On the Market: When property viewings go bad

Rachel Love

Rachel Love - Credit: Archant

Rachel had an awkward experience when a local councillor came to view her house...

“We have someone coming to view the house today.” My mum’s words fill me with that familiar feeling of ‘I’ve-got-to-move-out-sooner-or-later’ dread.

I was expecting her to say it, the house has been on the market for weeks and someone was bound to take an interest, but there’s a little sentimental niggle that toys with me.

“Please don’t talk to him while he is here, not after what happened last time,” she says. I nod, and I mean it, but I can’t officially promise anything.

“He’s a councillor or something… a Hertfordshire councillor, I think.”

To be honest I didn’t really know what a councillor was, all I knew was that a councillor had to be clever and posh and old. In my head this bloke was on a par with the royal family, or at least the prime minister.

I feel a ripple of anxiety, partly because I’m about to meet a friend of the Queen but also because there’s a very real possibility that he will take my house, change it, add and remove things and we will be forgotten, our memories erased.

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“He’s here! Stand with me by the door! No, actually we shouldn’t stand too near the door, we don’t want to overwhelm him. Stand over there.” She gestures towards the kitchen. Shaking her head in mild panic, she says “Just look natural!”

I lean against the doorway of the kitchen, looking femme fatale.

“No, not like that. Just stand normally.” I put my hands on my hips and look like Peter Pan. I’m clammy. I wonder if he will shake my hand, go in for a kiss on the cheek, a kiss on both cheeks, nothing at all. What do posh, clever, old people do in these situations?!

It’s too late, mum has opened the front door and he’s looming in the hallway. He has a stoic, austere presence. Not cut out for this place at all, if you ask me.

“How do you do?” I’d never heard someone actually use that phrase before, he sounds like Professor Snape, it’s terrifying but mesmerising. He reaches for my hand. Time moves slowly, will he shake my hand and give a cheek kiss? Two? None?

And that’s when things get awkward.

I grab onto his hand, bow my head and curtsy. I curtsy to crotch level and look straight ahead in realisation of what this must look like. I look from crotch to councillor face, crotch to councillor face until I come to my senses.

The curtsy was so low to the ground that my back knee rested on the floor for a few seconds, like I was waiting for him to knight me.

I arise, Sir Rachel, and look at him desperately as if hoping he didn’t notice.

“I curtsied, I curtsied… Did you see?” I say with shame. Well, if he hadn’t noticed before, he certainly did now.

“Oh god.” Mum places a hand over her face in disbelief.

“Yes, I saw,” he retorts, shaking me off his hand like I’m a thirsty mosquito.

We guide him around the house in near silence. When we get to my bedroom I decide to take the lead. Mum looks at me nervously and I can almost hear her thoughts; “Don’t do anything inappropriate!”

I hold my arms outstretched as I guide the clever man in.

“And here, mister councillor, is where the magic happens.”

“Oh dear god,” mum groans.

“I mean sleep, sleep, SLEEP! Nothing perverted! I’m not a pervert!” But he’s clearly uncomfortable.

When he leaves, he leaves quickly and without shaking hands.

The saga continues…