When You Dream

With life just begun, my sleeping new son
Has eyes that roll back in his head
They flutter and dart
He slows down his heart
And pictures a world past his bed.
It’s hard to believe as I watch you breathe –

Your mind drifts and weaves
When you dream.

Sleeper Jr, in a rare moment of both wakefulness and calm.

On June 4th, the little chap pictured in the sonogram below finally decided to show up, over a week late. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, in more than one sense of the word. I won’t talk about the hospital experience too much because I’ve been told by two independent healthcare workers involved in little’un’s care that I should be making a formal complaint about it. So more on that later. For now though it’s back to the office on Monday. Hopefully there I can catch up on some rest!

Some Fantastic

One day I will build a fountain, drink and never grow old.
Then I’ll market an elixir that will eliminate the common cold
Find your sickness on my list, pay up front and make a list.

There’s a lot I will never do,
Some fantastic – I know it’s true
But none so much as my want to be with you.

Sometimes things just can’t be said out loud, or put into words. So I won’t. This post is to symbolise all the things I can’t put into words, all the memories that I have of the last 22 years.

There’s nothing more to say.

It’s all been done

I knew you before the West was won.
And I heard you say,
“The past was much more fun.”
You go your way, I go mine –
But I’ll see you next time.

It’s all been done,
It’s all been done.
It’s all been done before!

Two conversations of interest this afternoon in the the ever-complicating saga of the house, though this time it’s sheer incredulity that I’m left with, rather than anything else.

The first conversation was a call from my mortgage broker. He’s sent all the paperwork off to the lender and he’ll chase them if he’s not heard anything by the end of the week. Nice, efficient, pleasant, and I trust him. He’s earning less commission than he would have if we’d gone with the original plans, but still perfectly pro-active and helpful. He wasn’t kidding when he said he was after our remortgage business in a couple of years’ time.

The second conversation? The estate agent, phoning to tell me that our vendors have found somewhere to live. First thought – wow, that was fast. They only started looking last week! There was more though. The vendors have arranged their mortgage through the estate agent. Would I care to do so? No. Not even if they can guarantee to beat the rate I’ve been quoted elsewhere? No. Not even if they can give me a fixed rate of 3.2 %? Not a chance, matey. I don’t believe for a second I can get that rate. Even if I hadn’t already paid for the valuation survey, I’d be going elsewhere for my mortgage. Somewhere where they’re up front about how much they earn from my business.

All this, too, after they’d already spoken to my mortgage broker! So far all I’ve got from the buying process is a list of who not to sell through when we come to sell, however many years down the line it is. I think I’ve met at best one even remotely trustworthy bloke so far, and that was because he was a sole trader in a sea of national franchises.

The Old Apartment

Broke into the old apartment
Forty-two steps from the street
Crooked landing, crooked landlord.
Narrow laneway filled with crooks
This is where we used to live.

Seconds out, round two.  Four more houses down, some good, some not so good. So without further ado:

Day 2, Appointment 1.

A victorian semi. Looks good from the outside, though the front garden’s a bit overgrown. The estate agent’s a local independent and he turns up on time. Inside, the hallway immediately reminds me again of old houses full of students, though in this case besides the chipboard wallpaper, there’s little actually in common. The current owner is apparently a widow – an impression I’d already got from the pictures in the particulars. The front room is lovely, as is the dining room. Kitchen is a little messy but in decent nick. Downstairs bathroom needs refurbishing but not urgently, there’s no window that opens so there’s a little damp where water has splashed from the sink. Nothing too bad. Upstairs, the two smaller bedrooms are fine. One is only single glazed but the frame looks to be in a decent shape. The shower room’s been more recently updated, and again looks fine.

The problems? The master bedroom, where the current owner’s stripped off the old wallpaper and not got around to replacing it (helpfully showing a patch of water-damaged plaster, which I’m told was due to a burst pipe which is fixed). The other issue is location – it’s on a Red Route, meaning parking is in a side street a couple of minutes’ walk away.

Appointment 2

Unexpected super bonus appointment! The agent from appointment 1 has another house he thinks I’d like. It’s 2 bedrooms, terraced, but pristine. I meet him after lunch, and he’s not kidding, it’s very nice inside and had been well looked after. It’s a bit further from the station but who cares? The only real issue is the size – 2 bedrooms is a bit on the small side, but it’s otherwise excellent. Needs more thought. But after the unexpected super bonus appointment, we have:

