It’s 9.30am and although I should already be at Mrs. Prendergast’s house, I am sat in my car down the road trying to psych myself up to going in. It should be simple, you arrive, you are the professional, you value, you add value and you leave. And yet, it rarely goes that way.
As I trudge up the driveway to the door, a sense of foreboding consumes me as I realise that this must be the sixth time I have valued this house in the past three years. In fact, I think I have been here once every six months.
The old dear seemed ancient the first time I met her, I could see the bony hand of Death on her shoulder even then… And yet here we are three years later.
Usually being invited back again is a valuer’s dream. If they invite you back, there’s a good chance that liked what you had to say the first time round and an even greater chance that you can land the business this time round. After 6 visits, you can be assured that you have either been adopted by them or in the very least that you have built up some sort of familiarity or rapport.
Alas, not with Mrs. Prendergast. The most depressing thing is that every time is just like the first with Mrs. Prendergast, she has no idea who I am when she opens the door.
The door squeaks open as if I’m the first visitor to her mausoleum since they mummified her all those centuries ago.
“Hello Mrs. Prendergast, I’m Roger from Bootfords” I say, as enthusiastically as I can, thrusting my hand into her bony, clammy equivalent.
“Oh I suppose you better come in then and sit down. And don’t touch anything!” She wasn’t about to win any TripAdvisor rave reviews for hospitality.
She sits down opposite me. I marvel at the fact that there she is, still alive. The sitting room is exactly as it was on the previous 6 occasions, save for the fact that the layer of dust was that bit thicker. They say that household dust is mostly made up of human skin cells, in which case it would make sense that more of Mrs Prendergast seems to be covering every surface in this room than is sat upright in the chair before me.
“So Mrs. Prendergast. How have you been? My records say it’s about 6 months since I last provided you with valuation advice.” This was the great lead up to the depressing bit. Total amnesia.
“I’ve never met you before young man. In fact, it’s taken me 6 months just to get over the last valuation I got from that Roger from Bootfords. Disgusting little man he was. A sex pervert!” She gasped.
For a brief moment I was elated as she clearly remembered being visited by a Roger from Bootfords, but the elation was swiftly replaced with despair (and a fair amount of panic) as she:- a) had remembered me as a rapist and b) had totally forgotten me since I introduced myself at the door a mere 90 seconds ago.
This was going to be a long, long day.
I decided to fill the awkward silence with words, as I normally do. Stupid, unthinking words.
“Oh Roger? I heard he was quite a nice chap? I’ve er.. never heard anything like that about him” in the panic, I had decided to play along with forgetting who I was for a moment.
“He marched in here and spent the entire valuation staring at my breasts!” she shrieked back at me.
Until then, I was entirely unaware of Mrs. Prendergast’s breasts. In fact they were the last thing I would even think of looking for on her skeleton like body, but now they were the only thing that I could think of looking at. It was like she’d turned on two very saggy booby magnets.
I looked straight down at my pad and pretended to diligently take note of what she had just said as if it was an important piece of information about a flying freehold, but instead I had merely written the word boobies and underlined it.
I was pretty sure that I wanted to die, I just never envisioned the end being quite as shit as this.
“I’m so sorry to hear that, Mrs. Prendergast.” It was the only thing I could think of. I was truly sorry though. If there’s one thing more depressing than not being remembered, it was being entirely misremembered as some sort of perverted granny shagger, although in her case I was fairly certain that necrophilia might be a more appropriate term.
“Why are you apologising? Are you related to him?” her beady eyes were bulging from their sockets as she spat her words out at me.
“Roger? No! Good God no! He sounds like an..er.. depraved person.” I can’t believe I was actually participating in Roger-bashing myself.
“Yes that’s what he is a depraved little man! Now, enough about that horrible pervert – would you like to look around the house?”
Say no. Say no and run away. In that order.
“Yes!” Shit. My mouth was on panic driven auto-pilot and it was too late.
“Where would you like to start? Shall I take you upstairs?” She was staring at me, waiting for an answer, but every fibre in my body told me that there was no correct answer to this question.
I nodded, thinking this was the only appropriate reply, as we waited for what seemed like an absolute age. Me following her, one painful step at a time, whilst her stairlift whirred her up the stairs at a rate that would make a tortoise seem like Usain Bolt.
It’s 9.37am on a Monday and I feel like I’ve already worked a week.