The 'Not-Exactly-So' Stories

Part 1

Chapter 4: The Plot Visit

Sunday 04 August 2013.

At 0930 hours, Christine Boar drove her car onto the visitor car park outside the sales office. She turned off the ignition and gathered various belongings up from the passenger seat, opened her door and stepped out of vehicle. She juggled the items somewhat haphazardly in her arms as she locked the vehicle. She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out the office keys as she waddled to the front door. As she unlocked it, she swore as she dropped her prize treasure from the top of the pile of things in her arms… she had dropped a bag of two doughnuts that she had brought from home. She stooped down to retrieve the bag, brushed the dust from the bag and secured it between her teeth to ensure she didn't drop them again.

The sales woman let the door swing shut behind her as she walked through the main area of the sales office into her office. She let the bundle of folders, papers and other odds and sods fall from her arms onto her desk, but carefully placed the bag of doughnuts to one side of the desk. She rummaged through her bunches of keys, looking for the front door key to the adjoining semi-detached show-house. The kitchen of the neighbouring house doubled as her 'canteen' from where she brought refreshments for her customers. After she made herself a coffee, she carried it back to her office and set the beaker down beside the bag of doughnuts.

Christine lowered herself into her chair and powered up her new all-in-one computer that had recently been provided. While she waited for Windows to boot up, she turned her attention back to the doughnuts. She unfurled the top of the bag carefully tore down the side and along the bottom so that the bag became an impromptu 'paper plate'. She paused, looked up at the clock on the wall to her right and reached out to pick up one of the doughnuts. It was only 0945 hours, so she had plenty of time to devour the two doughnuts. She picked the cake that was nearer to her, paused momentarily to look at the thing longingly before sinking her teeth into it. She closed her eyes while she savoured the taste of the really sweet cake — her mouth was absolutely plastered with sugar. She licked her lips then continued chewing the doughnut.

Just then, the office telephone rang. She looked towards the source of the disturbance to check that the answer-phone was switched on. "Sod it" she thought to herself, "I'm not answering that!". Nothing was going to interrupt this gannet from enjoying her little pleasure. She took another bite from the doughnut leaving one more mouthful. She paused momentarily to listen for the voice that would sound from the answer machine, but the caller hung up without leaving a message. Contented once again, she quickly swallowed what remained of the first doughnut and reached out for the second doughnut and as she took a bite from this, a load of the icing sugar fell down the front of her pullover. She looked down and tried to brush it away, leaving a smudge of the dust on the sweater. No doubt if Arnie had walked into the office right now, immediately he would have thought 'scruffy bitch!'

After she had finished her 'morning snack', she logged into her email client. Among those messages in the Inbox was the one from Arnie Squire. She double-clicked it, not bothering to read the preview beforehand. Arnie had been good to his word and sent through the memorandum of sale for the property they had provisionally sold. She double-clicked the attachment, choosing to save it to her company's network drive. At the prompt, she searched for the directory she had created the previous day after the Squire's had left the cheque to 'reserve' Plot 15. Once she found it, she saved the PDF into the folder. She then double-clicked the new file and read the contents. She smiled to herself and thought: "I knew I was right not to succumb to their attempts to negotiate the price down. If they've sold a five-bedder they can easily afford the one here." She had no conscience over the fact that she had lied about all the previous plots having been sold at the full asking price and she had no intention of compromising her commission earning potential by selling another at a discounted price.

After reading Arnie's email, Boar decided that she had better respond to acknowledge receipt of the message and thank Arnie for the copy of memorandum of sale. Instead of doing like most other people and just hitting the 'Reply' icon on the email client, the sales woman started to write a new message but for some reason copy and paste Arnie's original message beneath her own message. After she wrote the message she filled in the email address and hit 'Send'. She checked the time and seeing it was 0955 hours, she went to unlock the Winsmead show house. By the time she waddled back into the sales office, the hands on the clock had clicked over to 10 o'clock.

