Ross O’Carroll- Kelly
‘ People need to realise ‘ Room to Improve’ is just a TV show. It’s not reality’
Lauren hands me the keys to number 44 Glenabbey Crescent in Dortry and tells me I’m meeting a Mork and Linda Loughran at one o’clock on Sunday. I’m like, “Er, I don’t usually work on Sundays?” “Well,” she goes, “I need you to work this one.” “Even though Leinster are playing Saracens?” You’d have to be up early in the morning to get one over on Lauren, though – and when I say early, I mean before the Happy Pear goys are turning cortwheels on Greystones beach. “The match isn’t on until half- three,” she goes. I’m there, “You seem to have done your research.”
“That’ll give you plenty of time to show the house and still make it to the match on time.”
“Yeah, no, I think I’m going to pass on this one, Lauren. I hope you understand. On big match mornings, I like to sit down with my famous tactics book and take notes on each team’s strengths and weaknesses and how I see the game panning out in terms of, like, the result?”
“You do that then. And next week, you can look for another job. I’ll give you a reference. As a matter of fact, I’ll write it into your tactics book for you.” “Fine,” I end up having to go, “I’ll do it.” She’s like, “And make sure you take one of the company cars with you.”
She’s talking about the tiny, single- seat, electric cors with “New Stort Estate Agents” on the side that we’re expected to drive when we’re going to appointments.
I’m there, “It’ll take me about two hours to get back to Ballsbridge in one of those.”
She just goes, “That’s an incentive for you to make a quick sale then.”
So Sunday arrives and – yeah, no – I head for Dortry in the little Noddy cor – shades on, obviously, in case I’m recognised. Look, I’m not dissing eco- friendly cors. But, on the Milltown Road, I get overtaken by a Deliveroo Cycle Courier, who gives me a patronising smile, then a little shake of the head as he passes me.
I end up being about half an hour late for Mork and Linda, who aren’t happy rabbits. He makes a big show of looking at his wrist to let me know how long they’ve been waiting. I wouldn’t mind but the dude isn’t even wearing a watch.
If I’m going to make it back to Ballsbridge in time to drop off this biscuit tin on wheels, then get to the Aviva, I reckon I’ve got about 15 minutes, max, to do the showing.
I put the key in the door and in we go. I’m like, “Hallway, living room, there’s a kitchen through there, four bedrooms upstairs – do you want to make an offer?”
Linda goes, “Well, do you mind if we look around first?”
I’m there, “You want to see the entire thing, do you?”
And the dude – like I said, he’s called, like, Mork? – goes, “If we’re going to spend ¤ 1.1 million on a house, we probably should give it the once- over, yes.”
I’m there, “There are pictures on the website, but if you want to physically see everything, then, hey, go mad. Just to remind you, though, there are other people interested.”
He ignores this and into the living room we go. She’s like, “Oh, this is quite a nice space, isn’t it?”
And he’s all, “Yes, very nice,” as he walks around the room, knocking on the walls – presumably to make sure they don’t fall down – and she takes out a measuring tape.
“The measurements are all written down there,” I go, “on the brochure.”
She’s there, “I’m checking to see whether or not our furniture will fit. That’s okay with you, is it?” “Yeah, no, go ahead.” This takes – I’m not exaggerating – a full half an hour. She’s going, “I don’t think the L- shaped couch is going to fit in here. Hang on, I’ll measure it again.”
I check the time on my phone, then I turn to the dude and I go, “Do you want to maybe check out the kitchen while she’s faffing about with the measuring tape there?”
He’s there, “Are you in some kind of hurry or something?”
“No, not really. I just thought, you know, it might be a way of saving time.”
Out to the kitchen we eventually go. “It’s smaller than I thought,” Linda goes. The measuring tape comes out again. “The table will fit if we just have six seats. But we won’t be able to open it out to eight. Unless we knock through that wall into the utility room.” I’m actually sweating breezeblocks here. I’m thinking, okay, at this rate, I’m going to miss the first 20 minutes of the match and we’ve still got upstairs to do. The dude turns around to me and goes, “Would it be possible to knock through that wall and extend into the kitchen?” And I’m there, “Who do you think I am – Dermot Bannon?” “Excuse me?” “This isn’t some home improvement show. We’ve been here nearly an hour and we’ve only done two rooms.” “You’re not very professional,” Linda goes. I’m there, “Look,” deciding to just level with them, “I’ve got a ticket for Leinster versus Saracens. It’s, like, 40 minutes to kick- off and I’m driving a cor with the same horsepower as a forklift truck. I can’t miss this match.” “Well, why did you take the appointment?” “Because I thought you’d be in and out in five minutes. I didn’t think you were going to be measuring every inch of the place. People need to realise that Room to Improve is just a TV show. It’s not reality.” “Come on, Mork, we’re leaving. And we’re going to ring your office next week and complain about you.” I’m like, “Fair enough,” thinking, hey, I’ll deal with that when it happens. They hop into their silver Avensis, both of them fuming. I get into the Flintstone cor and I press the button to stort her up. Literally nothing happens. Except the little battery light comes on to tell me that someone forgot to chorge the thing. And trying to look as apologetic as I possibly can, I tap on the window of Mork and Linda’s cor and go, “You’re, er, not heading Ballsbridge direction, by any chance, are you?”
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE