Sunday, August 2, 2009

Honeymoon Sweet

How I envy you both. You’re going to love it. Just picture yourself relaxing on a deserted beach, with the gentle lap of the waves, the lulling cry of gulls and, frankly, all you have to remember is not to get too close to the water’s edge or a seven metre Killer Whale might leap from the depths and drag you out to sea. We lost another honeymooning couple that way in June. Too much in love, is the way I see it. They were lying on their beach towels, furiously bonking away and – snatch – the next thing they know they’re somewhere off the Ross Ice Shelf being served as lunch to a pod of baby Orcas. Still, it’s a holiday they won’t forget in a hurry.

Trust me – Antarctica is the choice for adventurous travellers seeking a memorable honeymoon location. Unimaginative punters whose idea of an exotic experience is the Holiday Inn off the Patpong Road may be satisfied with la-di-dah toilets which flush, but I’ve been in the travel agency business long enough to know that my clients want something different, even if it means spending a few additional weeks trapped on an ice floe eating penguin chicks while waiting to be rescued by a Russian trawler.

Oh, yes, admittedly other just-married couples arrive home all suntanned, waving photos of lagoons and palm trees. But here at Bride’s Nightie Travel (motto: “You’ll Be Off Quicker”) we strive for the unusual. Who wants a hotel room with crisp, ironed sheets and those ghastly little chocolates on the pillows which have always melted because the air conditioning broke down and you spend the night picking gooey bits of Cadbury out your left ear? There’s none of that at Club Dread. You’ll be very comfortable, provided the dog sled can reach the huts before nightfall. Just between you and me, you wouldn’t want to be out in the open after sunset because the polar bears we introduced from Taronga Zoo last year to act as game for a planned shooting safari have escaped and were last seen disembowelling two British scientists who’d stopped for a pee behind a snow drift.

At Club Dread, remember, it’s all about you. For instance, the wonderful thing about the club’s Quonset huts is that, when the wind picks up to 140 kph and is driving snow and sleet through the cracked window panes, you can lie in your collapsible Chinese Army-issue bed at night listening to the rhythmic banging of sheets of corrugated galvanised iron. You’ll be asleep in no time – although if I were you I’d do a quick check under the bed each evening for rats. Roald Amundsen may have been a great explorer but he obviously never inspected his ship for rodents. Since 1911, the little bastards have bred and if it wasn’t for their crazed pink eyes which glow in the dark, you’d never be able to hit them with a shovel as they advance slowly across the room towards you at 3 a.m.

The cost, you ask? We have a number of tailored packages. For honeymooners who’re a little short on cash, we offer the Discount Deal. It’s simple. We video your first night in bed as husband and wife – in the best possible taste, as you can imagine – and upload it onto where sentimental strangers can download the video as a memento of the happy occasion. Whatever we make on the sales will be deducted (after we’ve taken out some trifling production expenses) from your holiday bill. I know these are early days, but if you do choose the BlueTube option, would you mind if in the opening scene of the video, the wife starts off wearing a fur bikini and the husband comes through the door dressed as an Eskimo? It’s a creative little scenario I’ve been considering and I think it could work provided you’re not put off by having a camera crew in the room. I’m trying to keep the crew numbers down, but I’m afraid Rhonda at Reception (you’ll have seen her with her feet up, painting her toe nails) has been auctioning the crew roles on eBay. So far we have 11 cameramen and a sound recordist.

If you’re a little shy, there’re other deals, most of which won’t require you stripping off. And, please, please, don’t be concerned about the two-way glass mirror above the bed. It’s mainly for show – unless, of course, the guests who’ve chosen the attic suite get inquisitive during the night. I always think a dead giveaway is when you notice a small, red “record” light on the other side of the mirror.

No, don’t thank me. It’s my job. Now, sign here and here. It’s purely for insurance purposes. You’ve no idea how pricey it is to get coffins out of a snowed-in camp.