Boar switched off the telephone answer machine and settled back in her chair. She reached out to take another bite from her doughnut, to see the empty paper bag looking back up at her. "Bugger!" she thought. She felt cheated that the doughnuts had gone.

Right at that moment her computer pinged. It was a failed delivery message from the Gulesrank email server… her message to Arnie had been rejected for some reason. She read the details but could not see any immediate reason as to why the message failed to reach its destination. She hit the 'Retry' but still the message did not reach the intended recipient.

Over the course of the next few hours, in between attending to some visitors to the sales office and the show-house, Boar made a couple more attempts to send the message, all to no avail. Eventually after umpteen attempts, she picked up the telephone to call Arnie to check the email address.

Although the television was switched on, Arnie was browsing the internet on his iPad, when the telephone rang. He answered to hear the sales woman from Gulesrank Homes, where Vera and he visited the day before. He was surprised to hear from her, but was soon to learn the reason for the call. She explained that after several attempts she could not reply to his message. They discussed various reasons for why this might have happened, until Arnie suggested he pinged her over another message to which she could respond. She agreed and Arnie hung up.

After he hung up, Arnie went upstairs to his office to send the sales woman another message from his Mac. He didn't write very much — just "hope this allows you to respond". Then he pressed send and wondered if anything was wrong with his email server. Just as he was wondering this, his blind copy of the message he sent to Gulesrank Homes came in, along with some more from some of his other email accounts. Arnie wondered what the hell she had done, so he decided to listen to the recording of his conversation with the sales woman. Arnie reached across his desk to remove the SD card from the trueCall™ call blocking system. As well as allowing him to block unwanted callers, Arnie was also able to record telephone conversations. He slid the card into the SD reader of his Mac Book Pro and started the software. He had to wait a few seconds longer than other apps because he needed to run the Windows software through Wineskin on his Mac. He didn't have to wait long before the GUI opened up. He scrolled down to the last recording, noting the time as 1440 hours on 04 August 2013. He highlighted the file and pressed play. The call was only just over a minute long, so it wasn't long before Arnie discovered the reason for the problems that the sales woman had encountered.

Apparently, she had copied and pasted the content of the message into the company's CRM (customer relationship management) software which for some reason prevented her from using the 'Reply' button in her email client. "Stupid bitch!" thought Arnie. "Why the hell didn't she reply first, then copy my message into the CRM if she wanted to? Surely mine can't be the first message she’s ever done that with!"

After he had copied the recording onto his computer, Arnie removed the SD card and replaced it in the trueCall™ unit and waited for the confirmatory message that it had been inserted correctly. The LEDs on the front cycled through their process before the machine spouted the message: "Memory card, ready!" Arnie picked up his coffee cup and went back downstairs to the living room to carry on watching the television program that the sales woman's call had interrupted.

Just over an hour after Arnie went back downstairs, the program Vera and Arnie were watching ended and the credits started to run, so Arnie asked his wife if she fancied another brew. Just as he did so, his iPad pinged to alert him of a new email. He looked at the screen to see it was the response from Christine Boar at Gulesrank Homes. He scanned the message quickly. "Stupid bitch!" he exclaimed.

"What's the matter?" enquired Vera.

"That stupid cow at Gulesrank couldn't even copy an email address properly; that's why her messages failed to get through to me. Apparently she left out the 'u' from our name. Don't people know that 'q' is normally followed by 'u' in the English language? Bleeding imbecile!"

Vera shook her head. She was quite used to Arnie's rants over the use of language — he was always correcting the local and national newsreaders and others on television who regularly replaced the word 'me' with 'myself', for example, as in 'send your pictures to myself at… He often used to pull one of his favourite stunts whenever he picked up some Solpadeine painkillers from Boots pharmacy. As part of the Elf & Safety spiel they gave, before handing over the medication, the assistant nearly always asked: "Are they for yourself?" In response, Arnie always replied: "No, they're for me" leaving the pharmacy assistant totally nonplussed.

