Neither mirth nor woe: Friday morning
Friday morning. Any Friday morning, in fact.
We drive past the house, and noting the lack of a parking space, spend the next twenty minutes getting further and further away, until, finally, we find somewhere to leave the car several hundred yards from our target.
We step out into the chill of the day, and finding our bearings in this unfamiliar part of town, strike out for the house. Past a school, from where the sound of Away in a Manger played on a badly-tuned piano emanates, despite being only November, soon drowned by the roar of the main road.
We look up at the house, its façade obscured by a bus shelter which by night doubles as a urinal and a place to park half-digested takeaways, its once pristine frontage blackened with the years of road grime.
A hedge filled with something equally terrible and a front garden given over to dustbins, street litter and a pile of rags that may or may not be a dead tramp.
We meet him there, his suit shinier than his shoes, his smile like a hyena, hair cut by his mum, although he tells his colleagues – for he has no real friends - it's by a boutique where you have to book several weeks in advance. We note he has managed to find a parking space outside the house, for the Devil looks after his own.
He says something insincere to us, but it is, in the main, lost to the sound of forty tons of truck thundering by. I nod, pretending to hear him, knowing full well this is a fool's errand.
Then, he produces a key, unlocks the front door – once a rich, glossy green, now peeling and smeared with grey – and we step inside. In the bare hallway, the traffic is louder than on the street. White walls, tiled floor, stair rods holding down an ancient carpet that leads up to the flat we have come to inspect, the sound echoes about us, never ceasing.
At the top of the stairs is another door. It is clearly the cheapest possible from a local hardware depot, screwed into place as a property developer split a once-proud town house into shoebox-sized flats. Screwed to the door are the second-cheapest numbers from a local hardware store. 273B.
The door swings inwards to reveal a room barely big enough for the three of us to stand. Against one wall rests a bicycle which doubles as a hat stand. On the opposite wall, an open door betrays a bathroom featuring a tiny suite once clearly the property of an infants school. You could touch all four walls with your morning glory.
Despite the constant earthquake rumble of the road outside, the man drew us into the world inside his mind, that cheese-eating, I-want-to-kick-you-in-the-head grin still on his face.
"And this," said the estate agent referring to his crib sheet of lies as we struggle for breathing space, "is the dining room."
"Like fuck, it is."
Another wasted morning, for we didn't buy the flat.
Living in SIN would have to wait.