Friday, 29 February 2008
Car-Fag Man the Estate Agent
We are tentatively looking at the Paris property market, which involves dashing round the city on metros and Vélibs poking around other people's flats, sometimes with them in, sometimes not, which I am loving.
The other night we were down to see a place over near Jourdain - I say near, as it's an expensive area, or at least if you belive Car-Fag Man, an estate agent we have seen once before in the area, who uses the traditional hard-sell, charm-the-ladies-to-get-to-the-men approach. I'm not suggesting that all estate agents are of his ilk, we were shown round a delightful flat in the 18th arrondissement (which we are possibly thinking about maybe putting an offer in on next Wednesday evening) by a lady who hummed a little tune all the way there and all the way back and was really lovely and not at all pushy, which completely changed our experience.
But back to Car-Fag Man, so christened, because both he and his vehicle stink so badly of cigarettes that I thought I might be sick there and then. The last flat he showed us frankly wasn't all that, dark and in a rather perculiar area where it seemed that no other people lived, so I didn't really hold out much hope this time. Nevertheless we had a rendez-vous, D and I, so we were planning on getting it over with and getting on with our evening.
Unfortunately, D had a meeting which overran so I went on my own. From the minute I darkened the door of his poky little office populated by people just ike him of varying sizes, he played the faux-galant ('Madame, allow me to take your coat... Madame knows me, that's why I immediately phoned her when this gem of a flat came on the market this morning' - I don't and he didn't, D found it on a website), while I tried to dodge his breath and fixed my eyes on the holes in his shirt to avoid looking at his big, grey, insincere face. Once in his vile car, I concentrated on the road ahead and told him tales of the UK, where his daughter (how he has kids I don't know, maybe he hasn't always been a Car-Fag Man) is studying.
On arrival at our destination - area not bad, not great, but not actively bad - I was immediately greeted with the sight of peeling paint in the staircase and corridor and a smell of dinners, providing that somebody was cooking old turnips and wet cabbage for their delicious evening meal. On opening the door to the flat of our dream, a smell of damp hit me 'because they haven't had the heating on for a while', a decrepit electric heater hangin off one wall, which didn't look as if it had been turned on ever, let alone for a while.
'What's so charming (charming?)about this flat is the size, you have two big rooms which you could do plenty with and if you're like me (I'm not anything like you) you'll like a big bedroom'. I'll give him the size and the potential and the fact it was on a quiet road, although being on the ground floor and slightly below street-level it was beginning to feel a little like a dungeon.
The pièce de resistance however, came with the bathroom, which Car-Fag Man had been saving up until last, so confident he was that I would fall in love with it and put in an offer there and then. 'The bathroom,' he said, looking unacountably pleased with himself, 'is newly-fitted (are you sure?), the toilet is around this corner, a great use of space.' Great use of space I'll give him, the reason being, that the previous owner had made a sort of glassless window in the wall between the bathroom and the 'kitchen', which meant that they shared a large sink enabling one person to have an interesting and no doubt stimulating conversation with the other, one in the bath and one preparing food. Less than a metre apart. The reason the toilet was around the corner in the 'bathroom' was because it was effectively the same room. Ingenious.
The fact that the kitchen was non-existant - some pipes and tiles - paled into insignificance in the face of the toilet-bath-kitchen set-up. Despite my firm 'I'm not really sure about the kitchen' and 'I'll have to explain this to Monsieur' the creep spent the whole drive back to my métro station ('because we can't have you taking the metro all the way on your own') trying to convince me how great it was, before holding out a flabby claw-hand (with long nails, beurk) for me to shake as I got out. I washed my hands immediately I got home and tried to exorcise the whole thing from my mind. Ugh.
I don't want to live near where he works anyway.
NB - I mean fag as in cigarette, in the Brit English sense of the word. Click on the links for Etsy finds.