For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been feeling very one day more-ish; just one day more and the life assurance will be done, just one day more and we’ll have a signed contract, just one day more and it will all be over. I had thought, mistakenly, that the seller showing up at our door—and posing herself as a cash buyer in order to harass us into making the whole process faster, as if we could!—was the worst that could happen. It wasn’t. I had also thought that, thanks to my excellent diplomatic skills, I had somehow appeased the crazy that was “Sheila Carmody.” I really shouldn’t have flattered myself.
A few days after this incident, the estate agent called.
“The plot thickens,” she said.
The indomitable Sheila, it turns out, having verbally abused the staff of Sherry Fitzgerald for over ten minutes, absconded to a rival agent and took the keys with her. She called the branch manager “a marked woman” on her way out.
Later we saw, in crappy pictures on the internet, that the apartment we were buying was for sale.
We figured that since she was not the only executor (her daughter being the other and whose approval she needed to do anything), this didn’t really mean anything. We decided to carry on and try our best to get the life assurance through before the latest arbitrary deadline thrown out by Sheila: a meeting between the sellers and their solicitor on Tuesday at 4.00pm.
That Tuesday, it was like the final scenes in Goodfellas, where it was all helicopters and drug runs and cocaine snorting and simmering tomato sauce. There were many phone calls directed in many directions between many different people: the mortgage broker, the insurance company, Joseph’s GP, myself. At some point, our solicitor rang.
“The plot thickens,” he said.
The intrepid Sheila, it turns out, had hired another solicitor and was intending to sue her daughter in order to gain full control of the executorship, her argument being that the daughter, a reasonable person by all accounts, was “acting against the best interests of the estate.”
That night Joseph took a call from the estate agent. I could hear that her voice was shaky from where I was sitting.
“Listen, it’s over,” she said.
The sellers’ solicitor had cancelled the mythic 4.00pm meeting as she could no longer represent clients who were taking legal action out on each other. The file was closed.
“I’m coming anyway!” said Sheila
“Fine,” said the solicitor, “but we will not open the door to you.”
One door closes, another opens, Sheila must have thought as she buzzed on the electronic gate to her daughter’s house. The daughter refused to leave her in. The invincible Sheila, however, was not deterred. She spotted a hole in a hedge, climbed through (did I mention that she’s in her late sixties, plus?) and made her way to the daughter’s front door. The daughter called the guards.
Our solicitor advised us to pursue the life assurance, that we would need it anyway. So, we did, and this week, with contract and full mortgage approval in hand, we made a last ditch effort to salvage the deal but it was unsalvageable. “Flaming nutjobs,” said the solicitor, “a fucking nuisance,” said the mortgage broker, “non compos mentis,” said the estate agent.
Apparently, there is another buyer and the apartment has gone sale agreed through the rival agent for all of a thousand euro more than our offer. Meanwhile, the bank now has the title, Sheila owes fees (to the tune of about ten grand) to both Sherry Fitzgerald and her original solicitor, not to mention her new solicitor, and, oh yeah, we’ve been done out of a home, again.
This is the part where I try to convince myself that it’s no great loss, that I didn’t really like it anyway, that it was a bit too far out and the sitting room really was too small and awkwardly-shaped. Never mind that we had already come up with “design solutions,” on graph paper, no less, complete with to-scale mini furniture pieces, or that we had started the deep cleaning and purging under the auspices of Operation Move, or that we had imagined living our lives there.
This experience has not been without its positives, however. For a start, the shelves in our kitchen cabinets are free of the heady mixture of soy sauce, molasses, and maple syrup that once covered them. My eyes no longer sting from the burning remnants of melted cheese from ovo-lacto vegetarian days of old whenever I open the oven door. We have full mortgage approval. We’re really good at house hunting now and know how to make offers and negotiate. We are on very friendly, familiar terms with all of the professionals involved, the estate agent having practically become our very own Mrs. Givings. And so, we start again and answer “maybe” to Boone’s oft-repeated question:
“Might move house soon?”