Tuesday 24 March 2015
Cold and raining 8 degrees
I work in 'partenariat' with another local agent so this morning I showed her one of mine and she showed me one of hers. This involved an early start as she is juggling the demands of a very young child and an artisan husband who expects two cooked meals on the table every day. Apparently the 21st century hasn't quite arrived in this part of the world.
I get there at 9 am and she is just upstairs, cleaning her teeth and 'putting on her face'. I sit myself down in the kitchen and listen to the heavy chunking click of the wall clock and the periodic drip of the tap in the sink. There are some fabulous oil paintings of cockerels on the back wall and underneath, a large country style dresser piled up with paraphernalia of daily life; books, bills, wax crayon drawings, greetings cards, keys. P arrives in a rush and we climb into my car and head out into the morning drizzle.
The first house is just 20 minutes away and the owner lets us in. He is wearing a waist belt and had a trapped nerve in his back. His face is pale and he has lost a lot of his habitual bonhomie. The house is 18th century with interior exposed stone walls and high ceilings with beams blackened by age and many fires. The kitchen is bright and has lovely railway white oblong tiles running over the thick wooden slab worktops. A fire burns in the hearth and the immense TV is showing news of the Airbus crash over the French Alps. Everyone lost. We finish the visit in a mood of shock.
The next house is 44 kms away and we talk about statutes. This is how the work regime is described over here. P says that she managed to go onto auto entrepreneur status but it was very complex. Her accountant ('a real cowboy - I met him in a bar') advised her that she needed to cancel her status as an independent commercial agent, which attracts massive social charges (see yesterday's post) and then she would be able to re register as AE (auto entrepreneur). This she did but when she went to see the relevant government dept, she was told she couldn't re register for a whole year. As she was still working for her former agency at the time, she was aghast. The fonctionnaire (white collar worker) pulled out a piece of paper saying that there were exceptions to the rules and one of these was registering as a 'presenter of services', so that is what she became until setting up her own agency and becoming a limited company.
She also told me about a 'friend' who is a banker and with whom she opened her new business account. Her website provider is in the UK and has to be paid in pounds sterling. Her banker friend was charging her 54 euros for each monthly transfer from euros into sterling in order to pay these fees. Her calls and emailed were ignored. She is still with him. I would have fired him off in no uncertain terms.
My phone keeps ringing with the would be buyers of the house in my town. I have stopped answering their calls. Ask P for her opinion as to their case and she says they are in a very poor position and the other agent is sitting pretty. Oh dear, that is what the notary also said.
We arrive at the second house and it is a wonderful farmhouse so far from the road that I may never find it, and ideal for my road averse clients. The owner arrives with her son, who is autistic, and highly up on all the facts, figures and dates relating to the property. The poor lady has had a life filled with tragedy, her husband being killed in a road accident and her eldest son nearly being killed in the same spot a year later, and still having problems with infections and relapses. S is petite and immaculately turned out, her pale chestnut hair swept into a smooth chignon and pale skin stretched over a fine bone structure. We trot around the house and I really need to pee. I ask permission, test that the water is on, and bliss, am left to relieve myself. Alas, discover that the flush doesn't work. Come back downstairs and the autistic son says, very loudly, did I notice that the flush was broken. Feel embarrassed.
Stop off for coffee on way back. P asks if I miss my children, far away in the UK. Feel suddenly tearful. Yes, is the answer, always and forever no matter how old they will be.
Back home for very quick lunch and then south to a walled bastide town hanging onto a hill above a torrential and pounding river. The GPS takes me around many roads, none of which are right so the owner has to come and find me. His property is surprisingly large, with room after room after room and I suddenly feel very tired. We go into an overheated salon and he serves me luke-warm coffee and tells me that he has no life, the business is exhausting and he wants to sell and have children with his wife. I tell him that children are also very tiring and they are impossible to sell on.... For the price he wants, his property is also impossible to sell on.
Drive to local town in search of cake and obtain a very large pain aux raisins stuffed with massive fruits and pearls of sugar for myself and a lemon tart for OH. Back home in heavy rain and have to do lots of emails.
Spend evening with OH watching YouTube videos of men with very strange West Country accents, fishing off the rocks of the Bristol Channel and I start loading details of craft group ladies into the Mail Chimp software. Easter is coming up fast on the rails and I have promised them a newsletter. Three ladies have come forward with articles, fortunately, so I don't have to write the whole sodding thing myself.
Dog is looking very tired after spending last night in the outhouse. He can smell a lady dog in the vicinity and spent the whole night barking. At his age, he really should know better.