Arnie carried Vera's and his empty coffee cups out to the kitchen and filled the kettle with fresh water to make another cup. A few minutes later, he returned, placed Vera's cup on one of the nest of tables she was using and said: "At least it looks like we might get some answer as to the internal garage door when we have the plot visit on Wednesday; she wrote that she has forwarded my message to 'Colin the Site Manager'.

The following few days seemed to drag by quite slowly because both Vera and Arnie were keen to check out the plot in which they had expressed interest. Eventually when Wednesday 07 August did arrive, they were well prepared. Arnie had remembered to rake out his Disto laser measure again, which he placed on the console table table in the hall near his day book and the various site and house plans he had printed from Gulesrank's website. Just before 1200 hours, the couple got into the car and Arnie set off on the trudge down the M1 and around the M25.

Unusually, the traffic was relatively light so Vera and Arnie arrived early at about 1330 hours. Arnie reversed into a parking bay that backed on to the side of the Winsmead show house, the style in which they were interested. He switched off the engine and the couple each gathered up their respective belongings that they were taking into the sales office. Vera alighted from the vehicle first and strode off towards the sales office, while Arnie locked the car. He quickly caught up with her and passed her so that he could open the door for her. On hearing the door, the sales woman looked towards it and quickly tried to finish the mouthful of food she had taken a few moments earlier.

"Oh, hello Mr and Mrs Squires. Excuse me" she said, "I was just grabbing a spot of lunch before we go up to Plot 15."

On hearing that and noticing how much food was spread out in front of her, Arnie had to bite his tongue. It didn't stop him thinking though: "Spot of lunch! Are you eating for two?" Arnie wondered if she was in training to take over from the bloke who presented Man vs Food; she'd certainly have given him a good run for his money!

"Afternoon" replied Arnie "and it's 'Squire' – there's no 's' at the end of our surname". "Bloody cretin" thought Arnie, "how many times has she seen our names written down?" He smiled a sort of faint grimace in her direction which she missed because she had her face down in her lunch again; but Vera scowled at him because she didn't miss it. Arnie regularly embarrassed her with his attitude or his general look of disdain with everybody. He always pleaded his innocence and reckoned that his wife imagined it.

"Would you like a cup of tea or coffee after your journey?" offered Christine, putting her hand up to her mouth, conscious that she nearly spat out her last mouthful of food as she spoke.

"No we won't, thank you" replied Vera speaking for both of them, after she spotted what the sales woman had done. Arnie closed his mouth – he was just about to say "coffe, please" but changed his mind.

"Colin shouldn't be too long" said the sales woman. "Would you like to look at the options for kitchen units, tiles and flooring whilst you wait, or would you like to remind yourselves of the show house?"

"I wouldn't mind having another look around the show house, if that's OK" replied Vera, at which point, Arnie moved towards the door that led out to the Winsmead show house. He opened the door to let his wife through, glanced at his watch and said: "If we get back in here at about five-to, will that be all right?" he asked looking back at the sales woman.

"That will be fine" she replied, "sometimes he runs a bit late but he seems quite relaxed from what I saw this morning."

No sooner had she finished her sentence, Arnie was through the door and closing it behind him. "Bloody chav!" he muttered as he walked along the path to the show house.

Vera and Arnie spent about a quarter of an hour in the show house when he said that he thought they should get back to the sales office. Vera nodded her agreement and just said "Mmmm".

When they returned to the sales office, Colin the Site Manager was chatting with Christine in her office. Arnie noticed a pair of rigger boots just outside the sales office entrance and a sparkling white 'Tonka' hat on the deck, close by. As Arnie closed the door out to the show house, behind him, Colin and Christine walked out of her office. "Mr and Mrs Squire, may I introduce Colin Rook, our Site Manager here" said Christine, almost proudly.

"Strewth" thought Arnie, "he looks like he should still be in school!". "Afternoon" said Arnie extending his right hand to greet the youngster. Vera also shook hands with Colin. Arnie wondered if Colin's mum extended the 'school run' to drop him off at work.

