The District

TO LET. Chapter Four. He left?, that’s right!

“Did Mark from the lettings agent get back to you?” Denise trilled from upstairs as she heard the front door shut behind Keith. “Alright Denise, let me get through the door!”. Keith replied, grumpily thrusting his laptop bag to the floor, narrowly missing Darren, the one eyed tortoiseshell cat Denise and Keith referred to as their ‘little one’. “So many pockets” Keith thought “what on earth are they for?”. Keith’s preoccupation with the detail of his laptop bag was a reflection on the frustration of his day. ¨It’s a bit like our letting agent. The right hand pocket doesn’t know what the left hand pocket is doing” Keith congratulated himself at the brilliance of his analogy “Too many departments, COMPARTMENTS – BOOM!” Keith’s mentally patted himself on the back.

“Turns out he has left!” Keith shouted up the stairs. “Already? He was only there for five minutes?”. “So who are we dealing with now?” asked Denise. “Who knows. We have been passed from pillar to post, around the country and now I am trying to speak to a call centre in Worksop!”. Replied Keith.”Actually Denise. We need a new agent. One who doesn’t bury their head in the sand when there is a problem. One who is interested in the ever-evolving lettings landscape, and would it be too much to ask, one who has actually been to the property in person?!”. Keith surprised himself with both his knowledge and his spunk. “Ooh Keith, I love it when you are forceful. Cooed Denise. “Will you help me reach my hat box upstairs in the wardrobe – remember it’s Donna and Brexit Ian’s wedding on Saturday” Denise requested, emphasising ‘upstairs’. “With pleasure Denise” smiled Keith, as led by Denise he climbed the stairs.

The District

TO LET. Chapter Three. I Smell a Rat

“Do you know what Denise?” Keith exclaimed as he rolled over in bed, nearly sending Denise’s prized ‘I don’t argue, I just explain why I’m right’ mug across the room. “Yes” groaned Denise. “I am smelling a rat!” Said Keith. “Bloody hell, they aren’t back are they, they cost a fortune to get rid….” Responded Denise. “No, no, Denise, not a real rat!” interrupted Keith. “It’s about that bill to ‘fix’ the shower. I reckon that property maintenance companies are in bed with the agent. Why does it always seem to cost us about 20% more when they use their guys?'”. “You’ve got a point there Keith” Denise admitted reluctantly “I bet that 20% is going straight in the agent’s back pocket!” continued Denise reflecting on this uncharacteristic cynicism. “And what does my dad always say Keith?”. “Double Deckers aren’t as big as they used to be?” Responded Keith. “No! If you want a job done properly, do it yourself!’ Denise curtly responded. “Oh yeah, how is his back now!?” Keith chuckled. “Very funny Keith”, said Denise. “To be fair, even your dad could press a booster switch without needing a trip to A&E!” Keith was becoming overcome with his own wit. “I am not laughing Keith. When you have picked yourself off the floor, I want you to ring our agent and find out the deal” ordered Denise. “Okay love” Keith sniffed through tears of laughter reaching out to hold Denise’s hand. Denise pulled Keith close. “I think you’d look good in overalls”. “I have some in the loft, hold that thought” Replied Keith. Denise beamed.

The District

TO LET. Chapter Two. An Expensive Cuppa

“Denise, did you see that letter from our letting agent?”. Chirped Keith as he vigorously shut the front door upon returning from a hard day at the office. “no” replied Denise “Let me guess, there’s been an increase in swamp tax?” “Haha, not quite” said Keith. “It’s a £150 bill from the agent’s property maintenance company!”. “SAY WHAATT!?”, Denise mimicked her favourite reality TV diva. “I know, right?” Keith affected. “What was the damage?” Denise quizzed. “Wait for the punchline” Keith excitedly responded. Denise always got a slightly sinking feeling when Keith said this as invariably it prefaced something distinctly lacking in humour.”Go on…” she attempted to enthuse. “NOTHING” Keith roared hysterically, kicking off his shoes, narrowly missing their much cherished ‘Live, Love. Laugh’ driftwood sculpture. “SAY WHAATT?!” Denise responded, realising her own repetition. “Basically the tenants…” said Keith. “Matt and Emma?” interrupted Denise. ‘Matt and Gemma, Denise!” corrected Keith.”Oh yes.” acknowledged Denise  “…reported an issue with the shower pressure” Keith got back on track. “Right” responded Denise. “They called our agent’s property maintenance company’s call centre who sent out a contractor from Milton Keynes – yep you heard it right!”. And what then happened?” questioned Denise. “They came over, pressed the boost switch, had a cup of tea and left!” Chucked Keith. “I hope it was Yorkshire Gold” Denise joined in. Keith slumped back onto the sofa cuddling Denise as they fell into an embrace. “How long until dinner” whispered Keith. “It’s Coq Au Vin, ready in about twenty minutes” knowingly winked Denise. 

The District

TO LET. Chapter One. The Hidden Cost.

Keith was chatting to Denise over dinner on their usual Friday evening. Keith called it ‘date night’. Denise wasn’t convinced by the label but she enjoyed spending time with Keith. It was a chance for them to talk about real is­sues and ask the big questions of each other. “Do you prefer dark or milk chocolate digestives Denise?” piped Keith. “Definitely dark” retorted Denise”. “Same” Keith quickly confirmed. Keith stroked Denise’s hand. Denise smiled. “Changing the subject, what do you think about the agent that manages our house in Cambridge?” Den­ise offered. “Don’t get me started, Denise” replied Keith. “I like Mark, and boy he’s got a firm handshake”. “And my dad says that’s a sign of trust”. “Oh and your dad is a paragon of trust” pointedly remarked Denise. “Anyway let’s get back to the point, for me they are like a budget airline” said Keith. “how so?”, questioned Denise, as she scraped the plates. “Well the original price they quoted looked to be really good value, and then the hidden costs crept in. It’s like the airlines. You buy a cheap flight and then have to pay to sit together”. “Hardly a perk” jo­vially interjected Denise. “And then there’s extra for the luggage, queue jumping, the inflight meal, the premier lounge. Makes you wonder what you were actually paying the fee for in the first place!”. “Yes I see what you mean. You are clever with your meta­phors Keith. Or is that an analogy? Blimey I don’t know. It could even be a simile. Anyway, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”. “Gosh, misquoting Shakespeare on a Friday Keith. Whatever next?”. “Let’s have a look around and see if there are any agents in the city who do things a bit more simply and transparently”. “Agreed” confirmed Keith. Shall we adjourn Denise, the dishes can wait”. “Oh yes Keith” Denise emphatically replied.

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