Well folks, it’s been a spectacular show at Deadlyjelly’s Travelling Circus.
We have now officially viewed every house/shack/shed for sale in Oamaru; got to grips with dry rot; negotiated until our eyes bled; counter-offered until the vendors’ eyes bled; and fought off ravening real estate agents with targeted nudity. We set the dog on one and currently have a hit-man contracted to take out another.
As if that weren’t enough, there was also a fortieth birthday party with possum; explosive goats; t-shirts with nipple holes; a caesarian resulting in two squeaking puppies; and five bags of baby clothes. In the meantime, I tested the structural integrity of a lamp-post with the rear bumper of the Outlaws’ Audi v8.
But in the midst of this extravaganza bonanza, by far the most exciting event was SANDWICHES!
No, wait. Not that.
I meant: the auction.
The auction with SANDWICHES!
Because the latest trip to Oamaru was scheduled around the sale of Orchard House.
Three weeks ago, after viewing Orchard House at the open home, we called in to see the real estate agent – not affectionately called Haemorrhoid. When we told her we were interested in the property, she practically gnawed our arms off.
Haemorrhoid agreed to show us the place again two days later and, while there, I reiterated our interest and suggested we might put in an offer before it went to auction. With a practiced pout of devastated regret – which she might have pulled off were it not for the smug smirk and misplaced air of self-importance – she said, “Weeell, we’ve had a lot of interest, you know. Lot. Of interest. Especially from out-of-towners. You’d really need to put your best foot forward.”
As it turned out, I should have followed my instincts to put my best foot forward then and there and rearranged her face.
That would be called a Benefit of Hindsight.
We came away with the distinct impression that we were too shabby to afford Orchard House – and that we should wash our car.
However, we had an undercover agent operating on our behalf in Waitaki. Concealed in a shrub with a pair of binoculars, Her Goatiness staked out the open homes every Saturday and Sunday in the lead-up to the auction. Her report stated: ‘Nil zero sum total zilch visitors. Quote lot of interest unquote appears alleged and spurious. Slash Haemorrhoid’s tyres? Please advise.’
A week before the auction, Haemorrhoid sent us a text message asking if we were attending. After analysing the slightly desperate tone of the text, Andrew and I deduced we were possibly the sole and exceptionally rare party interested in Orchard House.
Now, you may have picked up that Andrew was immoderately unenthused about Orchard House upon first viewing. And yes, of course I considered emotionally blackmailing him with the additional leverage of being 5 months pregnant with his child.
However, after many extensive discussions on the issue of property, we came to understand what is important to him and me and to us as a couple, and an awful lot of that is wanting the other to be happy. Which is just one of the reasons I love being half of this partnership. So I applied no further persuasion (apart from occasionally reminding him of the ORCHARD! just to be absolutely sure he was aware of the presence of peach trees.) Eventually he announced he ‘could live there if he had to’ – which, as far as I was concerned, was a seal of approval.
His change of attitude was more a gradually encroaching yet entirely grudging acknowledgement that Orchard House was perhaps the best of all the properties we’d viewed within our budget.
And so we geared up for auction. We notified Haemorrhoid we would attend; Andrew boned up on auction terminology; we confirmed our finance was set to go; we scoured the auction pack; we wondered whether there would be snacks.
Ok, I wondered whether there’d be snacks.
(I mean: they were going to a lot of trouble; you’d think they’d lay on snacks, right?)
We agreed Husband should do the bidding, since I was rather over-excited. My job – which Andrew made up on the morning to keep me amused and make me feel involved – was to note the progression of the auction: the order of bidding and amounts. I had a pen.
We were barely in the door when I was distracted by three huge platters of SANDWICHES! They looked WONDERFUL: cut on the diagonal with no crusts and an imaginative and challenging range of fillings involving mayonnaise. I asked Andrew to taste a couple for meat and/or poison but pushed him out of the way because he took too long.
I’d just about finished the first platter when the Old Girl – one of the vendors, who we’d met at the second viewing of the house – came over to chat. She asked after The Asset, then disappeared and returned seconds later with a gift: a knitted doll. Her husband’s hobby is knitting dolls. He’s Dutch. Really, I can’t make further comment, because it was an incredibly sweet gesture and I was – look, I was touched. It’s our first baby present.
However, I do blame her for my neglecting to spot the plate of miniature Lamingtons until just before the auction started. The presentation was a thing of beauty: a mass of chocolate and delicate pink coconut-covered confections topped with puffs of cream. Unfortunately I only had time to cram one into my mouth before the auction kicked off.
There were about twelve bystanders: a couple of families with kids, some squinty-eyed mouth-breathers and a coven of real estate agents who all looked like they styled their hair with a deep fat fryer. I stood there eyeballing potential opponents to intimidate them – a difficult stunt to pull with a knitted dolly tucked under one arm and my chin pebbledashed with dessicated coconut.
Now, my Bucket List isn’t that ambitious. Well, it’s virtually indistinguishable from my New Year’s Resolutions for the last decade, except that it includes singing karaoke. I’ve never been much interested in seeing the Northern Lights because, you know, I’m pretty sure you can achieve much the same effect with certain drugs. And I’ve never had any interest in swimming with dolphins. They’re slimy, nasty, vicious creatures with a reputation for kidnapping, bullying, extortion and even murder. They probably don’t put the toilet seat down and also, DOLPHINS RAPE WOMEN. That last link is well worth reading for Pearl Caligula’s description of Ireland’s national treasure alone which, if it doesn’t make you laugh like a drain, either your sense of humour or mine is defective. No no, I wouldn’t like to say which. I’m sure you’ll giggle.
Bidding at auction was never originally on my Bucket List, but that, my friends, was an oversight. The tense battle of nerves between auctioneer and bidder was such a RUSH. And when Andrew bid – I swear I have NEVER experienced anything so SEXY. It was just as well he was the only person bidding. It could have got positively indecent except that, thankfully, Husband had a SANDWICH! concealed in his pocket. (Curried egg mayo with grated carrot – surprisingly delicious.)
Our bid didn’t reach the reserve despite the auctioneer’s increasingly desperate attempts to persuade us to bid against ourselves; or anyone else to join in. The auction passed in.
After all the excitement, the aftermath was a bit of an anticlimax. We went into the house and sat on hard chairs. Haemorrhoid seemed at a loss as to how to facilitate negotiating an agreement midway between the vendor’s reserve and our bid. We attempted to kick-start the process by upping our offer. She ignored that and instead, attempted to intimidate us by informing us there was another couple present who were prevented from bidding at auction but planned to put in an offer. Unfortunately for her, we’ve never been much intimidated by imaginary people.
At this stage, Haemorrhoid had a face on her like she’d been licking a cat’s arse, which was putting me off the remainder of the SANDWICHES! I realized it was all over when I discovered the fucking kids had cleaned out the Lamingtons. We made our excuses and left after the Old Boy attempted to confiscate his knitted doll.
As it turned out, we should have known better than to take on a Dutch couple with nearly 160 years of combined cunning, guile and inbred tightness between them. The last thing we heard from Haemorrhoid was that the Old Boy had asked her to relist the house at precisely the mid-point between his reserve and our offer.
So just to spite her, we bought another house.