Colin was a slight character of slightly less than average height. Being so young Arnie wondered how he managed to control or earn the respect of some of the site workers, some of whom had probably worked more years than Colin's age. Possibly to dispel other people's immediate reaction to his youthful appearance and apparent lack of life skills, Colin sported some bum-fluff around his chin. To Arnie this was somewhat paradoxical with his prematurely thinning hair.

"Hello" said Colin, "pleased to meet you both. Welcome to our site — I'm sure that you will like what we have to show you here." This sounded somewhat as if it was the same line he trotted out to all visitors he escorted on plot visits. Arnie wasn't that impressed.

"I hope so" replied Arnie. "Have you been with Gulesrank long?"

Although young, Colin was not that dim and could sense the 'loaded' question from Arnie. "This is the second site of my own, after previously being a deputy site manager at the one before that. I joined the company as a graduate trainee, having studied construction at university" he replied.

"Construction degree from university — that was a new one on Arnie. What it did tell him though was that he had not worked his way up through the trade, by previously having been a chippy or bricky. "Nevertheless, if this is his second site, he must know something or just winged it" thought Arnie.

"Let's get you kitted out with some protective workwear" said Colin, at which point Christine disappeared into a cupboard and brought out some wellies, high visibility jackets and hard hats for the customers and herself.

"I'll borrow your 'Tonka' hat if that's OK" said Arnie, "but I've got boots and high-vis vest in the car". At that point he disappeared out of the front door and was striding out to the car park. He returned a few minutes later, carrying the boots and jacket in one hand and trying to manage his Disto, day book and papers in his other hand. As he stepped into the office, the sales woman said "Would you like me to lock your papers in my office?" Arnie accepted gratefully. While she disappeared with the day book and plans, Arnie stooped down to change from his day-to-day shoes into his rigger boots. While in her office, the sales woman checked to ensure that the answer machine was switched on. Meanwhile, Arnie stood up and threw on the high visibility vest that he had tucked under his arm while donning his boots and took the 'Tonka' hat that Christine was now offering him.

"Ready?" enquired Christine. "You lead the way Colin and I'll lock up the sales office."

"Why do you call these 'Tonka' hats?" Colin asked of Arnie.

"Jeez" thought Arnie, "where the hell have you been?" at which point he explained about the rugged toys that used to be sold during the 1960s and 70s.

Colin led the group along the road and up the incline towards Plot 15, all the while making polite conversation about the site and house styles past which they were walking. Arnie listened but didn't respond because he wasn't interested in the other house types, he just considered the inane chatter a sort of distraction. Even in his own professional sales career, he wasn't a great fan of small talk; he regarded it as a bit of a waste of time, but had to 'play the game'. Outside of work was different; he didn't consider he'd have to conform to professional expectations. Vera on the other hand became embarrassed by the 'pregnant pauses' so interjected with things like: "Oh, really" or "That's nice" at the appropriate times during Colin's dialogue.

Colin stopped and said "This is Plot 15, a four bedroom Winsmead".

Arnie looked at him quizzically and thought "Do you build three bedroom Winsmeads then?" Vera flicked Arnie's arm. She also noted what the site manager said and knew very well what was going through her husband's mind. Luckily, neither of the Gulesrank people noticed her silent rebuke of Arnie, because Colin was already leading the group across the muddy area that eventually would be transformed into the driveway.

Arnie stood back for a moment to take in the front of the structure. He also noticed the noises of some chippies working, instantly recognizing the sounds of sawing, hammering and drilling, although he wasn't sure if it emanated from this building or the one next door. Behind the scaffolding the concrete block and brickwork could be seen at various levels. The roof was on, but there were no windows in place. The house was 'handed' differently from the show house, i.e. on this one, the garage door was to the left of the front door, but it was the opposite side on the show house. Arnie put this down to being on the opposite side of the road and the developer's desire to create some form of symmetry. It also meant that the driveway would be on the higher side of the plot, while the ground in front of the lounge windows dropped away by a couple of feet from one side to the other. Arnie didn't regard that as a problem for a relatively small area.

