Confessions of an estate agent

Charles Webb of the Camden Bus Estate Agents

Thursday 23 January 2014 02:18
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My estate agency is housed in a double-decker bus. I set it up 18 years ago with my business partner, Gary. It was a joke at the time: London Transport was selling buses for £2,000 each and we thought we'd buy one. It's just got such a lot of character: nice big wheel arch at the front, those frog-eyed lights...

"We do get the occasional anoraks, the bus enthusiasts who come down and peek under the bonnet. But we are also in the right location to attract famous people – just yards away from Primrose Hill in Camden – so we are a magnet for actors and musicians too.

"The problem is that I don't recognise any of them. I'm more interested in brickwork and local history, so these things pass me by. Luckily Gary remembers names and faces, so he normally shows the celebrities around. I'm more on the administrative side, like a very well paid secretary.

"We had a famous Irish comedian come in the other day – Dara O'Briain. I was putting his information down on the form and asked if he was sure about the spelling of his name. How can you spell your own name wrong? He was very good about it, though. Later, I did a quick search on Google and it turned out he was one of the funniest guys around at the moment.

"It reminded me of the time when Graham Coxon from Blur came in, years ago, with a young girl. They both looked too young to buy flats. I'd never heard of Blur at the time. His girlfriend said, "Graham's a musician – he plays for Blur," and I said, "I'm sorry, but it doesn't mean anything to me. I'm not really into pop music". Then I saw them on TV. Since then I've bought quite a few of their CDs.

"Another time we had a client called Michael Sellers. He was a carpenter, a very down-to-earth bloke, but he also had a rather Goon-type sense of humour. I always used to make a crack about him being like Peter Sellers. It was only later that Gary pointed out to me that he was indeed Peter Sellers' son.

"Gary is usually very helpful in filling me in if someone is famous. He pointed out to me one of the Spice Girls going to the pet shop the other day. And we see Alan Bennett ride past on his bike most days.

"And then there was the time I was trying to find a house for someone called Chris Kelly. I'd been showing him houses over a period of weeks and each time he'd say, "Well, Charles, is there anyone famous you've seen this week?"

"One day I took him and his wife around to a house in Kentish Town. The owner of the house said, "Haven't I seen you on TV?" It turned out he was the presenter of the programme Food and Drink – which I actually used to watch – but I'd never made the connection. They always seem to look different in the flesh."

Camden Bus Estate Agents, 27a Parkway, London; 020-7485 7485

Interview by Anita Pati

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