It's time to zeenk or zwim

Forgive me if this missive is a little confused, but it comes to you from the heart of the Normandy property market and carries with it the impediments associated with that region.

Most of these impediments come in either bottles or glasses and are proffered by my friendly French estate agent, Monsieur Grand Ville. He has his office in that most unique of locations where the sun has permanently slipped just below the yard arm. Every morning we indulge in a ritual involving a bundle of particulars, a bottle of Calvados, an old map of the area and the constitution of an ox. I dare not question M Grand Ville's commitment to the produce of the region lest he is offended and relegates me to the rubbled ruin tour.

The rubbled ruin tour involves visiting collections of bricks and stones which masquerade as properties of character. It is offered only to those who are not prepared to savour the delights of a large Calvados at 9.30 in the morning.

Here I have perhaps been a little too enthusiastic in my appreciation of the fruits of the land. It has almost reached the point where M Grand Ville believes I have no interest in property and merely want to sit around getting sloshed on cheap brandy.

"Today we zeenk," he proudly announced one day last week, decanting a half-litre of the wretched stuff into a coffee mug. I did not particularly want to sink. I wanted to find a deux up, deux down cottage.

"No, we don' zeenk ze dreenk, we zeenk about where you really wanna leef," he explained. Relieved, I grabbed another gallon of four-star and pretended to find inspiration in the brown liquid.

"I would like to live near a beach," I said. M Grand Ville tapped his nose and grinned conspiratorially. "I always zay eet eez butter to leef near one than wiz one. Eh?"

"May we?" I asked a little embarrassed and pointing to the door.

"Ah so, yew agree wiz me," he replied.

"I don't think so."

"But you zey mais oui," M Grand Ville protested.

"Not mais oui, may we."

This was too much for the diminutive Frenchman, who reached in desperation for another tincture.

"Perhaps we should go, " I suggested.

"One mer fer ze rerd," he slurred.

"One more and we will not be able to see the road," I admonished.

"You Eengleesh you are ow you zay so... so..."

"English," I helped.


Now that we had an accord we positively bounded outside and leapt into the 2CV.

"Let me pray," M Grand Ville said.

I know it is a Catholic country, but I had not realised that my guide was either quite so sozzled or quite so trusting in the power of the Almighty.

I decided it would be polite to join him in this moment of sanctity.

"What eez eet you er doing?" M Grand Ville asked.

"You said you were going to pray."

"I am. I wernt to pray into yer feenances. Ow murch you haf de spernd on zee owse," he explained.

"Oh, you mean pry," I said.

"Zat is wert I zed," came the rather tetchy response.

"What is about you people? Is there some international estate agency college you all go to learn the seven key questions to annoy a prospective buyer? `How much have you got to spend?' in 47 different languages? You sound just like the estate agents back home," I wailed.

"Zey zound like me?" M Grand Ville asked somewhat impressed. "I cerm to leef wiz you, eh?" There was only one thing for it. I reached for the bottle of Calvados.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Cover Supervisors Urgently Required In Knowsley **

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Java developer - (Intershop Enfinity)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Java Developer...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album