"Presumably this is having some rendering on it, is it?" Arnie said directing his question at the site manager.

"Yes, that's right" replied Colin, "but I would need to look at the plans to tell you which colour. We use three different colour renders on this site; I can point them out to you on the way back to the office."

"OK, thanks" answered Arnie. He wasn't a great fan of render — it could hide a multitude of sins as far he was concerned. At least with this one, he had the chance to check out what would eventually be concealed!

"All right to go in?" checked Colin. Arnie gave his assent so the group filed in through the front doorway. It was just as well Arnie had worn a 'Tonka' hat because as he stepped forward he clipped the top of it on one of the horizontal scaffold poles. "Bollocks!" he thought, as he did so.

As he stepped through the doorway, Colin had halted the group a few feet inside the hallway. "Regarding your enquiry about the internal garage door" began Colin, "as you can see, there's not one here, but given the build stage we're at, I can cut one through here and put a lintel in. It would need to go about here, because the stairs rise on the other side of the back end of the garage."

Arnie replied "Yeah, that would be fine. What are the reasons that your genius architects or designers don't include an internal door to access the garage? It seems bloody stupid to me that the consumer unit is put in the garage. Imagine if for any reason a circuit were to trip during the night; you'd have to get dressed, go outside and open the main garage door, just to reset the RCD. Absolutely ridiculous!"

"When you think about it, that's true" pondered Colin. "I don't know why they don't consider that." As far as Arnie was concerned, he knew the reason — the designers were idiots.

"If you're happy with that, shall we continue?" enquired Colin.

"Yes, that's fine, lead the way replied Arnie. Now that he had agreement for the inclusion of the internal door to the garage he was happy and followed the others into the shell that would become the lounge. They paused to take in the space and the sales woman piped up to say: "the fire and surround would go against that wall there" pointing to the external wall on the left.

"Pretty bloody obvious given the other wall is a partition" thought Arnie. "If people don't have anything valuable to contribute, why don't they just shut up?"

As they walked out of the lounge, Arnie said: "I've noticed that there is no light switch just outside the lounge and kitchen doors. To switch on the hall light, you have to walk about six feet to a switch at the foot of the stairs. Not very clever during the night is it? If you need to go into the hall for any reason, you have to grovel around in the dark until you find the switch or leave a room door open and risk letting the warmth out of the room! Obviously another oversight by your genius designers or architects."

Colin felt rather hurt. He was very proud of the houses of which he oversaw the building. "I could add a multi–way switch here" he said pointing at the area that would fall between the respective architraves of the lounge and kitchen doors. Just let us know with any other options you may choose."

"Thanks, will do" responded Arnie.

The internal tour of the house continued but was a bit superfluous in Arnie's opinion; they'd already been around the show house. What he thought was more important was the whole plot and the orientation of the house. For the most part, he just kept schtum, giving positive noises when he thought appropriate.

In the kitchen/diner Vera voiced her first real comments of the tour. She indicated how much she liked the size of the area and how much better it was than the place they were leaving, the equivalent area of which was huge. She pointed through the area where the patio doors would be installed and added "I like the size of the garden too."

At that point Colin took this as a suitable cue to lead the party outside. "Yes it's a nice area isn't it? Obviously you can see the retaining wall to the left; that will be topped with a 1.8m fence with another 1.8m fence on the opposite side of the plot." The retaining wall was about 1.25m high and essentially held back the higher ground of Plot 16. It physically adjoined the house on Plot 16 and led away towards the rear boundary. It basically formed the left hand boundary of the back garden to Plot 15. As there was no fence on top of the wall yet, the steeper ground of the adjacent plot was plainly visible.

What made no sense at all to Arnie was that piled against the retaining wall in Plot 15, was a huge mound of sub-soil, clay and building rubble. "Why the fuck would you pile that mound of crap against an open side of a retaining wall? The wall is to hold back the other sodding land!" he thought.

