Tuesday May 23, 2006
“It seems that a previous offer on your house, one that failed, has left full, current copies of the searches and enquiries on file, John,” Sally our solicitor said. “Would you like me to buy them rather than make new ones? It could save a good deal of time, and would mean I’ll have all the basic paper on my desk by the end of this week.”
Well, of course, I approved the deal. It’s not clear to me exactly how much time will be pared off of the overall process but the sooner we are ready to exchange contracts the better. The most important document is the search against local council records, identifying proposed developments that may impact on the quality of life and hence future values that the prospective buyer of a property can expect. It does sometimes happen that this vital bit of paper is held up in council offices due to staff shortages, so it’s good to have that possibility of delay set to one side.
It’s looking as if the likelihood of our being ready to exchange contracts by the end of next week is growing stronger by the day. When we reach that stage any delay will be down to the sellers and, judging by the way their solicitor has acted so far, not likely to be significant.
“You know what they say about plans, mice and men,” I said to Graham when I reported progress. “Even so, we do seem to be getting to the point of no return a lot faster than I’d thought possible.”
“You seem to be in control of it all,” he said. “So far as I’m concerned the sooner it’s settled the better.”
“Oh, fear not,” I said. “I am in control. I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t sure of that.”
“Good. Just show me where to sign when we get to that stage. Now, Taunton?”
“Yup. Taunton sounds good.”
The main reasons for spending the greater part of Graham’s day off shopping in Taunton was so he could obtain a cheap backup mobile phone he can use while his posh, expensive one is off being repaired. He also needed one of those USB storage keyring things so’s he can walk his MS Publisher files from the laptop in the caravan to the computer system in the club office.
Strolling from the carpark to the Vodafone shop I caught a whiff of sausages cooking on one of those portable kitchen things in the pedestrian precinct.
“Mmmmm,” I said. “Sausage inna bun!”
“You don’t want that,” Graham said. “Not really, you don’t.”
“Oh, yes I do. I didn’t have breakfast and I’m starving. It wouldn’t do to get between me and my sausage inna bun when I’m this hungry.”
“Well, rather you than me. I’ll go get my phone and you can stay here and indulge your filthy habit. Just be sure to finish it before I get back.”
So, off he went, intent on his business and I turned to the straw-hatted bloke on the Hot Sausage Company stall. “One regular sausage, with onion,” I said, reaching into my coin purse for the £1.60p it was going to cost me.
“You want relish on that?”
“No, ta. Leave it open and I’ll put my own mustard on.”
And I sat down, tucking into my searingly hot sausage and onion, drenched in English mustard, and ignoring all gazes from passers-by, approving and disapproving, until the last morsel was done and I’d cleaned the last of the mustard from my moustache and fingers. I looked up when I’d finished, spotted the Vodafone shop across the road, and settled to wait. Didn’t have to wait long.
“You’re looking pleased with yourself,” I said. “Did you get a good deal?”
“Brilliant. You missed a bit of mustard on your chin.”
Over large mugs of coffee in Starbucks he produced his purchase for inspection. He’d bought a fully-serviced, reconditioned Sony-Ericsson model, basic but functional. It cost him only twenty quid and operated faultlessly using the SIM card from his disfunctional posh phone.
“You know what?” he observed. “I shall miss the camera but, as phones go, this is easier and smoother to use than the posh one.”
“That’s why I always go for cheap, basic phones,” I said. “The posh ones are too complicated for me. And unreliable, too.”
“I thought you wanted one with a decent camera.”
“I do. But not urgently enough to tackle the bleeding edge of technology. All I really need is a good, reliable phone. I’ll stick with the one I have until they’ve ironed out the bugs in the new models.”
We had the chance to test out his new phone earlier than planned because when we finished our coffee we parted ways again, me to the library to use one of the Internet terminals, and him on a tour of the town centre stores to find the USB thingy. I walked into the Internet area of the library, to find it strangely quiet and empty. Taped to each terminal was a notice stating that the network is undergoing essential maintenance and will be unavailable until tomorrow afternoon. I walked outside to phone Graham and tell him, and fix a place where we could meet up when he was finished.
“Don’t bother,” he said. “I’m having no joy here at all. Stay where you are and I’ll be along in a couple of minutes. We’ll have to go to PC World, I’m afraid.”
It came on to rain just then so I huddled under the canopy outside the library while I waited, watching people scurrying past holding newspapers and magazines over their heads to save themselves a wetting. I was just reaching for my camera when Graham came along to scoop me up and get us on our way to PC World, out on the other side of town.
“Sorry ’bout this,” he said. “I know you don’t like driving over here but I really need that storage thing.”
“No problem. I can pop into Staples while we’re there and get a new boxfile to hold the house purchase papers.”
He picked up a splendid little thing at a good price, by Toshiba, with 256mb capacity and about the same size and weight as a slim-line box of matches.
“That’s astonishing,” I said. “Particularly when you think how little time has passed since I was so thrilled with the 10mb hard disk on my IBM PC/XT. And that was a monstrously huge thing by comparison.”
“Could have got a cool gigabyte model, same size, if I’d needed one.”
“Time marches on,” I said. “And so does my digestion. All that’s left of my sausage inna bun is an occasional burp. Let’s call in at Sainsbury’s for lunch and dinner fixings and make our way home before I’m desperate for food once more.”
We did that, and on our return, took ten minutes to do a drive by the very nice house I’d rejected at the start of the house hunting exercise. I was delighted to see that it had sold—it’s a really nice house, and I liked the vendor—but even more pleased that Graham realised immediately that I’d been right to turn it down.
“It may have been disappointing at the time,” he said. “But I think we’ve done way, way better with the house in Bridgwater.”
I burped gently, my sausage inna bun settling a little further into my digestive system. “Pardon me,” I said. “Can we go home now? I’m really ready for my lunch.”
Back in the caravan, lunch was good, my siesta was good, and our evening and dinner were good, too.
“It’s been a satisfactory day,” Graham said, snapping the VCR off. “Got stuff done, rested up, and I’ve caught up with the new Doctor Who series.
“I’ve enjoyed it, too,” I said. “Mind you, any day that has a sausage inna bun in it has to be good.”
“If you say so.”
“I do. I do.”