My life with the snagger

A number of readers have been in contact concerned about my living arrangements. Their interest is touching and welcome. True, all my correspondents have stopped short of handing over their house to me but in this world of self-interest it is still refreshing to discover that there are still many who care for the welfare of their fellow man. As regular readers are well aware I have been scouring the London property market for several months in the forlorn hope of finding somewhere to buy. So far I have failed miserably and therefore describe myself as being of no fixed abode. Some readers assume I am fraternising with vagrants and petty criminals which has prompted them to inquire as to my well-being.

They can be reassured. It is true there was a time when I lived on the Circle Line which, at pounds 1.10, represents one of the best all-day hotels in London. It sometimes became a bit painful during the summer around Tower Hill when I would be invaded by hordes of backpacking Swedish tourists but in general it was a very pleasant place to rest your head. I abandoned the Circle Line when the disguise I used to stay on the train overnight in the sidings was rumbled. My tactic was to dress myself up as a used copy of Girl About Town. But I was disturbed one morning by a cleaner leafing through my classifieds in search of a "single 40-something male ready for fun and friendship". The cleaner thought she had struck pay dirt but I was less than gruntled.

I moved from the Circle Line to a caravan on the M25. There is a quite thriving mobile community around London's orbital freeway which is home to thousands of construction workers who are constantly repairing, expanding or generally digging up this much misunderstood thoroughfare. Life in the caravan was sweet until I was outed by a gang of pipe layers. In the dead of night they moved my caravan into the "not that slow after all" lane thereby causing havoc. I persuaded the police that the caravan had become detached from my friend's Jeep Grand Cherokee on the way to a motoring holiday in France and they let me go with a stern warning.

Since then I have been using more conventional accommodation. Passing myself off as a TV market researcher I have wheedled my way into an executive home in Richmond. I have persuaded the owner that it is my job to note the TV programmes she watches and send the details to a database which then concludes that 432 million people watched racing from Newton Abbott. I wander around the house with a clipboard adopting a quizzical look.

All this is by way of what we call in the film industry "an establishing shot". The key information here is that my current abode is an executive home. It is no ordinary executive home but one built by no less an authority than Berkeley Homes. This housebuilder of repute is causing enormous grief for my benefactor who regards her home as a permanent memorial to "things that can go wrong in a new house".

Berkeley Homes accept that there can be teething problems and a while back they sent round a team of snaggers to correct all those annoying little problems like the front door not working and the fence being the wrong way round. The snagger in chief, a very pleasant man, was not particularly complimentary about his employers. Clearly there were too many snags and not enough snaggers to deal with them. Indeed many of the snags in my abode were simply ignored.

Now I discover that there is a fundamental problem with damp which has made my landlady exceedingly grumpy. A call to the major snagging department at Berkeley Homes is pending. I suspect I am about to be caught in the crossfire.

Stand ready for updates.

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