# # #

© Greg Flynn 2009

French Letter

New Holland, Terra Australis
Dated this year of Our Lord 2009

To His Most Royal Highness, Louis XVI, King of France – or may I call you “Lou”? (I am afraid the over familiarity displayed by the locals here appears to be rubbing off on me).

I write to you as your most obedient servant, Jean François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse.

Just as I have always admired your dress sense – all that glisters is gold, n’est-ce pas, Lou? – I am also in awe of your patience. When I set sail from La Belle France in 1785, the plan was to cruise down to the great southern continent to see what mischief the English were up to, and then return home with my two ships groaning under the weight of silks, spices and exotic fruits (which reminds me, I must admonish the Quartermaster about his rogering of the cabin boy).

However, as we headed for Cape Horn, I foolishly decided to ignore the course that Captain Cook charted 17 years earlier, and instead took the pretty route via the Bermuda Triangle. With the wind filling the sails and a rather fiery Bouillabaisse under their belts, my ships’ crews ignored the Triangle’s vile green fog as it crackled with lightning. Not so our priest. I knew something was up when Père Pierre screamed: “God has forsaken us. We are all going to die!”, then flung himself overboard and began swimming back towards France. Call me superstitious, but it did not seem to be a great start to the voyage.

Days passed and I would have fallen asleep at the wheel if it had not been for the howls of torment from the crew – here is a tip for that gorgeous wife of yours, Marie Antoinette: do not put too much cayenne pepper in the fish soup, it plays havoc with the bowels.

One morning, as I breakfasted lightly on an albatross that had become entangled in the rigging, I noticed the fog lifting to reveal a beautiful sight. Et, voilà. Land. By some miracle we had emerged from the fog just off the headlands of what I now know to be “Sydney Harbour”. Dropping anchor in a narrow bay that featured a long wharf with en plein air dining, I chose six of my bravest men (and on ships crewed by Frenchmen they took some finding), and rowed ashore. I have named the place where we landed “Woolloomooloo” after the Aboriginal term meaning “place of pretentiousness”.

While we provisioned at “Otto” – a nearby store – I sampled a plate of Wagyu beef carpaccio with truffle dressing, capers, Parmesan and baby rocket leaves; rather overpriced, I thought, at $28. The store’s faux Italian setting confused me for a moment, but my extraordinary powers of deduction came into play when I saw all the street signs were in English. As you may have guessed by now, Lou, Les Anglais have beaten us to claiming the whole continent. Worse, a passing urchin, mocking my knee-breeches and stockings, shouted that the year was 2009 Anno Domini.

Mathematics is not my strong point, but despite me appearing to be 44 years old when I shaved that morning, if the child is correct, I am in fact aged 268. Either the whole affair is très spooky or it goes to show the benefits of using a good skin moisturiser. Nevertheless, following your instructions that I investigate our once and future enemy’s plans, I led my men away from the bay towards a high, rocky escarpment known as Kings Cross. En route, we were harassed by roving bands of brigands called real estate agents. In order to understand
this strange city, we captured one of the agents and loosened his tongue with a bottle of Château Pétrus ’48 that we had been saving. The agent summed up Sydney thus: the locals’ prime raison d’être is “where you live defines your worth as a human being.”
The city, we learnt, is quartered along compass lines. The Eastern Suburbs, towards which we were heading, has a sun bleached, haughty quality adored by women with surgically surprised eyes and their louche companions who wear the haunted looks of publicists. To the North lie humdrum suburbs while, to the South, is “The Shire”, a self-titling description which apparently boosts property values. The West stretches endlessly, well, westwards.

Belted tightly around Sydney’s core is the Inner City, an area that enjoys the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Sodom and Gomorrah – but with higher rents. Taking our captive agent with us, we climbed the slopes towards The Cross. We knew we had reached the fabled Inner City when we caught sight of the needle-strewn alleys and smelt the aromatic derelicts sleeping in doorways. Malheursement, Xanadu it ain’t.

