Image by Runs With Scissors via FlickrLate morning in a British owned house in rural France. The telephone rings.
'Bonjour...oh, it's you, Judy! How're things?'
'What, they've signed! Tim lowered his price, then?'
'Well, thanks, I did put a fair bit of work in on them in the time they've been staying in the gite.....you know, kept telling them how your agency would get them the best price and all that.'
'Well, when you get your commission out of the agency, drop a little bit my way, won't you....for keeping them on message.
Yes, I know, it's difficult for all of us at the moment, making ends meet, but if we all give a little and cooperate, we all gain.'
'O.K. Judy, thanks for the good news.'
Skype is activated on the computer.
'Hi, Tim! It's me! Isn't this Skype wonderful...free calls computer to computer!'
'I've just heard the good news...my people bought your place!'
'Yes, I kept them up to the mark and I'm so pleased that I was able to help you, I know things have been a bit difficult.'
'Mmm. But now you can get a new start in the U.K. with no worries. I know it was a bit less than you wanted, but it's not easy...I'm sure Judy did her best for you. She's such a nice girl.'
'What are you doing about moving your stuff? It's just that I know someone with a van who does a regular run...he could help out, but he couldn't take big stuff like your two sofas.'
'Well, think about it...it would save you worrying about it if I fix it this end and put you two in touch. And, about the sofas, don't think I'm being pushy, but if he can't get them in the van, they'd be really useful in the main house here as the ones in the gite are getting a bit shabby and I could move what we have over there. It's so difficult trying to keep up in the holiday market...people want everything top notch, but it all costs money.'
'Yes, I know, they're Roche Bobois...well, let's see if they can go in the van and if not it I would really appreciate having them. It's difficult for all of us at the moment, making ends meet, but if we all give a little, we all gain. After all, at least you managed to sell.'
Back to the telephone.
'Hi, Steve, it's me! Tim's place is sold.'
'Yes, the pair who've been staying with me.'
'Listen, Steve, I don't know where they are - Judy didn't keep tabs on them, unfortunately - but if they make contact I'm inviting them over to drinks tonight and just want to make sure you're free.'
'Well, they may not get back 'til evening, so just be available last minute if necessary, yes?'
'Much better if you meet them socially...Tim's been using Mark for his building and plumbing, and there's a chance they'd just carry on with him, but if they get to know you...'
'Yes, Mark's a real shit. He won't co operate at all. Annie said she recommended him to someone and he refused point blank to pay an introduction fee. I mean, it's not the end of the world, ten per cent, and it's not as if you lose out, is it, Steve? It all goes into the bill for the client.'
'O.K., I'll ring you once I know. Can you ring round Howard and Jim and Esme for me?'
'Well, it's a chance for them too with a change of owner.'
'Right, I'll get back to you. Nice to be able to help.'
'Yes, fine. I forgot in all the excitement...are they using Maitre Plouc as their notaire?'
'Oh, that's great. Did you talk about the translations?'
'Oh, Judy! No! I know he thinks his French is good, but it's always best with a translator.'
'Well, probably best you ring him and get it sorted. I can be free whatever date and Maitre Plouc is used to me, after all. You got him a good deal on Tim's place, so he can afford the translation fee!'
'Fine, Judy...no need to apologise...we all have blank moments!
Early afternoon, the telephone rings.
'Bonjour...oh, Tom! You and Angie have signed? I'm so pleased! I knew you'd do all right with Judy...I bet she really got a good deal for you!'
'Oh, that's a lovely idea, I'd love to go out to dinner with you to celebrate! I'm just glad I could help you.
Oh, but I've got a few people round for drinks around six...just catching up. What about you joining us for a drink...they'd be pleased to welcome you to the area and you'll get to know someone else other than me...'
'Yes, the Moulin would be lovely, such a nice place, almost as if you're in someone's private dining room. It's such a French atmosphere, but with London type dining...incredible! I know Sophie gets booked out sometimes, but I'm sure she can squeeze us in...would you like me to ring her? She knows me, after all, so she'll find an extra table if she has to.'
'Lovely. Are you on your mobile? I'll ring you if there's a problem and, thank you again. Dinner out will be such a treat!'
O.K., see you for drinks about six. I'm nearly as excited as you are!'
'Drinks at six, O.K.?'
A further call.
'Sophie, it's me.'
'Yes, hi, it's been a time since we met up. Listen, the guests at my gite are taking me out to dinner...hopefully at your place...'
'Yes, just the three of us.'
'About eight? Fine. Listen, Sophie, I've persuaded Izzy to have the engagement party at your place..if she doesn't call you in the next few days get back to me and I'll sort it. O.K.?'
'No, that's fine, glad to help.'
'Well, I was thinking more like three per cent...I don't want to be greedy, I know how things are. Still, it's not bad for a bit of PR work, is it? Have a chat to Adrian and see what he thinks.'
'O.K.,Sophie, see you later.
'Hi, Steve! Howard, how's the landscape gardening business going? Jim, Esme...good to see you! Your house management thingy is going strong from what I hear....I could do with a clear out here myself if you ever have the time. Oh, that's nice of you...you know I like Monsieur Cot's wine.
'Oh, look, here come Tom and Angie..and they're bringing champagne!'