The estate agent is angry. His usually chirpy cockney patter has given way to something a little harsher and more menacing.

“Can you just explain why, please madam, because I will obviously have to tell your vendor who is going to want to string me up…”

I have just told the estate agent that we are not, after all, going to buy the derelict house he has been trying to flog to us for the last four months. We are pulling out. Why? Because we can’t bloody well afford it, that’s why. And it’s a rip off. It smells, it has no functioning kitchen or bathroom, the roof is about to fall down, and it costs nearly quarter of a million pounds. I’ve heard of a worse deal, but it was struck at a crossroads, at midnight, with a cloven-hooved stranger.

“We just thought better of it,” I reply. I’m enjoying this. Finally, I can stick it to the estate agent, after months of having to laugh at his sexist jokes, compliment him on his nauseating shiny clothes and generally suck up to him. “It’s too expensive.”  

“I see. Well obviously I think you’re making the wrong decision.” He sounds really pissed off. Ha. Good. “You do realise that this is absolutely the only house you are going to get in this area for this price? If you drop out now, you are staying right where you are.”

“I know. I’m okay with that.” And the funny thing is, I am. I thought I was desperate to move out of our slightly-too-small flat, in which there is barely room for a dining table, let alone for a baby and an increasingly boisterous toddler intent on practising flying kicks. But the moment we decided to stay here, all the stress lifted from my shoulders as if by magic.

Our flat may be too small, but it doesn’t smell, the roof is – thus far – intact and it doesn’t require Curly and I to enslave ourselves to a huge mortgage. Though they will miss out on having their own rooms, the kids will hopefully appreciate having parents who aren’t out of their minds with stress. Also, seeing as we are saving tens of thousands of pounds by not moving, I might be able to get that ice-cream maker I’ve been lusting after. Hell, I could even treat myself to a new coat – even Curly thinks my mud-stained Primark puffa is looking a bit past its best, so it must be really bad.

“Right. Well I’d better make the call then.” The estate agent sighs. Dammit, despite myself I am starting to feel a teensy bit sorry for him. 

“Look, just tell him circumstances changed. There are redundancies at work, and we don’t feel able to take the risk.”

“Ah! I see. Now I understand.” Clearly redundancy is an obstacle the estate agent has encountered before, and his voice takes on a hint of its previous cockiness. “But you mustn’t let that worry you my dear. If you lose your job you can always come and work here with me. We’re run off our feet!”

AuthorAlice O'Keeffe