I drop the phone. My cheeks are red with embarrassment after a conversation with the Portuguese estate agent. I rang them, desperate to find out if we had the house. I had nicely worked out sentences. The phone went to voice mail. Aargh! They rang back. Our agent doesn’t speak English. My sentences went to pieces and I managed to mutter the holy words ‘I’ll send an email’. ‘Gah’. All I wanted to know is ‘have we got the house!!’.
It’s a waiting game. A game we’ve been playing for four months now. Like chess. We are being out manoevered, mainly because we dither for too long until the house one of us really wants is gone. My husband’s dream home went, like a bluebird flying out the window, to someone else. The house was perfect. We couldn’t quite decide whether to go a bit higher in the negotiations, then…snap, someone else swooped in and it was gone. Someone else has that perfect view, the gorgeous kitchen, the living room with the huge picture windows. But wait, they’ve also got to put in stairs, fix up gates, install doors and flooring. Not so bad then, at least it won’t be us. We didn’t really like the village that much anyway, did we? There’ll be other houses, other views.
I can’t count the number of times we looked out over a big garden, a house twice the size of the one we left in the UK, with a good view and said ‘ it’s perfect but I just don’t feel it’. Finally we all felt it for a farm house in Torres Novas. We arranged a second view to show the children. What happened? The morning we were due to visit in pinged an email. The house had two other offers. We still went. We put in a higher offer in case the other one fell through, to make sure we were next in line. So I’m sorry, whoever you are, but I really, really don’t want you to get that mortgage. I want exchange rates to go in our favour, the euro to crash and I want banks to stop giving out mortgages until we have our house.
Why is it like chess? We have an offer on another house too just to make sure we don’t have to spend any longer living in the building site of the house we are renovating. The other house is a repossession and they are meeting on Thursday about our offer. We have to make it formal today. Tomorrow is a bank holiday. So we need to know, before five o’ clock, whether we can have house number one. We have fifteen minutes to find out.
In the wake of my failure my husband is about to phone our estate agents again. He is working out his Portuguese sentences with google translate. My son comes in and distracts him. He is picking up the phone. We send the boy downstairs. He bounces the football inside, annoying the neighbours and annoying the hell out of me, but I should be earth mother and go and play with him. Oh we so need that farm.
At ten minutes to five my husband is speaking fluent sounding Portuguese. I have to be at school at five and I hover in the background. He puts down the phone. “So? What did they say?” He shrugs tensely. “It was an answer phone”.