Sensible landlords and tenants are wriggling free of letting agents (aka conniving, monetary-succubae with horns, tentacles and ancient property databases.) Consequently, when renting or letting, we stumble into a world of strangeness, the far side, where the weird people are: a mysterious land called Gumtree.
Take this ad, for example. It was headed: Room In House £2 Per Week.
“Well I'm trying to be a writer. English is not my first language but unfortunately the 2 next books are both going to be in English (for reasons too long to explain here).”
Like, we’re in England?
Still, so far so, bohemian. She continued:
“They are both going to be very big fascinating projects. One is a novel, a journey through past lives, the other is another "feminine" version of the tale of Camelot ("The mists of Avalon" will pale in comparison).”
Self-belief is an admirable quality. Anyway…
“I need someone mad and creative to assist me, chapter after chapter, proposing new ideas, helping in editing etc, and possibly help me type when I feel too sick to.”
Oh, you mean, write it for you?
It gets better:
“I cannot pay upfront but I will pay a percentage of my royalties, which will increase if you will also want to function as my Agent. (don't need to be qualified, just a lot of enthusiasm). If royalties are not of interest I can offer a free room in my house until September. The most important thing is that you have enthusiasm, dreams, are good at writing, and possibly have a sparkle of genius and madness.”
She also mentioned that her home was close to a 24-hour garden centre; so handy for those late night water-feature cravings. I wonder if anyone accepted? And will they share the inevitable Booker prize?
Other ads make the previous example seem postively fusty. A friend placed a flat-wanted notice, mentioning that she was a single parent, and in reply received a lengthy, lyrical plea to care for her, promising she’d want for nothing. Daily emails followed, offering unlimited kindness, culminating with the phrase: “Incidentally, I enjoy light, consensual anal intercourse.”
I like the word ‘light.’ Would the dark version involve being rogered up the rear by Darth Vadar? I also spotted an ad where a landlord didn’t want a tenant, but a leather-clad gimp to serve him (“…light duties only – obedience essential.”) Remember, this is all in the property section.
Before I knew better, I placed an ad requesting a one-bed flat, specifying a city, but potential landlords plagued me with offers of three-room wicker maisonettes in Truro, caves in Wigan, or a lean-to in Aberdeen (available eventually!) anything but what I wanted.
I waited in despair, until a man offered a ‘hardly used, mostly empty’ flat (both caveats were unsettling). He was evasive about rent (‘We can work something out,’) and even if he owned the place. I held back with answers. Then he said, tentatively: ‘…In your ad, you describe yourself as a professional female. That’s an interesting phrase…’
Just the standard wording, I said.
‘It makes you sound like a working girl. Would you be interested in male company?’
Only a festering, man-size wart would interpret ‘Flat Wanted’ as ‘Hey ugly guy! Me love you long-time for garret in hovel.’
So beware. I found Nice Heights on Gumtree, but others might end up with more than a des-res.