are walking in the opposite direction of my pretty iron art. Already? I am thinking to myself, intuition kicking in.
Estate Agent Woman instead leads me towards an inconspicuous, creamy, golden coloured frame glazed door, which I have never noticed before, and I thought I was quite familiar with the town centre. Evidently, not.
I follow her obediently into the, um, corridor? The carpet is beige / brown / whatever that standard colour of carpet which the kingdom of landlords seem to think is enduring and hides the dirt well, when really it is used simply because it is the most cost effective solution. The carpet does not hide the dirt, it collects the microscopic cretins. The carpet is a harbour awash with germs sailing on black fibres, taking adventure on click-clicking heels. Ugh!
It’s on the third floor, she advises me.
It smells funny, I advise me.
I cannot quite identify the odour but it is near enough suffocating, I am sure all will be revealed, hoping that it is not emanating from the flat I am about to peruse. Well, it could still be nice I think to myself, third floor just means more security and that is no bad thing at all.
At the top of the first flight of steep, tight, spiral staircase steps, we reach another door, with a lock on it. Odd. Estate Agent Woman unlocks the door and all of a sudden there’s a word and a scuffle. The word resembles a mumbled W-a-a-a-i-t. The voice, male, sounds European. A-ha! That’s what the smell is, it is the smell of boy.
Estate Agent Woman does not look impressed and scowls, seemingly embarrassed but not hiding it well, We emailed him yesterday, the tenant knows there’s a viewing. I am not fussed, I am here for the property, not the human. It’s fine, I say.
For a while, there is silence and some scuttling, I wonder whether a giant rat is lodging in the abode. We continue to wait at the bottom of the second set of stairs. I do not spot any form of lighting, it would seem that my nightly entertainment, should I agree to the letting, would be let-me-take-a-turn-about-the-stairs-and-break-my-neck-and-depart-for-casualty-immediately instead of watching the new series of The Apprentice (which, in fact, might be more entertaining, eek – my apologies, but business partners, seriously Lord Sugar?).
Claudio? Estate Agent Woman throws the question into the air like an arrow piercing a tree.
I pause time here. [I have the ability to do this, who needs the Tardis?]
Claudio, eh? That’s exotic, confirms earlier European guess. So he’s Italian, or Greek or Latin, perhaps.
…and a man appears before us at the top of the stairs. Half naked. Baring his chest, and his enormous – belly. I look down, surmising more of the scrummy carpet, I do not quite know where to put my eyes. At least it is not hairy (See Beauty and the Beast).
What a waste of a thought when I paused time, I will never regain those few seconds. Fancy, it could have been anyone and he greets us with his-stranger indecency. Who on earth was he expecting? Pippa Middleton?! And as if he could even possibly win the likes of her?!
Claudio remains standing at the top of the stairs, like the giant on top of the beanstalk. I feel like Jack, come to steal his gold. The giant, speaks.
Fe Fi Fo Fum!
Craig sent you an email yesterday, didn’t you know about the viewing? replies Estate Agent Woman.
I smell the blood of a British-Asian-woman!
Well, we’ll go up and have a look then, is that OK? asks Estate Agent Woman politely.
Be she alive, or be she dead, I’ll crush her bones with my belly in my bed!
I have to stifle the silent giggling just in case I accidentally Mexican-wave my hands in the air whilst frantically screaming, one-two-stepping down the stairs like a crazed Alice being chased by Jabberwocky.
Estate Agent Woman and I walk up the carpeted stairs and somehow pass naked Jack-ass Giant, he temporarily disappears – to where? Only Tarzan should be naked, and only then, in the jungle.
We start with the bathroom, it is a room with a bath and a toilet and a sink. Nothing fantastical like say, the Davies Penthouse at Claridge’s <dreams>. I am disappointed, the pinnacle of any accommodation is the bathroom, if that is not contrived of diamond granite, the remainder of the property is not going to be up to scratch, in fact, more than likely, the rest of the interior will be all scratched up!
The bedroom, larger than expected, is decently sized and there is much in the way of storage, This is a good thing, and considering it was on the town’s main square, there was no noise. Bonus, sleepful nights would be in store for me here at least.
The ‘open-plan’ kitchen lounge, literally, consists of kitchen units running along the far wall and encompasses work top, washing machine, oven, electric hob Fail, fan and vent complete with peeling protective cover Not so attractive. I observe the loneliness of the small pine-esque dining table and chair-set near the windows, noting the unfortunate lack of sculptured wrought iron I envisaged at the outset.
The fridge is, white, empty and its doors are wide open. Light and airy, but bland and dull, unexciting. Giant really has no gold to steal, just some fresh bread sitting on the tabular. I also note a sofa is not present, There is absolutely not a little piggy chance in hell that seating could even be navigated up those pretend-Cinderella staircases. Never mind my 42” television. Mediocrity. Next. <sigh> Feel like I am on a date all over again (See You’ve been tango’d).
However, comedy value presented itself as Jack the Giant Ass calls Goodbye as we walk past the bedroom, as he sits, still half-naked, on his bed…