I need to say thank you to someone. To a person I have never met, will never meet and with whom I have spoken with only twice.
I just sold my house. The completion day was yesterday. Friday the 29th May. I have never lived anywhere for more than three or four years. We moved round a lot when I was young and it’s something that has stayed with me. I like moving house. I enjoy it. The first morning in a new house is a feeling I adore.
However, this one was different. Way different.
I bought an old house in April last year and within a few months realised the project was too big for me. I put it back on the market and sold it. House selling, moving home and all that stuff can be really stressful but I’d done it loads so the process didn’t daunt me. The agents were there to do their bit, the solicitors handled all the legal stuff and you just sit back and let it happen. On this occasion though, the estate agents were bloody awful and the solicitor was an incompetent fool. It’s funny but those two people control the whole process. They dictate everything that happens. Normally one of them is a bit twatish but the other steps up and shares the burden. I’ve had shit agents before but with good solicitors and the other way round but never both at the same time and my god, oh my god, oh my fucking shitty shit pants fuckity fucknuts dear me it was really rather awful.
Nine months it took, which isn’t that long in these days of mortgage lenders acting like totalitarian scrooges and surveyors being the twats they are. Surveyors are awful too. I don’t mean all surveyors but the ones that go round checking houses for lenders. If you are a surveyor and are offended by this then sod off and stop being so awful. I mean really? The poor chap buying my house had a shit ton of cash and only needed about £25000 top up mortgage but they still insisted on every type of report imaginable. Damp reports. Wall tie report. Rat report. Timber report. Roof report. Electrical report. Plumbing report. Door report. Aliens report. Subsidence. Avalanche. Earthquake. Volcano. Floods. Biblical events. Has anyone in a red hat ever walked past the house? Was there ever, in the history of mankind, a person who knitted socks within the confines of the boundary? Did anyone drive past a month ago in a black car and if so, what did he have for lunch?
There is risk awareness and of course, everyone wants to cover their own arse in case something goes wrong but you guys take it to a whole new level, the lenders get very nervous of people eating apple pies, Mr Haywood. Has anyone here ever eaten an apple pie?
This is my message to surveying people who go round surveying houses for totalitarian scrooge money lender mortgage people: Have some courage in your abilities based on the training and experience of your profession and grow a pair of bollocks.
Eventually we got past the survey and sorted out the alien report with a visit from NASA who said there was only a very minimal chance of aliens landing on the roof and no they couldn’t possibly comment if the roof was load bearing and would support the weight of an alien spacecraft.
Anywho, so yeah the agents were a bit shit but then they only really act as the liaison between all the people involved. The solicitor though is different. They do legal stuff with legal documents in a legal way that is legally binding. They have qualifications and earn loads of money and drive BMW’s and Mercedes which they park outside their air-conditioned gyms when they go to their spin-fit class on Wednesday evenings. Solicitors are recognised in the same way that doctors and engineers are. It’s not a job but a profession.
The solicitor was shit too. Really bad. So bad. So very bad that if aliens did land on the house contrary to the NASA report and one of them came out carrying a raygun and going snargleblangwhumpfiggle then he or she could have done a better job. Shit, the alien dude back in the alien sweatshop factory making rayguns could have done a better job.
He got everything wrong. Everything, and after nine months of sheer hell I was starting to bite. I was getting snarly and angry. I was an angry bear being poked with a stick.
Eruption was imminent and in frustration I sent the solicitor an email. I’m a writer and that email was sarcastically scathing. I was starting to fume with steam coming from my ears but I kept it humorous and witty. Actually, the email is funny and I wish I could put it on here, but I won’t. The message though was clear. I was reaching breaking point and one more thing could tip me over the edge and by fuck it happened yesterday. I lost it. Big style. I was fuming so much even the alien with the raygun would have backed off and waited for a bit round the corner before trying for world domination.
The context was this:
The completion was due which meant, through a series of bank transfers, the money for the price of the house gets to my solicitors. They confirm they have it and everyone laughs gaily and he gets the keys. The solicitor then take their chunk of money and pay everyone else before giving me what is left. The buyer had also agreed to pay me £150 for a fridge freezer I was leaving for him. The deal was that, on completion, he gives the £150 to the agents who give him the keys. I get the £150 for the fridge freezer and the money from the solicitor. He gets a house and a fridge freezer and everyone laughs gaily.
