The lady standing on the doorstep did not need to tell me what she thought of my house, because the look on her face said it all.
I was still fussing over the minor details of how the place looked while the builder boyfriend waited for me in the car, engine running, because we get out of the way for viewings. Plumping cushions, sweeping dog hair off sofas, I suddenly noticed that the viewing had arrived and was standing crossly waiting, her back to me. She turned and looked through the half open door:
‘Are you the agent?’ She was fuming, you could see that. I said I was the owner but if the agent was late and she was in a hurry I could show her round. She looked at her watch and said the agent was indeed a few minutes late and she could not possibly be expected to hold on any longer.
‘My husband was meant to come but he had an important business call and sent me,’ she said. She was a tall woman, silver-haired, porcelain-skinned, blank and severe looking.
Her husband, a developer – or had the agent said investor? – I had looked up and found out that he lived in a vast and opulent country pile.
‘Come in, come in, don’t stand on the doorstep,’ I said, in as friendly a way as I could. ‘Well, if you’re sure, dear…’ I now placed her accent. She was posh Australian. She walked in gingerly, looking as though the place might be mined. She had on a Burberry mackintosh which she clutched around her as if for protection from some hostile force that might lurk within the walls of a terraced cottage.
The sarcasm in her voice she could not help, I don’t think.