"If we are to continue our interest in this plot, I want that bloody lot shifted and the ground levelled" said Arnie still shaking his head in disbelief at its presence.

"We'll level it as much as we can" crowed The Rook.

Given those words, Arnie was relatively happy. "And mind you bloody do" he thought. What he didn't realize then; however, was that later in a United Kingdom Home Builders Protection Board dispute brought by the Squires against Gulesrank Homes, in a signed declaration/statement, the site manager would lie and change his account of what response he actually gave to Arnie.

After the site manager had confirmed that he would level the plot, Arnie turned to Vera and said "I know it's only a 1.8m fence at the rear boundary, but because the existing house is set well back and off behind the next door plot, this one is not directly overlooked."

"Yes, it's much better" agreed Vera.

At that point, Colin took advantage of the slight pause in the conversation and said, "Right, shall we take a look around upstairs?"

Vera and Arnie both indicated their agreement and the small group moved back into the house through the gap intended for the patio doors. Colin led the way, followed by Vera and Arnie, while the sales woman brought up the rear. The stairs were only partially installed, to the extent that the treads and risers were in place, but there were no newel posts, bannisters or spindles. In their place were just timber uprights with scaffold poles joining them to form a handrail. Colin helpfully piped up and said, "Of course, these are only temporary handrails, the final ones will be installed later" while he carried on leading the group upstairs. Arnie shook his head, thought: "No shit Sherlock!" and glanced at his wife while she negotiated the turn on the stairs. On this occasion, Arnie thought his wife may have missed that one.

As they were ascending the stairs, the hammering and drilling they had heard earlier became more prominent and Arnie realized that the work was in Plot 15 not an adjacent one, as he first thought may have been possible. The site manager showed his visitors around each room in turn and on entering the main bedroom, Colin identified it as such and duly nodded towards his two contractors who were working in there near the window area. It was quite breezy on the first floor with the site manager helpfully pointing out that the windows weren't in yet, ending with the question "but isn't that a splendid view?" Arnie simply responded by uttering, "Mmm!" He still thought the internal plot visit was pretty pointless given that it wasn't even at first fix yet.

Colin finished showing his guests around upstairs, led them downstairs so that the chippies could resume their noise and once outside at the front of the plot, asked: "Well, what do you think? Do you have any questions or observations?"

Arnie didn't answer either of these two questions, instead he turned to the sales woman and said, "You told us on Saturday that the plot wasn't released yet and that you'd check with your head office when it would be — what was the answer on that?"

"It's great news" replied Christine. "After you registered your interest and I told head office that you needed to find somewhere reasonably urgently, my sales manager got an agreement from construction that the plot could be released."

Arnie and Vera both indicated their gratitude and delight with Gulesrank's amenability in releasing the plot, apparently early and said that they would like to proceed as previously stated. Being a highly cynical and suspicious individual, Arnie couldn't help but wonder why it should suddenly be released. As they walked back down the hill to the sales office, remarkably, Colin remembered to point out the different colours of render applied to various plots. Although of some interest to Arnie, he was paying more attention to the number of vacant plots there were between Plot 15 and the last occupied one in the row of houses. He counted about seven empty plots with most industry being on the four furthest down the road from Plot 15. These immediately looked as if they were ready for the CML inspection. Arnie began to think: "Why would Gulesrank release Plot 15 when logically, there are three or four plots that should be released in the sequence beforehand?" Although pleased that seemingly they had at last found a really good house, Arnie remained suspicious as to why the company would release the plot out of the blue.

When the group arrived back at the sales office, Colin indicated that first fix would be within a couple of weeks, so that he would need any upgrades/options for the first fix notified to him within the next few days. Arnie indicated his understanding and told Colin that he would forward these to Christine. With this, Colin bade his farewell to his visitors, said he'd catch up with Christine later and walked out of the office. Vera and Arnie expressed their thanks and offered their good-byes.

