An ode to the abode

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The Independent Online
My Knowledge of Swedish has never progressed much beyond "Foorst urv errll yer certch der churken", which I picked up from the chef in the Muppet Show. There is, then, a chance that my translation leaves much to be desired. However, an article I read recently in a Stockholm newspaper clearly suggested that a local estate agency had taken to using poetry to promote its houses.

The article could have been analysing the latest employment statistics but I like the idea of a poetic licence to make a killing.

Although property in Sweden seems to be plentiful (and indeed does grow on trees judging by the number of timber constructions on offer), it is also quite expensive. So a novel approach to marketing would have its attractions. The question in my mind, then, was whether the idea would ever catch on here. I know from bitter experience how creative the estate agency professionals are; could they use their talent not to craft a grand deception but to endow the nation with something of lasting natural beauty?

At great personal risk, therefore, I decided to indulge in a little market research last week with an unusual visit to a local agent. It was unusual in two respects. First he actually had a property to sell, second he was faced with a curious question:

"How would you describe this house to me in poetic terms?"

"Do what?" came the less than elegant response.

I explained in more detail what I had in mind. He looked at me and thought:

1) Should I chin him now

2) Should I chin him when there are no witnesses?

3) Should I call the police?

4) Should I go along with this ridiculous charade?

As I was bigger than him and he had clearly forgotten the crucial digit after 99, he settled for option 4:

There was an old house in East Sheen

Whose owner was greedy and mean

He refused to accept

That his home was a wreck

And could only be sold sight unseen

This was deeply impressive and also, judging from a squint at the particulars, very accurate. So I asked if he could do a sonnet.

"I used to work with a bloke called Sonnet," he replied. "Sonnet the Headcase we called him - after the computer game."

"Why so?" I inquired.

"He used to do 14 lines before lunchtime if you know what I mean," he said, pressing a finger against the side of his nose.

I caught his drift and feared we might be slipping towards his hallucinogenic period. I made my excuses and left.

I remain, therefore, to be convinced that Britain is ready for poetry as a marketing tool. But one day ...

The time will come oh whispering classes

When words and bricks will work

Together

When prose and pros will join in

Harmony

When will this drivel ever

Stop?

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