When I first moved to Buckinghamshire nearly eighteen months ago, flat and house-viewings were of course priority. My sister-in-law and I found ourselves lost looking for an address written on a piece of paper, Tom-Tom being absolutely no help whatsoever.
It was the end of a tired evening and I ventured out into the darkness in an attempt to locate the said apartment whilst my sister-in-law parked in a nearby car park. I had a choice of two, rather like Alice at the crossroads in Underland, on the one hand; a lovely set of paradise apartments and on the other; a gated entrance of hell in the short distance opposite.
With happiness and hopeful glee, I walk over to the ‘lovely set of apartments’ surrounded by tiny palm trees, carefully manicured plants and green shrubbery. Although it was set on the main road, the new-build block appeared to be a prophetic vision with careful lighting and creamy coloured cladding.
I press the silver disc No. 1 and a low Bzz emanated, no answer. Jumping up and down on the spot to keep warm having left my jacket in the car, keeping my fingers crossed and trying to contain my enthusiasm, I selected the button once more. Bzzzz. Silence. Some sixty seconds later – the longest sixty seconds ever – still, nothing. Bzzzzzzzzzz! I thought I had transported myself to the crypt in Monkey Island, except without the buzzer of course. Dejected disappointment. This can’t be the flat then <sigh>. Excitement exasperated.
Through the use of sign-language and lip-reading, I converse through the windscreen with my sister-in-law in the dark, I signal to the building across the way. The bitter November wind sends shudders through my bones, so I sprint over to the black pointed gates. Take two. I pressed metal into brick hoping for a voice from the diseased metal box.
No plantations here, only grey cement, tarmac and a 1960s type burnt-toast outer layer trying to illuminate the night. Failing miserably. The interior was also not up to expectation. In a second, I can judge whether or not I am in love, in this regard, I do not faff around and my viewings are usually a total duration of two minutes tops – peep into the bedroom, kitchen, lounge and bathroom and instantly, I will know if I belong.
Needless to say, I did not take the apartment but co-incidence would have it, two months later I ended up in another flat within the same complex! After a six-month stint in High Wycombe, I have returned to the same flat, I refuse to believe this is fate, sometimes life is a means to an end. Hence, I am currently residing here and walk by the pretty flats opposite on a daily basis.
I wander past the ‘lovely set of apartments’ imagining the decor, questioning how any of these apartments could ever place themselves on the market, and how I would ever even find out. The façade of the building is clean, and new, and contemporary and punctuated with beautifully sculptured and well-proportioned balconies.
The entrance is through a secure set of double doors rather than a prison entry code, I imagine the flat has proper partitions rather than the useless tissue-thin walls separating the private and communal areas. I can literally hear my flatmate eat from the kitchen if I am in my bedroom, I can hear splashing bathwater in the bathroom if I am in the kitchen, I can hear my new flatmate *coughs* do other things if I happen to be walking across the hallway. Surely, this is just not right and I quickly fast forward to thoughts of a blissful place of my own, even if it is still only renting.
I have so far been concentrating on the town in which I work for my lavish new mansion and of course, so far, Lady Luck has not fared so well for me. The karma of the existing tenants and tenure holds much sway, and adds to the decision making process as well as the attractive demeanour of the property itself.
For example, the first apartment (Jack and the Beanstalk) half-naked-man-who-didn’t-have-a-clue matched the simplistic layout. The second apartment (The Frog Prince) recently-separated-invisible-man reflected the bare empty dark and dank outfolded cuboid, and the fourth apartment (unwritten account summary follows:) elderly-overweight-couple mirrored the darkness of the cellar-like batcave, though not quite so glamorous. It will be an interesting experiment when perhaps one day, I decide to purchase a property…will the same instinctive ‘knowing’ take precedence?
My colleague sent me some links for new available lettings in Aylesbury for inspiration, I clicked open the message, not really expecting anything fantastical. Lo and behold, a property caught my glazing eyes and I called the Estate Agents for an appointment. She sounded like a human – how refreshing considering the other robotically challenged dysfunctional personalitied agents I had spoken with previously.
She even went so far as expressing her opinion, It’s a beautiful property, I love it! I was quietly being amazed, I requested the address and it sounded familiar. I just wanted to ensure my brain had connected with my mind and there was a balanced and true understanding, and that I was not labouring under any misapprehensions: I requested further confirmation of the whereabouts.
Touring my internal visual GPS, I advised her that my only knowledge consisted of the Thai restaurant, Excellent! It’s directly opposite, I’ll meet you at the entrance, I already have an appointment at 5:30pm, let’s fit you in at 5:15pm – is that OK? My thoughts drifted for another nanosecond and I prevented myself from sounding like an overexcited schoolgirl, Yes! Of course, that’s absolutely fine. Look forward to meeting with you. I returned to my desk practically walking on water.
