April and May 2009
Experiences change you.
Wildly happy though we now were, we were all different from how we’d been. Serena and I compared notes over the months.
Much more relaxed, in some ways.
Tbh, I suspect we’ve always been more easy-going than many. Shaun’s secretary in Parson’s Green called ours the “free range children”. And when we bought our first ever home that early summer in 2009, several professionals involved were... quite surprised.
The conveyancer said you find out a lot about people when they purchase property. Personalities pushed to extremes. If naturally anxious, you become a wreck; if slightly controlling, tyrannical.
“You and your husband,” she said, processing this, “are very laid back. I mean… very.” Yeah, well, when you’ve had nowhere to live at all, buying your own house becomes a bit of a cherry on the icing thing.
It took our mortgage chappie ten weeks. The vendors were in tears. My parents ringing up, worrying.
When the broker rang one afternoon to say he’d finally got the deal, I said, “Oh, ok. Thank you. I noticed interest rates came down very briefly about a month ago. Did you get it at the lower rate?”
There was a slightly stunned silence. “I thought I’d done pretty well to get you a mortgage at all.”
Yeah. Good. I just thought the lower rate sounded a bit better.
As it happened, for a decade or two some hopeful had emailed me annually to say, when I wanted a mortgage, he was there. I rang him and said he had till Friday. He whistled and said he’d never done that before.
A first for him, then.
Paradoxically, Serena and I also discovered we both had much shorter fuses than before.
Nowadays, when someone messes with me, I don’t wait four and a half years and watch my children homeless before I see red. I just go straight there and save time.
The removal firm ran out of space emptying their vans into our new house. End of the day, love. Gotta go. Have to leave the rest on the pavement.
I got through to the UK head of the firm, pulled him out of his meeting and blistered him to bits for twenty minutes in front of half a dozen open-jawed workers.
On second thoughts, the foreman meekly decided, they would take it all away and store it, free, until we were ready. And then bring it back. Free.
Serena discovered a similar characteristic when a council decided to be jobsworths over children’s donkey rides she had organised for a church fête. Simply, furious. Instantly.
I met the donkey, when we turned up to support.
Over the next year or so I required two different banks, on two different occasions, to reimburse us several thousand pounds apiece. Because I considered they’d behaved unprofessionally. Which annoyed me. In a way it might not have done, once.
And I told them so.
In like manner, if you call my daughter, “Robin”.
I’m going to angry eventually.
Why waste time building up to it?