Aren’t Satnavs the most wonderful things, especially when you can choose the voice that tells you where to go? I plumped for a lady with a gentle Irish lilt that calms the socks off me whilst still keeping me on the straight and narrow, most of the time. I call her Coleen.
For estate agents, this fabulous technology has revolutionised a number of aspects of our business – instructions have been easier to find, especially on a filthy January night in driving rain in a lane so helpfully ignored by the local council’s road-numbering department.
Viewers, too, now rarely keep us waiting quite so long outside Acacia Avenue for that last appointment of the day, when the home fire is calling.
Mind you, there are a few agents out there who, upon learning from your viewers that you’re outside one of yours waiting for them, will do everything they can to delay Mr & Mrs Smith’s departure from their showing for as long as possible!
My Satnav would also have saved me an hour on Christmas Eve trying to find ‘Rambling Rose Cottage’ for an appraisal, after the potential client had so helpfully said ‘it’s half way down Broken Axle Hill’, only for me to discover the call was from the Christmas Partying crew from a local competitor, and the property did not exist.
Situated as we are on the main A40 Oxford Road just 19 miles out of London, in the days before wonderful Satnavs it was not unusual to get at least half a dozen lorry/van drivers in a day – each clasping a scrap of paper which they waved in one’s face or slapped on the desk, accompanied by a none too polite ‘where’s this, mate?’
Often you could tell they were unable to read (how did they manage road signs?) and it was not unusual for them to mount a critical attack on the veracity of our directions too.
All this is now a thing of the past thanks to Madam Satnav, and so never again will I react as I did at the end of a particularly draining day when the door opened and an oil-covered dishevelled straight-out-the-cab chap burst in, scrap of paper in hand.
Not waiting for the usual enquiry as to the whereabouts of Beaconsfield, I hit him with “and where the hell do you want?” A very salutary lesson when he replied “Well, Mr Kent, I WAS going to make you an offer for this property, actually!”
Satnavs or not, hoards of gentlemen of the press invaded a cul-de-sac in Farnham Common many many years ago flash bulbs a popping and outside broadcast vans doing what they do, on my patch. I knew this because I had gone home for lunch (one could do that sort of thing in 1993) and recognised on TV that they were outside an instruction of mine!
In just a minutes of background from the presenter, it transpired my client in Farnham Common was a certain Bryce Taylor who had installed hidden cameras in his LA Fitness Gym in Isleworth, and had planned to complete his sale and scurry off back to New Zealand before ‘it’ hit the fan.
Better still (publicity-wise) I had a Sold By board filling the TV screen, and I promptly thought what a good idea to fill a large envelope with photographs of their house (for keepsakes of course) and deliver them by hand in front of the cameras!
It worked a treat. I got BBC & ITV News that evening and even an offer of £250 for my interior pictures of the “Gym Rat’s” (as he became known) home from The Mirror – which I refused of course with the pious quote “My client Mr Taylor may have invaded Princess Di’s privacy, but I shall respect my professional duty to him!”
I see Mr Cameron is going to sack the planning minister if he fails to halt the decline in new house building starts, which will presumably be a timely banana skin that said minister will have to skirt for the next few years. He may well have to hide away in the Green Belt somewhere out of the PM’s grasp, but ‘oh no’ he’s got to release it all for building, poor love.
By the way, my builder friends tell me that the planners are still working to Planning Guideline 1928/1a known as BANANA, which actually stands for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone!
They’re currently remaking Dad’s Army with a stella cast of old luvvies and due for release in 2016, I understand.
The last feature film was actually shot on my patch, Chalfont St Giles doubling for Walmington-on-Sea.
Chalfont St Giles, well ’Chalfonts’ actually, has the dubious distinction of being Cockney rhyming slang for a painful condition twixt body and chair.
I thought I would contact Blightmove’s press office for a few jokey house names in ‘St Giles’ with a suitable connection but could find none.
They did, however, thoughtfully provide me with something to relieve the symptoms! Mind you, they were all in very high spirits there, having just heard that Chesnutsons had jumped out of the pan and into the brazier!
Wishing you all well this weekend, fellow floggers and renters – Big T.
Trevor’s Radio 4 visit to Walmington-On-Sea can be found here
He asks you to please listen as he would like the hits to reach a dozen!