Before we released the real estate agent back into the wild, he gave us this warning: ahead lay two suburbs uncomfortably rubbing their hips together. Crossing himself, he explained that the toffy one was Paddington, the scruffy one Darlinghurst. Property prices, he said, fell off a cliff along the border between the two, and Paddington homeowners protected their suburb’s regional boundaries as fiercely as tinpot French winegrowers fought to defend their Appellation Contrôlée. In “Paddo”, residents sipped rosé and let down each other’s car tyres (Lou, I will explain “tyres” when I get back to Paris) for the abominable crime of parking across the too few driveways, while in “Darlo”, junkie hookers banged their johns in graffitied laneways. Despite the contrasting lifestyles, the neighbouring suburbs’ architecture was similar, the agent said. Built by émigré Englishmen whose ability to recall the housing designs of their motherland had been almost erased by 13,750 nautical miles, the suburbs’ terraced homes were tricked out with wrought iron balconies and separated by “dunny” lanes.

His eyes wide with fear, the agent told us that we should avoid both suburbs. He claimed we could afford neither Paddington’s restaurants nor the gimlet-eyed courtesans who, in knickerless splendour, worked the streets of Darlinghurst.

Spurred on by your Royal command and the possibility of getting laid, my men and I pressed forward. La nuit became le jour and we found we had taken the wrong turning. We were in an area with the mellifluous name of Coogee.

Standing on Coogee’s golden sands with only the snores of drunken Swedish backpackers breaking the serenity, I knew the time had come to write to you. I sat down and, quill in hand, began scratching out this letter. But how to get it to you? The answer lay around me. Fortunately, the beach was littered with countless empty liquor bottles so thoughtfully placed there by local tribesmen.

In a few moments I will seal the letter in a bottle and hurl it out to sea. I hope it finds you as it leaves me – in good health and full of optimism that your reign will last a thousand years.

À bientôt … and a big hug for Marie.

La Pérouse

Historical footnote: During his actual voyage, La Pérouse wrote to Louis XVI saying that the expedition would return to France by June 1789. However, a few months after sending the letter, La Pérouse and his ships mysteriously disappeared.

© Greg Flynn 2009

Advertisement in The Times - "Lady In Waiting"

She has a lovely seat. As I watched her buttocks rise and fall – picking up speed until she was going like the clappers – I pulled the silk kerchief from around my throat and dabbed my forehead. There’s nothing quite like the sight of a woman who can sling a leg over, let out a full throated cry and not be phased by flanks flecked with sweat. It seemed nothing could stop her.

The rhythm picked up until her bottom rose one last time, suspended itself in mid-air for a lingering second, then slammed down on hard leather moments before her steed’s hind legs thrust into the damp soil.

Astride Zounds, her gelding, the Duchess of Cornwall gracefully cleared the wooden fence and disappeared amongst the trees that marked the edge of my estate. I heard Camilla shout “Tally Ho!”, followed by “Gotcha!”. The squeals of a fox being torn to pieces by a pack of hounds was drowned out by the triumphant blowing of the hunt’s horns.

Spurring my own horse Hubris (sired by Scenic [IRE] out of Lovers Knot [NZ]) into a gallop, I raced to the site of the kill. I prayed I’d be first to wipe the bloodied brush on Camilla’s still flushed cheeks – those on her face, that is.

I reached the clearing where the foxhounds were dismembering the tiny beast, dismounted and strode towards a tree stump where Camilla was sitting, her high leather boots planted apart. A Benson & Hedges between her fingers sent a smoke signal into the morning air.

“Fruity Frogmorton,” she called. “What kept you?”

“As soon as I saw the hounds were all metal and had a good head, I thought I’d let you have the honour.”

“Gosh, Fruity,” she said, squeezing my arm and leaving bruising that would take two weeks to fade, “how gallant of you. That vixen certainly is a quick thing.”

“Was,” I corrected her.