"Right" said Christine, "would you like a cup of tea or coffee while we run through the kitchen options, flooring and wall tiles?" On this occasion they both accepted the refreshments and secretly Christine was delighted because it meant that she could bring out the biscuit tin! Before Christine went to make the drinks, she pointed out the various samples from which they could make their selections.

Christine returned to the office with the drinks and biscuits. Still chewing on a mouthful of the biscuit she had snaffled while making the drinks, she asked, "Have you decided then?" not really expecting an answer in the affirmative.

"Yes thanks" replied Vera, "no thanks to Arnie though — he's colour blind!"

On hearing that, Christine reached over to the filing cabinet and pulled out the Squire's plot file and another pad of forms to complete with the options choices. "Oh, before I forget" said Christine, "let me return your papers to you" as she passed him his day book and the printed plans. As he took them from her, she dipped into the biscuit tin and took out a couple of biscuits.

Over the next half an hour Christine went through the options form, referring to the labels on the back of the samples as Vera indicated which she wanted. Eventually the process was complete and Christine read through the form to ensure that she would be ordering the correct items, before asking Vera and Arnie to sign the form. This they did and afterwards Christine handed Arnie a copy, but not before signing it herself.

In addition to completing the options form, Christine also said that she wanted to show Vera and Arnie some of the site plans and also complete the PMA form — but she did not explain for what the initials stood. Her customers indicated their assent and three of them walked out into the main sales showroom to the large table with the site plan beneath the glass top. She brought with her some other plans, carrying them folded under her arm.

"Right" she said, pointing to the plan, "this is the plot, number 15, that has now been reserved for you." She then opened out two other more intricate looking plans to indicate the brick, render and roof colours/finishes. The second was an engineering plan. She located plot 15 on the plan and proceeded to point out the retaining wall on the plan that they had seen during their plot visit. Arnie was quite accustomed to interpreting engineering plans, having done so when the couple had bought their previous properties; Vera, on the other hand found the process quite boring.

When Christine had finished showing Vera and Arnie the plans, she folded them up and turned her attention to the mysterious PMA confirmation form. This basically was a check-list through which the sales woman went, marking each prompt accordingly with 'Yes', 'No' or "N/A' as she verbally quizzed Vera and Arnie that they were in agreement with the entry she wrote. Once she had reached the end of the form, she triumphantly declared, "That's it, if you would sign at the bottom please, then we're done for the time being." After Vera and Arnie signed, she accepted the pad of forms back from Arnie, signed the form herself and gave Arnie the relevant copy. He slid the form into his day book with his other papers.

To conclude the meeting, Christine reminded Arnie that ideally, she would like an indication of their options by Friday 09 August 2013. Arnie said that he would email her these during the following day. Finally, she said that for the time being she had all the necessary information she needed and asked if there was anything they wanted to ask.

Arnie said, "There is one thing I'd like to know please. At what point can we have a survey carried out on the house?"

Christine paused for a second, before beginning: "Well the house comes with a 2-year warranty from Gulesrank Homes and the house is backed up by the NHBC for a further 8 years, giving you a 10 year period of peace of mind, so you don't need a survey really and it will save you a few hundred pounds."

Arnie looked towards Vera and said: "What do you think?" Vera thought for a moment and said, "I suppose it would save some money, wouldn't it?" What they had forgotten was that surveys were not just to identify potential structural problems, but also objective and realistic property valuations. They had also forgotten that not everybody shared their level of integrity. With this sales woman, they were dealing with an absolute lying bastard!

Christine, on the other hand, hadn't forgotten that surveys could also reveal certain facts other than just potential structural problems. She wasn't going to let another survey prevent her realizing her full commission earnings or result in the company being forced to drop its selling price on yet another plot.

Vera and Arnie accepted her suggestion of saving some money by not going for a survey. Christine breathed a sigh of relief, smiled to herself and thought "Mugs!"

Chapter 5

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