Great Palpitations! The letting was situated in the ‘lovely set of apartments’. Aaaaiiiieeeeeeee!!!!
Friday could not come fast enough, Fridays are generally good days for more than one reason. The first and foremost brilliant part of the final day of the week is leaving the office at 1430HRS. Win! Now I was finally about to lay my eyes upon an answer I question almost every other day when the building sidetracks into my periphery.
I head home, freshen up and decide I need to kill some time, I choose to pfaff. I am not superstitious but there is something about this flat viewing, I can feel it. Third time lucky? Or perhaps it is just the feeling of finally knowing the answer? I am pfaffing so much I nearly forget the time. I scoot across the road, and the waiting game begins. It turns out I am early so I play with my phone for the first five minutes trying to be virtuous.
5:20pm I walk over to the car park side of the entrance, Maybe that’s where she is waiting? Pass by a short, blonde man in a scruffy suit speaking boisterously into his mobile phone mentioning a flat viewing as if it is the most tedious event of his day but although noted in my brain, it does not really register or process as a significant detail as I am looking for the familiar face of a stranger.
5:21pm No face to recognise me. I walk back around to the entrance and call the Estate Agents. The receptionist greets me with Good afternoon, Neil Douglas, How can I help you? I am confused, slightly. The appointment is not with Neil Douglas, and I suddenly remember that I called the agency from the work phone. Daaarn! I don’t have their contact number.
I really have no choice but to wait, I explain to the receptionist I have the incorrect number and try not to look like an ultra-violet grape of a hobo (I am dressed top to toe in bright purple so much so that a random walked past me earlier in the day, and right in the silence between two tracks – I had my nanoman plugged into my ears – I heard him say That is my favourite colour! I hope that was meant in a nice way and not sarcastically, I really need to tone down my brightness, for one who is slightly self-conscious somehow I am drawn to vibrant colours, how does that work? Anyhow, babbling as usual, digressing, procrastinating, back to the story…
The blonde male in question whom I had already spotted was now loitering at the front of the property near the black well-kept railings. I regained my position on the path leading up to the entrance. After a few short minutes, he came over, I was going to cry if he was going to be my guide. Are you here for the viewing as well? I replied to confirm his suspicions and before I could take the conversation further, Estate Agent Lady appeared all beautiful and professional and super-cool brunette hair. Rather like a mature Kate Middleton. No lies. Are you both here for the viewing?
Yes, I say.
Yes, he says.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum no less. Of course, I am Dee. Which reminds of two teddy bears my aunt and I used to have when we were younger and we would constantly argue over the names as neither of us wanted to be ‘Dumb’. Estate Agent Lady seems somewhat flummoxed at the later appointment as he has turned up earlier than scheduled. You’re 5:15pm glancing at me, and you’re 5:30pm? You’re here early.
Blondie mumbles something incomprehensible in his apparent defence, or maybe I was just not paying enough attention as I was lost in my thoughts of the two bare bow-tied bears. The future Queen, I forget her name (it’s my absent-mind), regains composure in a second, It’s ok, I will take the both of you up. I was thinking, How is this double-viewing thing going to work then, this is turning into a disaster!
We enter and make our way to – the elevator – It has an elevator! and I think we alight on the second floor, through some double doors, and here we are, on the verge of knowing all the answers. Well, ok just one answer, but it’s e.x.c.i.t.i.n.g.
If there are two elements that humans love, the first is to sate curiosity, and the second is to gauge proof of the pudding. I’ll take you in one at a time – that will be easiest. I am relieved she is so clever, I do not volunteer Blondie to view first seen as though I originally had the earlier appointment. And selfishly, if the place is actually the definition of ‘lovely’ as I have for so long proposed, I want it all to my self, rather like the crazed cereal monster of the 1980s, I want my honey! (Have Crunchy Nut Cornflakes stolen the creative advertising campaign and turned it into a modern-day breakfast tale for adults?!)
I walk in. I want it. It was as simple as that. Honey Monster has arrived. Crossed with Incredible Hulk. It’s beautiful isn’t it? The words reach my ears through all the yellow fur and green rage of want. I force words out in reply so as to not appear an unsociable mute, Yes, it’s gorgeous! It’s exactly what I am looking for.
Stating the obvious here, but still. Kitchen; lounge; bedroom; bathroom; balcony; it is not on Jabberwocky scales of width and height, but it is, actually, quite, perfect. Did I say that already?
I was sure the girl who viewed it earlier was going to take the flat, I have been waiting for her to call me back but I’ve not heard, and she loved the place, I really thought she was going to take it. I am hypothesising, Is this standard sales speak? but she seems genuine enough so I give her the benefit of the doubt.