For a minute we sat side by side, our jodhpured thighs pressed against each other while we admired how Baskerville, the lead hound, dragged the fox’s carcass backwards and forwards over the soil, sketching out in blood what to my besotted eyes was a heart shape.

Camilla broke the silence by scratching a match against the underside of her boot and lighting a fresh cigarette. “I must have one more before Charles arrives. He’s a wet blanket when it comes to smoking.”

Her husband’s name, so unwelcome in such an intimate scene – just we two, the slaughtered animal and 31 panting hounds – made me start. Pulling my leg away from hers, I stood up, breathed deeply and tried not to dive back into the limpid pools that were her eyes. No, no, I needed to look at her. I turned and found she was squinting as the cigarette smoke trailed up, stinging her eyes and enveloping her head in a blue grey cloud. The last person I’d seen who was able to hold a cigarette between the lips for that length of time was Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep.

“Camilla, you know why I placed that advertisement in personal columns of The Times?”

“The one that read: ‘Mature, portly male with potency issues seeks bi-curious Thai masseuse.’?”

“No, the other one: ‘Mr and Mrs K. Friday was fantastic. Hope you felt the same. Your dreams are ours. And our wish is a second meeting. Maybe earlier than discussed? Respectfully. Fx.’”

“Well, you’d been playfully referring to Charles and I during our last visit to Frogmorton Hall as ‘Mr & Mrs K’ – K for ‘King’ – so when I saw the ad I knew that you and your dear wife …”

“Lady Penelope,” I said helpfully.

“Indeed, what a woman. When Charles saw her bending over the Aga basting a haunch of venison with gooseberry jam, I recall him saying: ‘I’d like a piece of that.’”

I gave a polite cough to cover my annoyance at the thought of the Prince tupping my wife. “Yes, well, getting back to the advertisement. I wanted you to come back to the hall so I could tell you … tell you …”

“Tell me what, Fruity?”

“Yes,” said an ice cold voice from a tall bush to my left, “tell her what?”

Camilla was on her feet, clenching her leather riding crop. Then she snapped the whip so hard against her boot I thought I’d swoon. “Who’s that?” Camilla hissed through teeth that, after decades of a two-pack a day habit, had the hue of old ivory.

The bush parted and Lady Penelope stepped into view. I’d never seen her looking more lovely, with her lipstick almost straight – which meant she hadn’t found the gin bottle I’d hidden behind the stable door – and the sunlight bouncing off the twin barrels of the Purdey Over & Under 12 bore that she was pointing at my crutch.

“I heard that bitch cry out and came here, knowing what was going to happen,” Penelope said.

“You can’t refer to the Duchess of Cornwall as a ‘bitch’,” I protested.

“I was referring to Baskerville. I know when that hound recognises a moving scent.”

Swinging my gaze between Penelope, holding 7lbs 8oz of hand-crafted shotgun, and Camilla swotting her crop against her Ariat Challenge Field Boot, I felt my own boot heels rise a few inches into the air. I was doubly in love.

The sound of Penelope cocking the Purdey brought me back to earth.

Taking a deep breath, I decided to throw her off the scent. “Did you know …” I began as I backed towards my horse, “that Prince Charles fancies you?”

With Hubris breaking into a canter, the last words I heard from the clearing were Camilla’s shout of: “How dare you, you strumpet?!?”

# # #

© Greg Flynn 2009

Taking out the trash

Tamping down loose soil with the back of a shovel firms up the ground but often it’s not enough to stop a corpse suddenly sitting bolt up in the grave as if Gabriele’s horn had summonsed the dead.

When rigor mortis sets in about three hours after death, the muscles in the body begin to stiffen, so I’ve barely got time to hop back to the service station to pour myself a steadying Campari and Soda before heads and torsos start popping up through the topsoil.

