A year that made me weep openly on the streets of Walthamstow

Life on Marsden

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The Independent Online

When you devoured this column on 23 October, you will have experienced throbbing waves of sympathy as I recounted my failure to complete the theoretically simple process of selling my flat and buying another one. Today the horror continues apace, like a nightmare you can't wake up from where you're strapped to a Greek ornamental column wearing nothing but a novelty tie and Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles is advancing towards you with a hacksaw and a pitbull named Tetchy.

This week is the first anniversary of the beginning of the process, a year that's seen estate agents cause me to scream incomprehensibly on the A635 outside Holmfirth, weep openly on the streets of Walthamstow and force me to utter the phrase "Don't swear at me, Stuart, I'm putting the phone down now" when Stuart got cross. They say, don't they, that moving house is more stressful than having your head bisected – but I'm nowhere near moving and the near-constant angst has already caused me to put on 5kg. If removal men ever deign to enter my flat my nervous system will probably issue a statement of unconditional surrender and I'll experience catastrophic erectile dysfunction. But three things have baffled me throughout this whole episode. One: solicitors send faxes. Faxes!

The second: a lack of urgency on the part of everyone involved. Even if you kidnapped your vendor and held a knife to his throat, everything would still roll along at a glacial pace while he mumbled something vaguely reassuring about trying to obtain a building regulations approval certificate.

The third is the mystifying absence of moral obligation towards the poor saps down the chain. A couple have been waiting to move into my flat since May, and their plight sends spasms of guilt coursing through my body every day. But I reckon the people I'm trying to buy from are snorting cocaine in a penthouse suite somewhere in Mayfair while observing me on CCTV, cackling as they see me resubmit an expired mortgage application, then phoning their solicitor and saying: "Let's make him wait another month – we like the way he keeps mumbling 'What's the point?' to no one in particular." So, if my vendors are reading this, please stop snorting cocaine and sell me your property. (Hopefully this bold strategy will work.)