I got a message saying the completion was done. Cue conversation number one with the person to whom I owe a big thank you. I called the solicitors and asked what happens next? I spoke with a woman called Comfort. She was really funny and explained I would get the money by the end of the day. She was cool and I loved her name.
I waited and late in the afternoon got an email from the agents saying they had given the keys to the buyer and he had told them he had given the £150 to his solicitor. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t the deal but no worries, as long as it was paid then all is good. I checked my bank to see if the money had gone in plus the £150 but no money had been paid in. It was past 4pm so I called the solicitor and spoke to a woman who said the banking system had failed and I wouldn’t get the money until Monday and no, the £150 hadn’t been paid.
That was it. That was my breaking point. It was her tone, the manner in which she said it, the dismissive inflection that this wasn’t important to her, she was busy, it was Friday. I’d had nine months of this and in my head, there was now someone in my house using my fridge freezer and I didn’t have a penny to show for it. She was rude, abrupt and clearly had better things to do. I said no and I kept on saying no. My tone got firmer to the point I was pretty much growling down the phone that was starting to buckle in my hand. This was not happening. No. Not happening. She declined to listen and maintained that dismissive tone so I lost it. I shouted a lot. I really shouted very loudly in a very angry voice. She had no idea of the shit I had experienced at the hands of her colleague and the agents. I’d dropped thousands from the price to get the deal through and done everything I could to reach this point and you, you speak to me like this? No. Just. No. She started to listen and her tone changed but it was too late. I was in full temper. I don’t lose my temper much these days. I used to when I was a lot younger but learned that losing your temper is a loss of control which is never a good thing but now, on this day, fuck the lot of you for the shit you’ve done and speaking to me like this. I was raging. I was going to be paid and that was it. He had the house. I got the money, no actually….fuck the money for the house, where’s the £150? In the irrational rage coursing through my brain that was the thing I seized on. Where was the money for the fridge? Where was the £150? She said they only had the money for the house and not the £150. Bang. I was done. It was too much. My brain was frazzled and, although it shames me now, I was a shouty mess of a man yelling about a fridge and that I wanted my £150. I think she panicked and said she would find out about the £150 and call me back.
I paced and fretted. In my head I could only think about the £150. I don’t know why. The mind is weird in times of crisis. I’ve been to serious big nasty incidents with people who have suffered the most horrendous things and watched as they worried if they fed the cat? Go figure.
The phone rang. I recognised the number. It was the solicitors office. I answered growling, hissing, fuming, angry. It was Comfort. Her tone was soft but full of humour and in that way she spoke, through the miles of phone line, she took the rage and anger and brought it down. Easily, gently, softly. She had the slightest of accents and later told me she was originally from Nigeria. She made conversation of a kind that served to give perspective. It was the tone and the way she used that tone that did it. Laughing softly, listening, reassuring and understanding. It sounds a bit crap now, that I lost it over £150 but it wasn’t just the £150. It was all of the shit from before, the cumulative total of every single mistake and error the solicitor had made and the arrogance of the agents stretched over nine very long months. But it was cool, everything was cool. Comfort would sort it out. She would fix it on Monday. It was okay. Within a while I was talking normally. A few minutes later I was laughing.
Perhaps, because of the job I do, I know how much it means when someone relates in that way. When someone doesn’t hide from the conflict being shown but walks into it with a confidence of knowing they can help. The resonance and believability projected. The honesty told and all with a humour that deflects the anger instead of absorbing it and making the mistake of taking it personally.
For the rest of yesterday I was chilled, relaxed and worked on my next book with a fresh mind.
It’s important to give thanks to someone who has helped you or done a thing that meant something. So, Comfort, thank you. I should not have lost my temper, losing control is never a good thing but sometimes it happens and it’s those around you at that time that can make such a difference. Also, I am a writer and the name Comfort is just bloody awesome! I couldn’t not write something.
I don’t know what will happen on Monday but I do know that Comfort is taking care of it, it’s cool, it’s all good, don’t worry. I won’t worry. Not now.