I ask for deposit and administration fee requirements as the papers are handed over to me over the black granite (mock or not, it’s still pretty) worktop in the kitchen, I experience a very strange sense of déjà vu. I am not even playing with you, or exaggerating. I feel it, just that split second, and nothing more. On top of which, there is of course, Sydney Harbour’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display flying throughout the sky of my mind, each thought a burst of deafening rainbow colour. It is becoming somewhat noisy inside my head as you can imagine. Sought-after development, perfect flat, indecisive earlybird, Blondie’s outside.
I confirm to the Duchess of Cambridge, with a curtsey, that I definitely want the apartment. Catch #1: I have to call the office to make the payment. Catch #2: I have to authorise funds transfer before I can make the ‘reservation’ payment. All the while, Blondie could potentially be partaking in the exactamundosame set of actions after his own viewing. Arrrgghhh!
I act as normal as possible, thank Estate Agent Lady, say goodbye, and continue the pretence that I am human as I pass Blondie in the corridor. As soon as he is behind my door number, I reveal my secret identity. I turn into my alter ego superhero: Purple Haze to the rescue…a cross between The Phantom and Daphne from Scooby Doo (remember I am dressed tippy-toe-to-head-in-purple-pink). I torpedo myself into the elevator, pressing the button a million times as if that entices my soon to be resident batcar to arrive any more rapidly.
Purple Haze waits for a menacing escape, bounces off walls, jumps up and down on the artificial floor, the elevator creaks loudly, the pulleys groan, Eeeek! screams our superhero, Yeah, some superhero! I thought I was going to be trapped so I consciously calmed down, willing the metal to part with my secret saiqic purple sonic boom powers. Ground floor. Yes!
I zoom through the double doors and hurdle my way over the traffic in a semi-visible violet rush. My phone starts ringing. I say ringing, but in fact, the music emanates from my hand. Who are you?!! At this most inopportune moment! I pick up the call whilst running *coughs* purple hazing, and I utter a breathless and flustered Hello?! I punch the code into the prison keypad, push the door open, sprint to the second entrance, punch the code into the second keypad and pull open the glazed door.
You ok, what’s happening?!
I’m going to go crazy, I’ve just found a flat, I need to pay the deposit!
Well, pay it then!
Not so simple, I have to transfer funds online, I have to switch the laptop on, then the internet! Blondie is in the flat right now! I shove the key into the front door.
Er, who is Blondie?!
Cacophony of laughter. All by myself. Well, not by myself, Honey Monster, Incredible Hulk, Phantom and Daphne are all present…
I will explain!
Can’t wait to hear the story, I haven’t ever heard you so excited…call me when you’re done!
I bang the front door shut, crashing through the portal into my bedroom . This is long. Grab my bag, grab my card, power up laptop. Unfold agency papers. Punch Estate Agent office number into phone. Click Google. Argh!! Why is Google is not loading. Forgot to switch Mi-Fi on. Switch Mi-fi on.
Good evening, how can I help you?
Hi, I’d like to pay a deposit please for the apartment, I’m just transferring funds although there is a second viewing currently on-going.
You may need to call back if you are making the transfer now, the payment is taken straight away. However, if you call back and the other party has already made the deposit, there is nothing we will be able to do as the property will have been secured by the other party…
I think this is somehow a little unfair, but this is no time for an argument whilst simultaneously understanding I cannot keep Receptionist on the phone whilst the online transfer takes place especially when the internet is NOT LOADING! It’s being totally BROKEN. OK, I will call you back in a few minutes.
I scream at the laptop, I scream at the internet, how does it manage to do this? At every other flippantly given moment, they are the two most happiest pieces of connectable technology in my possession. Why now?! The scene where Blondie calls the agency to pay the deposit is unravelling in my quadruple pairs of mind’s eyes…
Ah finally! Click on banking website. Loading icon – loads.
It’s still loading.
I nearly throw the laptop from my bed on to the floor but realise this is probably not such a good idea. It’s a conspiracy, the forces are totally against me, what happened to my nice karmic medium? If only Purple Haze had a superfast Purple Haze personal computer and account at Purple Haze Bank PLC. I think superhero Purple Haze persona is perhaps not doing so well in the calm Saiqa stakes. I nearly pass out so I cartwheel across my bedroom to kill the adrenalin.
Whoooop!! Transfer complete.
I call the Estate Agent office and – oh-so-relieved – to hear Blondie has not yet been in touch.
We’ll send you the reservation receipt and credit check application forms to you by email on Monday…
Eeeeek!!! I shriek (after closing the call in the human manner).
It really is a case of throwing your wants into the universe, I need to start asking for world peace or something…