We were greeted by our letting agent, who was wearing her best, ‘don’t ask, I’m handling it’ smile, and we soon understood why.
Mrs Tenant clearly wears the trousers. As her husband struggled to single-handedly unpack the hired van full of sofas, beds and the rest of their worldly goods; she held court in the front garden, explaining to us all in great detail exactly what is wrong with our house.
The garden is in an appalling state, the dishwasher isn’t German, she needs not one but two sheds, and there’s a shelf missing in one of the kitchen cupboards.
She doesn’t like the woodwork, or the floors, and she doesn’t understand the heating controls. And did she mention that the oven is disgustingly dirty? In her apartment in the city, her tenants could eat their meals off her floors apparently.
Don’t even tempt me…
Bear in mind we hadn’t actually introduced ourselves yet. I considered pretending we were dropping off a parcel and had no idea who the owners were, but sadly, my cunning plan was thwarted by the children who were already heading off to the big brother’s tree house with more than a little familiarity in their surroundings.
Twinsdaddy drew a deep breath and prepared to go into battle with Mrs Bossy Knickers. Mr Tenant busied himself with a headboard and I headed off into the garden. Some time alone in a wide open space was called for.
The list of demands continued for some time and twinsdaddy, showing remarkable patience under extreme pressure, managed to avoid all but the most sensible requests.
The gardener is already booked for this weekend, the oven is going to be professionally cleaned, the shelf isn’t missing and I’m sorry, the nationality of the dishwasher is somewhat out of our control.
And then the mother-in-law turned up.
Typical Cotswold stock. A lady of solid construction and a face like a British bulldog. She was wearing the classic uniform of a 65+ female in this area. The stripey shirt and padded gilet with pale jeans and practical, flat boat shoes. I don’t care if Kate Middleton has been seen wearing them; they’re only acceptable when boating, and at last look, the Cotswolds was pretty well landlocked.
She was also sporting the jauntily tied neck scarf and of course, an obligatory string of large pearls round her chubby neck.
She looked me up and down, then cast an eye over to where the children were playing.
“Are they all yours?”, she enquired.
When I confirmed they were, she uttered, “Good grief”, before pulling a face that can’t possibly have been meant as a compliment, then turned and walked off.
30 seconds later, she turned and headed back to me and I naïvely thought she may have realised her comments were perhaps, a little unfriendly and she’d returned to try again. Oh no.
“And your garden’s in an appalling state. I do hope you’re getting it sorted quickly”.
We made our excuses and decided to leave the agent to it.
“Lovely to meet you”, we shouted as we almost ran back to the car.
And then the parting pièce de résistance from Mrs Bossy Knickers.
“We’d probably like to stay longer than a year, so if your plans change, do let us know”, she shouted.
Fat bloody chance!