The cottage in Surrey has fallen through, for the time being at least. Maybe I am going to be a country girl again at some point, but for now it’s looking like I will have to remain a while longer in Bal-ham, gazing longingly towards the south.
The owners of the cottage in Ripley pulled out, after I failed to sell my flat quickly enough. To be fair, I had promised I would be under offer within days, because that is how it has always been before.
I have had the place on the market twice in the past two years, and both times it was snapped up in a matter of hours at the asking price. On those occasions, I was then not able to negotiate the right price on the property I was trying to buy. So I decided this time to get an offer accepted first, then put my flat on the market.
Sod’s law kicked in, of course, so that no sooner was my offer accepted on the idyllic cottage in the country than the referendum campaign got going and my sale was scuppered by market uncertainty.
I have had lots of viewings, but they have all been so outrageously picky that I can only conclude they are fishing for a bargain. Every single one has mooched round disparagingly before declaring: ‘It needs a total refurb.’
When the agent first told me this, I pointed out that Stefano the Albanian had painted and decorated the flat to within an inch of its life last year, or maybe it was the year before, but in any case it still looks pristine. It was also rewired and soundproofed, with new wardrobes fitted in both bedrooms.
Just before I put it on the market, I had Tony the plumber install a new bathroom with rainfall shower. So what is it about the place, pray, that needs refurbing?
The agent couldn’t quite explain. But she did point me to another property in the same road that had sold for a very good price after the owners removed most of its walls and installed bifold doors on to the garden. I took a deep breath. Be calm, I told myself. Do not be provoked.
When the next viewing had taken place they sent me the same feedback. ‘Needs a total refurb.’ And after half a dozen more viewings all saying the same thing, along with a complaint that the garden faced the wrong way, I rang the agent.
‘Now look here. I don’t want to hear any more of this so-called feedback. I cannot turn my garden round to face south, that much ought to be obvious.
‘And I don’t care who says my flat needs a total refurb. You could tell me Linda Barker, Kevin McCloud and Kirstie Allsopp have all viewed it and derided its lack of bifolding doors, jack and jill sinks, poured concrete floors and neon sign on the kitchen wall saying LOVE! — I don’t want to hear it.
‘I have something called taste, and if that is difficult for today’s house-hunters to understand then so be it. I won’t sell. I will live here all my life with my alcove shelves full of books — yes, that’s right: books — and open fires and actual pots for cooking hanging above the stove. I refuse to give in to the forces of chav-enism.
‘I am not going to break all the planning laws of this conservation area to add chunks on to it. I am not going to bow to the liberal tofu-munching tendency to rip up my nice beige carpets and walk on bare floorboards. I am not going to rip out my newly installed ‘antico’ bathroom fittings to install taps that spurt the water out in the form of a cascading infinity edge fountain.
‘And I’m not going to rip the back wall off this lovely period property and install bifold bleedin’ doors!’
It’s all very confusing. If it’s a Remain vote, I expect the flat will sell the next day. But in that case, I intend to flee to a sunnier part of the European empire. There’s no point staying behind in this rainy old outpost being run by Germany. If it’s a Leave vote, maybe the market will go bang and I won’t be able to move anywhere.
All I know is, I will not be able to look myself in the mirror if I don’t vote Leave. I must vote with my conscience in the long-term interests of democracy.
And if that means I wake up to a world in which my flat won’t sell for months or even years, then so be it. At least I will be stuck in an old-fashioned flat in a forward-looking city in a country where we have won back our freedom.