Of course, I could bury them deeper but, frankly, I’ve got a business to run. And, thank you for asking, the Dunroamin Service Station & Quik-e-Mart are doing quite nicely. Ever since leaving St Leonards in late July, I’ve managed to shrug off the stress of big city living. You may have seen the news stories about how the riff raff were moving into the Lower North Shore: flirty-eyed bail jumpers with too tight jeans, non-slip lipstick, moisturised skin and frosted highlights in their hair – and, let me tell you, the Ogilvy women were just as bad.

For 20 years, I’d owned a sweet little petrol outlet on Pacific Highway – at that spot where St Leonards leaves behind the hustling bustle of Crows Nest. There was a touch of the exotic about the area, almost as if the highway was winding its way north to the fabled ports of Aden and Goa rather than Artarmon and Gordon. Because most of my customers were wearing hats and driving Volvos, I used to call it “The Old Spice Route”.

Then the corporate gypsies rattled over the Harbour Bridge, flogging their hand-carved wooden pegs, “lucky” heather and slightly used Thought Leadership programs – so I left. But I’ve got my life back. All it takes is a no-nonsense approach to bad manners. If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s rudeness. Take last week, for example. There I was polishing my bowser when a large silver Porsche SUV slid to a halt over my right toecap. Leaping from the vehicle, the driver rushed towards me. He was kitted out in a black sleeveless T-shirt, camouflage shorts and brand new topsiders. “I hope you haven’t damaged my tyre,” he yelled.

Tugging at my shoe, I managed to extract it and, with as much dignity as possible, I limped around to the front of the car. As I lifted back the windscreen wipers, the driver reached out, grabbing my right wrist. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

“I’m about to clean your windows,” I said, with my brightest smile. “I’m full service, you know.”

“I don’t give a damn if you’re Mary Friggin’ MacKillop. Get your hands off my car.”

I’m not a Catholic but I’m willing to take offence on the Church’s behalf. After all, Pope Benedict seemed a nice enough chap when he visited Sydney, although he could butch up his image by ditching the red slippers. I like a priest to look as if he could tear out the Devil’s heart with bare hands not give Satan a good perm and blow dry.

Leaving the driver to fill his own tank, I went around the back of the Quik-e-Mart to the shed where I keep my shovel. With its long handle and 18 inch industrial gauge blue steel blade, it’s practical and stylish. Just as I turned the corner with the shovel at waist height, the driver’s “wife” slid out of the passenger’s seat and clip-clopped across the forecourt in high heels and little else. “Oooh, I do like a man with a big one,” she said, eyeing off my implement.

Now if there’s another thing I can’t stand, it’s a woman with a potty mouth.

Whack! She toppled sideways like a felled ox, thumping into the Porsche before sliding to the ground.

“Hey!” the man screamed at her. “Don’t get blood on the Cayenne.”

I lifted my shovel above my head.

He looked worried. “Careful … this T-shirt is Armani.”

“Yes, but only Emporio Armani.” Thott! He joined her on the concrete.

Piling them into a wheelbarrow, I trundled the pair across the road into the forest. In a peaceful clearing, I struggled with the old problem of just how to place them in the grave. If I put the woman in first – face up – and lay the man atop her – face down – it would appear they were bonking for eternity. If I put him on the bottom face up and her lying on top of him, also face up, I’m certain they’d be in a position condemned by both the Bible and the Talmud. So, as usual, I opted for her on bottom facing towards the sky and him lying on top, also looking upwards. In some ways, they appeared to be on a tandem bicycle, peddling to the After World.

Back at the service station, a police car was parked diagonally, blocking the Porsche’s exit. Inside the Quik-e-Mart, a young constable leant into the glass-doored cooler, handing cans of Coca-Cola back to an older officer.

“That’ll be $26.50,” I called out, after a quick calculation which included my standard discount for public servants in uniform.

“Let’s just say,” sneered the officer with his arms full of cans, “this is your donation to the Policemen’s Bundy & Coke Party.”

Now … if there’s yet another thing I won’t put up with, it’s bullying.

