Wednesday May 3, 2006
This house-hunting game is worse than working for a living. It’s a heads-down, nose to the grindstone kind of business, requiring every last atom of your energy and attention. I’m not complaining. It’d be stupid beyond words to complain about something you’ve been looking forward to doing for the best part of a year.
Even so, my diligence was tested to the extreme in Minehead today.
It was hobby horse day, you see. When energetic young men and women dress up in strange country costumes and dance round the town to the sound of drums and flutes, all a-flutter with gaudy ribbons and made bold by the good strong West Country cider they are gifted with at every pub on the way. It’s a riot. It’s fun. And my camera really, really wanted to get out of the bag and click merrily away. I would have liked to join in with the fun, too. I could have done with some fun today.
Instead, dutiful to the end, I focused on the task at hand, trudged from estate agent to estate agent, registering my name, address, phone number and requirements at each one, sitting in stuffy offices instead of being out in the good fresh air and sunshine.
The Minehead exursion was more fruitful, as I expected. I didn’t find the little old house of my dreams but I did come away with a fistful of house details that seemed reasonably interesting. I fear that, in the Minehead area, we’d need almost exactly twice as much money as we have to spend to buy the little old house of our dreams.
Lunch time in the caravan is late, somewhere between two and three, when Graham finishes his morning bar stint, leaving a junior to serve the steady trickle of customers through the afternoon and until about seven in the evening. Even so, I was running close against the clock when I finished with the Minehead agents, grabbed lunch makings and drove back along the road to St Audries. I was just in time to catch Graham as he finished, and we drove down to the caravan.
Just about then they turned the sun on to full summer power and it got hot. Really hot. Thankfully, the bedroom end of the caravan is shielded from the worst of the sunshine so Dolly has a nice cool spot under the bed and over a vent where she can doze happily. I leave a fan running, too, keeping the air circulating, so she’s not at all bothered. In fact she seems to revel in it.
It was too hot for me, though. After lunch I could think of nothing but the delights of a shades-drawn, long summer afternoon siesta. All three of us were thinking much the same thing, so it seemed.
When we woke, Graham grabbed the house details and pored carefully through them while I made tea.
“What do you think about them?” I asked, handing him a steaming mug of the golden brew.
“Don’t know. Need to think about it.”
“Me too. They leave my candle in a distinctly unlit condition so far.”
“Come up for a pint later on when it’s quiet and we’ll talk about it then.”
“I shall do that.”
When he’d toddled off along the cinder track to the club house I sat down to go through the house details, studying them minutely and rejecting them all one by one. Sigh. No-one, least of all me, thought that it was going to be easy.
“I’m off for my pint, Dolly,” I said, giving her a small-scale tummy tickle.”
She yawned mightily, quite tired out after a long day’s sleep, and ready to get a little nap in as compensation. Just as well that sloth isn’t a sin for cats.
Half way along the cinder track, where it changes to tarmac by the club house, I paused for a while to look out over the sea, revelling in the sunset. The sky was almost free of cloud so it wasn’t a photo-opportunity kind of sunset, but I gazed at the scene with deeply peaceful satisfaction. I could so easily have dug into my pocket there and then, handed over a cheque, purchased a large residential caravan, and settled down here for the duration. It’s always the same when we’re here between houses. It’d be a wonderful place to settle. Apart from the financial insecurity and dodgy tenancy conditions, that is.
“Now,” I said, nursing my Ice Cold in Alex glass of near-frozen Foster’s, “what about these houses?”
“They’re all crap.”
“Good. I think so, too. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.”
“You still set on Taunton for tomorrow?”
“Call in at Cotford St Luke on your way. I’ve heard good things about Cotford St Luke.”
“Me too. And Lidyeard St Lawrence.”
“Cotford is easier to spell.”
“That’s true. I’ll note the proper spelling of Lidyeard tomorrow.”
“You could always check it on the Internet.”
“Too expensive. It can wait until tomorrow.”
Back in the caravan I stuck my dinner in the microwave and sat down to enjoy it, turning the telly on to see what they might be showing for my entertainment. All I could find was a lurid and overly graphic documentary on The Search for the Perfect Penis, exploring the strange world of surgical penile extension.
“Oh lawks, Dolly,” I said, snapping the TV off as quick as I could. “That’s not suitable viewing for a chap while he’s tucking into a sausage casserole. Or any other time, really.”
I swear she sniggered, and I can’t find it in myself to blame her. I turned the radio on and finished my meal to Mozart.
“This is better, Dolly,” I said. “I do like a nice bit of Mozart.”