THE QUEEN OF EVASION

I have a grim week of viewings to face this week for a house that will not sell.  I know this because there are 3 other houses in the immediate vicinity that have been for sale for over a year.  The lucky ones have buyers making lowball offers with terms divorcing owners cannot afford to accept.  And so the misery of living together in financial desperation continues.

So when yesterday I packed my children off to holiday with their father,I flirted momentarily with packing my own bags and leaving all of this behind for good.

I excel at running.  Running households, running up bills hills, running myself ragged and this month running on empty.  But until now I have never run away.  Not even when my first husband died 12 years ago exactly a year after our house flooded and left me tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

I often imagine saying goodbye to the furniture Doris Lessing-style in The Golden Notebooks, but try and focus on the things I can control and restyle rooms that aren’t quite working for yet another pointless family viewing.

First up I tackle a guest bedroom.  I’m not happy with the black faux fireplace and paint it fossil, then vintage it with dusk.  The result transforms the room. Instead of completely painting out the black and gold of the original piece I brush over it lightly so bits of black and gold peek through to heighten the faux vintage effect.

The thing about working from home is that sometimes life takes over.  This happens despite me never going out, never returning phone calls and never having people over.  It’s frustrating when the barbed wire defences we erect to keep problems and people at bay fail to let the messiness of life overwhelm us but in the words of Lenin “What is to be done?”

I used to write in an office for a living, but much prefer painting.  Writing to deadline with no music surrounded by people you occasionally sleep eat with was paid hard work.  I thought decorating and blogging would be lifechanging easy, but have come to accept mine is a 3 prong strategy.  Life is one of the prongs.

Most people are lazy when it comes to moving.  I know, because my agent tells me not to bother cleaning all day right up until the viewing. IS HE INSANE?  Properties above £1m aren’t selling. Buyers wait excitedly to watch prices tumble further. Sellers wonder why on earth they ever needed so much space.

In some ways I’m back to my old self gain.  Firing on all cylinders with 3 loads of washing done, the rubbish out, contemplating whether to go for a run or clean the house before breakfast. I wonder if there’ll ever be a life for me beyond housework?

But back to business.  I figure my house appeals to financial services types who only like what they can’t afford. Experience has taught me never underestimate other people’s greed needs.

Wealthy aspirational buyers will pay for what they want.  But only if they see it there in front of them.  Handed to them on a plate. Red Ferrari in the drive . . . keys in the ignition . . . dream house styled to perfection.  I call it buyer’s lust.  Their heart beats faster as the adrenaline kicks in and they’ll sell their children if it gets them what they want. I know this because I observed it for many years working as a writer for financial services.  It’s partly why I left. It’s hard to write repeatedly that your firm’s a meritocracy when partners line their pockets with the hard work of others.

Many people in financial services, some like me who grew up with nothing, despite gaining great wealth by everyone else’s standards, never seem to have enough. Women are well known for succumbing to this in the handbag or shoe department, but with men it can reach a whole other dimension.  Sports cars aren’t cheap.  Neither is prime property.

It’s crazy to be selling now when everybody else is desperate to downsize so it makes sense to go the extra mile and give that one potential buyer exactly what they want. STATUS.  Money can buy you many things but it can’t buy you style.

My original title for this post was “Face your Fears” but that fleeting moment of overconfidence has past.  Like the property market, I’ve opted for realism.

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