Unwanted Interlude

I met the next estate agent in their offices in Sutton. They were going to show me two houses – they very nearly didn’t show me any, and it was only because neither of them were available with other agents that I didn’t walk out there and then. Apparently they really, really, want me to ditch my current mortgage broker and go with their in-house one, simply because he’d advised us to hold back on getting an AiP until absolutely necessary. Fat chance. I spend twenty minutes getting the hard sell on why the mortgage I’m considering is the wrong one (it’s quite obvious they get higher commission on certain mortgages) listening disinterestedly to the absolute wanker behind the desk who doesn’t seem to want me to get a word in edgeways, much less listen to what I have to say. Eventually he loses interest (half an hour later!) and releases me to his colleague who’s going to show me the houses. He looks barely out of school, and doesn’t exactly scream competence or experience to me. However, he takes me to:

Appointment 3

A repossessed house. It’s a lot bigger than anything we’ve seen so far – 3 bedrooms, loft conversion, “sun room” at the back, and much bigger than I was expecting. And there’s damp. Lots and lots and lots of damp. Rough reckoning tells me it’d be about £3k to fix the damp alone. The roof on the sun room needs replacing too, as does the bathroom interior in its entirety. It’s a definite “nope”, even more than the place we saw last Saturday.

Appointment 4

Another (smaller) victorian semi. Bloody well looked after, period features, nothing to do. It’s a really nice house but there’s not much to differentiate it from every other nice house I’ve seen. Might well go back for a second viewing, was that kind of place. The Astroturfed back garden was a bit strange, though, makes me wonder why it wasn’t real grass.

So – six down, three more tomorrow. If I had a favourite, it’d be the first one I saw today, I think. Not perfect but then anything that’s too perfect makes me suspicious.

Rule the world (with Love)

It didn’t happen to us overnight.
Just ’cause it happened doesn’t mean it’s right –
To our embarrassment we lost the fight
To rule the world with love.

As some may be aware, we’ve finally managed to scrape together enough money to finally get a mortgage and buy somewhere of our own. No mean feat in London – the flat just below ours went recently for a cool £335k. A third of a million pounds! for a flat that has a single double bedroom, a tiny box for a second bedroom and a kitchen barely big enough to swing a cat in!

No, we’re looking somewhere a little less pricy. Somewhere we can get a 3-bedroom house given the kind of deposit we’ve got saved up. So far we’ve had appointments to view three houses, on a rainy Saturday.

Appointment 1:

About an hour before

*ring ring* “Hello there, it’s the estate agent for <address> here. I’m dreadfully sorry but the vendor’s having to cancel your viewing; her children are sick”.

Fair enough, a bit more notice might have been fine, but  understandable. Skip ahead to:

Appointment 2:

Setting off in the car with an hour to get there (should be a 30-minute drive) we eventually find the place and are 5 minutes late. From the outside, the house looks OK. I ring the bell. After no reply for several minutes, I knock instead. The vendor answers, and immediately I’m taken aback. He’s still wearing his threadbare dressing gown, in the mid-afternoon, and even in that he looks scruffy. I’m here to look at the house, I remind myself. Unfortunately the house isn’t any more impressive than its current owner. It’s a victorian semi-detached, and while on the outside looks to be in good nick, the inside is a different story. The place doesn’t seem to have been decorated in years, and even when it had been, it’s paint that’s been thrown over the old wallpaper. At the joins with the ceiling, the paper’s coming away, probably caused by damp. The extension at the back, containing a kitchen and a bathroom, shows signs of a leaking roof, and the way it’s been built means the dining room gets no light.

Upstairs is pretty much the same. More signs of peeling wallpaper, I can’t even get in the third bedroom to take a decent look at it, there’s so much stuff been shoved in there, but from what I can see there’s little to convince me the place is worth the cash. It reminds me of the sorts of houses we used to rent back when we were students and couldn’t afford any better. The vendor tells me he’s had it on the market for “a couple of months”. Google disagrees, and I now understand why. Maybe if he dropped the price by 20% he might, just might, stand a chance.  A few notes in the notebook, to the effect of “no chance” (a shame because on paper it looked excellent) and we make our merry way to:

Appointment 3:

Is a couple of miles from appointment 2, so we end up arriving 30 minutes early. Not a problem, though, the vendor is out and we’re meeting the estate agent. We park up and given we’re so early, take a walk around the neighbourhood. It seems OK, mixture of older terraces and a few newer builds, people looking after their gardens. And then the heavens open, and so, soaked to the bone, we sit in the car, shivering, waiting for the estate agent to turn up. In some bizarre act of karma, he’s late this time – though when he turns up, having phoned ahead, he apologises and shows us the house.

It’s the same asking price as the last one, but what a huge difference. Well looked-after, no obvious signs of anything problematic. It’s a house we can imagine ourselves living in, so I’ll be asking for further details from his office on Monday (though I didn’t say so at the time). The only two problems – it’s near a busy road (though even at the end of the garden the noise wasn’t too bad) and the train will take about 45 minutes to get to central London. I can live with those.

Come Friday, I’m going to see some more. And I’m sure I’ll have more tales of the weird to share…

21st March 2010Permalink 2 Comments