Sunday, 17 May 2009

Kerb Appeal

My latest project (I like to have an ongoing project to ensure my life is filled with stress and various bizarre incidents) is to sell my house. And then buy a new one.

This should be interesting.

It has just gone on the market and that means that total strangers are being invited into my home, my first proper home where I got married and had my babies (we shall leave the not so pleasant bits out I think - just in case any of you are potential buyers and have been put off by the man-eating dog, drug factory or neighbour wrapped in chains who burst through the living room window), and basically they get to slag it off.

It feels so personal that it's a bit like inviting people in to critique your husband.

'Hmm we liked his outside appearance but on closer inspection there are signs of damp and things downstairs are a little smaller than we were hoping' (I hasten to add that is just an example - there is nothing damp or disappointing about my long suffering husband).

First there was Agatha who liked the house but not the view. Seriously - what was she expecting? The rolling Serengeti? The sun going down over the Grand Canyon? I found it hard not to take Agatha's comments to heart.

Then there was someone who wanted exactly the same thing but BIGGER for exactly the same price. That old chestnut.

And then?

Well then there was a lady who was very interested but I only had an hour's notice before her arrival.

Now as any of you who have sold houses with small children in-situ will know - this is a freakin' nightmare.

As I told the Estate Agent 'yes of course she can come round, I would LOVE to see her' I surveyed the chaos and shuddered. There had (according to my eldest son) been a tornado which 'left 68 people deaded' in the living room. I'm not sure about the deaded bit but it had left the cushions off my sofa, 3,000 Lego bricks, toy cars, model trains and soft toys spread around the lower floor of the house and filthy hand prints on all the windows. Then of course there is the ever present (even 5 minutes after you've hoovered) carpet of toast crumbs, rice cake crumbs, biscuit crumbs and bits of sweetcorn. And the laundry hung all round the place. And the washing piled up. And the dirty pots. And the mucky bathroom. And the unmade beds. And... well you get the picture.

Tidying it up (well shoving stuff in cupboards and under beds) was doable but not with the children there tipping everything out as fast I put it away. So I needed to get rid of them and that only left me with one (legal) option. The garden. So out they went, with a pile of toys and I got busy.

Selling houses these days isn't what it once was. In the days of a million property shows everyone is 'property savvy' and knows about things like 'dressing your home', 'decluttering' and, the vitally important, 'kerb appeal'.

The lady was due at 5.30pm and I hoped that she would sashay round the (now) immaculate house and then smile warmly at the two cherubic boys playing nicely on the freshly mown lawn. Kerb appeal? Oh yeah baby. I wasn't going to just sell her my house, I was going to sell her my entire lifestyle. She wouldn't just be buying a home - she would be buying a way of life. She would WANT IT ALL. A life of serene motherhood, tinkling laughter, freshly baked scones and dogs called Timmy (Ok scrap the last bit but I have a guinea pig called Rex - does that count?).

But it didn't quite happen like that.

At approximately 5.28pm an outraged howl emanated from the garden. It appeared that my children had decided to water the plants with the hose. And then they'd decided to water eachother. The baby in particular was soaked from head to toe in freezing water and it was a freezing cold evening so he was not exactly happy.

For a few moments I contemplated just leaving him out there but I thought the sight of a screaming, seemingly neglected, slightly blue child might give the potential buyer bad vibes so I fetched them in, forbade them to leave the conservatory, stripped them down and then I had to stop them crying. Two children howling in tandem is not music to anyone's ears. But how to stop them crying? This would need something seriously impressive but I had no 'treats' in the house. The only thing that came to mind was a box of expensive Belgian chocolates someone had given me as a gift and I'd been saving for the last 6 months. I wasn't saving them for the bloody kids to eat but hey ho - this was an emergency so out they came and the children's jaws dropped open in disbelief as a praline noisette was stuffed into each hand with the assurance that they could have 'more!' if they JUST STOPPED BLOODY CRYING. This of course, sent them bonkers and they started squealing with joy and wrestling boisterously.

At that moment, she arrived.

I'm not sure what she made of the sight of two semi-naked wet children bouncing off the walls whilst munching a £14 box of chocolates but she hasn't been back.

I think rather than selling her a lifestyle I just providing a brutal reminder of the fact that parenthood 'ain't like the soap powder adverts'.

Next time I might put them in the cupboard under the stairs.

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