Donald MacInnes: The fact that there were no headstones in the garden was genuinely pleasing


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The Independent Online

In my previous dispatch from the traumatic home-hunting frontline, where regiments of estate agents fire broadsides of scorn at our hilarious budget-to-square-footage aspirations, I detailed how one such know-it-all had been forced to tell us – just as we were about to enter – why the house was unsellable, due to the all-pervasive stench of chemicals from the dry cleaner down below. Needless to say, we weren't inordinately tempted.

Our next viewing saw us greeted at the front door by the vendor, a man who seemed to be persisting with those plastic Croc shoes, despite the evident disdain from the world at large. He combined said nasty sandals with a pair of jogging bottoms which, I would be prepared to wager my final tenner, had participated in little to no jogging. The only thing jogged was whichever container of food he was eating from when it spilled into his crotch, leaving a rather upsetting stain.

Despite his grimy appearance, however, he had the front to ask us to remove our shoes as we inspected his grotty domain. Now, this is a bit of a pet hate of mine. If I go round to someone's house and they ask me to take my shoes off, I am already having a bad time. Have you ever tried to have a serious conversation with a group of people when you are all standing in the middle of someone's front room, all dolled-up, apart (of course) from your bare feet? Or even worse… in your socks? Utterly ghastly. And so unfair. Is it my fault they decided to buy a deep-shag carpet in the kind of brilliant white you normally associate with baby seals? Why should I have to compromise my sharp dressing to keep their carpet free from the odd spot?

Anyway, back to the man with the stained jogging bottoms. His house had… eh, one particular drawback. It wasn't the fact that, for some reason, someone had left an old lady in the front room, but the fact that the poor old dear was sitting staring out of the window at an immense graveyard which began just over their garden wall. I frowned at the sea of crosses and sadness, mere yards away from the back door. The vendor clearly noticed my concern, chipping in helpfully with: "It's only a military cemetery. They haven't buried anyone there since 1945."

Riiight. We made our excuses, put on our shoes and fled.

The next house we saw was another washout. Cleverly, the estate agent opted to forget that the empty property's power had been switched off so, as it was 6pm, my wife and I had to use the ambient light from our phones as rudimentary torches to creep around. On the up-side, as the place was an inky-black world of nothingness, we were spared the horrific sight of the dirt we must have tracked onto the carpet. And the absence of headstones in the back garden was genuinely pleasing, I have to confess.

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