# # #

© Greg Flynn 2009

From Randwick With Love

The hotel’s Adirondack chair was as flat and hard as my stomach. Uncoiling myself, I stood and stretched, allowing the sea breeze to tug at the thin fabric of my swimmers. I heard Holly whimper at the sight just moments before I felt her running her finger tips down the machete scar between my shoulder blades.

Her lips came up to my ear. “Oh, Ignatius, thank you so much for last night. You were magnificent.”

Turning towards her, I cupped her chin in my hand. “I know you were disappointed when I stopped after eight times. But, frankly my dear, it was getting a bit – what’s the word? – ‘samey’.”

A single tear ran down her café au lait cheek.

Although my heart is usually as hard as my arteries, I relented this time and slipped a $100 note into her bikini top, telling her to go buy something pretty.

Before I could reach the sea, a waiter approached with my lunch – two chilled Feijoa vodkas and a hot Chinese dumpling. Her name was Cui Ping. As tempting as she was, I knew that I’d be hungry again in an hour’s time. Tossing back the drinks and waving away Cui Ping, I gave the waiter a tip: “Don’t wear brown shoes with a blue suit.” Ignoring his grateful thanks, I loped off across the sand to the water’s edge.

Seconds later, my lean, tanned body scythed into the limpid sea just as a pod of dolphins rose to greet me. Calling to them in their clickety-click language, I challenged them to race me to a rocky reef, a mere 12 nautical miles offshore.

Within the hour, I was back on the beach, the exhausted dolphins left far behind. Waiting on the shoreline were three men in hotel uniforms.

The shortest of the trio, a foreign looking chap with patent leather hair and a damp handshake, began to speak: “Mr Wolf, we …”

I cut him off. “There’s no need to thank me. Exercising dolphins is my gift to Nature.”

He continued: “…were hoping you could settle your bill. Do you think …”

“Think?!?” I exploded. “I insist! You’ll have the cheque by late October.”

“This year?” he asked.

“Quite possibly,” I said, patting him on the shoulder. I headed towards the hotel before the men could show their appreciation.

Once inside, an eager room maid tore off my swimmers, sponged me down and dried me with a soft towel. Ideally she could have waited until I had made it past the reception desk but she was insistent.

In my room at last, I dressed carefully, choosing a light blue Sea Island cotton shirt, a black silk tie and dark blue, fine wool trousers. Stepping up to the full length mirror I admired the effect.

“You look like someone rather senior in State Rail,” said a gruff voice behind me.

Dropping into a Wounded Crane stance, I let fly with a wasabi kick, catching the stranger in the chest and sending him flying across the room. Within seconds I was upon him, grabbing his neck. “Who the hell do you think you are, Trinny and Susannah?”.

Only my extraordinary powers of observation saved his life. He was wearing long black robes and a wide scarlet sash around his waist. Stepping back, I recognised him as Sydney’s Archbishop George “Big George” Pell.

Struggling to his feet, the Archbishop looked around the floor. “Where’s my biretta …?”

The edge of my hand sliced down on the back of his neck, dropping him flat to floor. I wasn’t going to let him find his gun.

Lifting his head, he groaned: “Biretta not Beretta. I’ve lost my four-cornered priest’s cap with a tuft on top.”

“Ah,” I said, pulling him upright and patting him down for more weapons. He was clean.

“Let me get to the point, Mr Wolf,” said the Archbishop getting to the point and confirming he knew me. “The Church needs you. Ideally we’d hire an albino assassin linked to Opus Dei but, if you’re willing to powder up, wear pink contact lenses and a cilice, the job’s your’s. Listen carefully – the Pope is coming to Sydney and we need Randwick Racecourse for our special events. However, the racing industry is trying to block us. We want the industry destroyed. We’ll pay $10 million. It’s nothing to be sneezed at.”

Eureka! A plan began to crystallise in my mind, freezing my handsome features into those of Rodin’s The Thinker. What was the difference between a bird and a horse – aside from size, feathers vs hair, number of legs and the ability to fly? Nothing. So, all I needed was a sneezing chicken and access to Randwick stables. Within a week, flu would ravage the equine industry.

