Ross O’Car­roll- Kelly

‘ Peo­ple need to re­alise ‘ Room to Im­prove’ is just a TV show. It’s not re­al­ity’

The Irish Times Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

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