Clammie has had to hop over to Well-Shod, the Suttonford cobbler, rather a lot recently. She has the heel of her Coltsfoot nude patent court shoe re-glued every few days. Well, she will stand on the metal grille over the log chute outside Shelley’s Estate Agency, gawping at their revolving carousel of desirable properties, which are actually well out of her reach.
She has kept her eye fixed on the housing market ever since the recession, as keenly as she used to follow the ball in Under-15 lacrosse championships in her schooldays. Should some old biddy pop her clogs, thus vacating a property, Clammie will strike as efficiently as a cobra.
Unfortunately, she has not yet sold her own house.
Basically, she is after a double-fronted, Georgian town house in the best street in Suttonford. Garaging would be essential, so should one with an attached carriage house come up, it would be a-ma-zing, darling.
When her husband, Tristram, drags himself in from work and sets to in the kitchen, she offers to lay the table and, pouring him a Prosecco, she begins her assault, as carefully planned as the logistics for an Everest expedition. The only difference is that he has no Sherpa support to aid him with familial burdens.
But, Clammie,..he expostulates, we can only just cover the mortgage and the school fees for our beloved bratlets.
Don’t call them that, she counters swiftly. Look, I can always do a couple of days in “A la Mode” to help out.
But you’d just spend everything you earned on their stock.
Yes, but I’d get a staff discount, so think what that would save you.
I don’t get your logic, her husband sighed.
Well, if I worked there, a scout might see me modelling the designer gear and may just see my suitability as a Kate Moss stand-in. Then think what I could earn. You know I enjoy spending, so I could derive gratification from seeing other people spend their husbands’ salaries.
Ah, but if you are going to be out all day, then why do you need a bigger house?
To store all my clothes, silly. It’s a false economy to have to stuff all my outfits into wardrobes that I can’t easily access and have everything creased to kingdom come. I can never find what I actually possess, and so I end up buying last minute alternatives.
Tristram sliced his finger while chopping an onion:
Ouch! Will you get me a plaster, please?
You’re just not listening and probably cut yourself deliberately, whinged Clammie.
She burst into tears. She didn’t know if it was the onion that had precipitated the flow, or her own thespian tendencies.
Look, said Tristram, sucking the bleeding digit, stop crying. You don’t even know if anything on the High Street has come on the market at the moment.
Oh yes, I do! Clammie was triumphant. The eight-bedroomed house in the middle of High Street- the one that was a seventeenth century drovers’ inn- was in “Shelley’s” window this morning. It’s cheap because it sits on a geological seam which has something to do with radon.
I’m not having the bratlets develop a “Ready-Brek” glow, Tristram shouted, waving the knife rather dangerously.
It’s no worse than the mobile phone mast in their school playing fields, Clammie countered. And it is a small price to pay for social cachet.
Then she realised that the au pair was in the adjoining study, Skype-ing her friends in some Eastern European city.
Please to keep quiet. Alyona glared through the open doorway.
Clammie backed down immediately. Sorry.
Then, turning to Tristram, she continued, but in a more subdued tone:
But will you at least consider it? After all, I have asked Kirstie and Phil to meet us there tomorrow, at seven, after you get back from work.
What! Tristram forgot Alyona for once. I’m not having that Allsopp woman patronise me and expose my lack of compromise on prime time tv.
No, you are perfectly capable of exposing your own lack of compromise, Tristram. Actually, Kirstie and Phil have been really helpful and even have a first time buyer in mind for our place.
Oh yeah, he was becoming sarcastic and hypoglaecemic. You mean, a ninety year old who has had a lifetime to save up a deposit. Don’t be naïve, Chlamydia- ( he always used her full name when he was annoyed)- we haven’t even had a survey done.
Oh, suit yourself, but Duncan Bannatyne didn’t get to where he is by missing opportunities.
No, his trip to the top of the greasy pole has given him the ultimate reward of a cardiac arrest and the chance to spend a lot of time with Hilary Devey and Deborah Meaden. Lucky man. But at least he had the sense to start small and kicked off his entrepreneurial activities with the purchase of a clapped out ice cream van.
Ooh, you are so bitter, Tristram. By the way, the risotto’s burning! Take it off the heat.
Well, will you take me off the heat, if I just go along for peace’s sake?
Okay. But you’ll be on my back burner if you don’t and Alyona says if we don’t go for the house, she will ask her syndicate to buy it and then I will probably end up looking after her kids.
Simples, mouthed Alyona, without even removing the headset . But I let you rent the carriage house. Boyfriend with Mercedes has deposit. He say me not just pretty meerkat.
Tristram knew the battle was already lost. He’d be working till he was seventy five, or would have to emigrate to Vladivostok. George Osborne had a lot to answer for by not pursuing mansion tax, as a husband’s ultimate get-out clause with over-aspiring wives.