Throwing an arm over the Archbishop’s shoulders, I gave him a squeeze. “George, why don’t we find ourselves a couple of frisky nuns and a bottle of Benedictine. You’re going to love this idea.”

# # #

© Greg Flynn 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just bear with me while I shoot the cat

“Mar sin tha beatha.”

No. Having the characters speaking in Gaelic isn’t going to work. Let’s try it with a Scottish accent. “Ay yoo, Jimmy, och aye the noo? Wha hae wi' yoo?”

Worse. We’ve no choice, I’m afraid, we’ll have to stick with Standard English. It sounds a little strange in these Glaswegian streets where the walls weep from the rain, but fortunately the background noise of phlegmy coughing from the tenements drowns out most conversations.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, planning to talk to the two wee ones on the footpath below. The best way to get through to laddies like them is to offer some friendly counsel. For instance: “Come near here again, you shites, and I’ll hang you both from the nearest lamp post.”
A few minutes before, I’d caught one of them writing in chalk on the wall of the house I was trying to sell. I wouldn’t have minded if he’d written: “Buy a lifestyle" or “Your private escape”. Instead the shorter of the two – the basin haircutted one who seemed to wearing somebody else’s ears – had written: ‘Condemned’.” In fact, he’d written “Kondemed.” But I’m a real estate agent not a school teacher, so the threat to lynch the pair if they came back was the limit of my advice.

No wonder I’m tense. It’s a high pressure job, this real estate selling in the Gorbals. My beat is the stretch along the south bank of the Clyde, up to the Broomielaw Bridge. There used to be a rather nice leper hospital on the Gorbals side of the bridge until leprosy became unfashionable. Now it’s a Pizza Express. I just hope they wiped down the benchtops before starting the new business. On the bright side, having a fast food joint in the area shows the Gorbals is moving upmarket.

A few years ago, getting soggy fish and chips and razor slash on your cheek was the locals’ idea of a great night out. Now you have a choice of such traditional Lowland dishes as chicken tikka masala or something European – perhaps scampi in a basket. With chips. The houses have changed too. When I first started in this business, only posh homes had a toilet. In other houses, you opened the upstairs window and peed into the street. The constant rain meant it was difficult to tell what was coming from Heaven and what was courtesy of the McNab family. Now, most residences have loos, many of which flush. In fact, the house I’m currently marketing has some outstanding features, including a working toilet (to be confirmed).

As I have your attention, you might be interested. Let me show you around. Step through this door. Now, don’t worry. I can see from your expression you think because the knob came off in my hand moments before the hinges gave way, there may be some quality issues. This house went up 200 years ago. You don’t get workmanship like this anymore. None of your nail guns, plastic and plasterboard used here, thank you. Each nail was hammered home by a craftsman. The wood is oak. Or it could be beech. Whatever. This great land’s fleets were created from this very timber. We sailed off to build an Empire on floor boards like these. What? All right, point taken, the English did the sailing and Empire building, but the Scots could well have been involved.

Duck your head! Now that’s what I call quaint. These low doorways just scream history. You want something to stop the bleeding? Just press a handkerchief to your forehead, we won’t be long now.

That noise? It could be the Scottish pipes. Turn on a tap and the plumbing plays “Bonnie Dundee”.

You’ll have to forgive me, we real estate agents are renowned for our sense of humour.
Yes, yes, I can hear it too. Hold on a moment, I see the problem. Could you turn your back? Just bear with me while I shoot the cat. Don’t go all RSPCA on me. It was a clean kill – AND you’ll notice the neighbours didn’t bang on the walls or call the poliss. True. Possibly they are used to the sound of gunfire.

Anyway, back to the cat. Lord knows how it got into the oven. Jings, is that the right time? You’ll have to excuse me. I have to go, I have another house to show. Please lock up when you leave. Guidbye.

# # #

© Greg Flynn 2009