What’s The Rent There?

“What’s the rent there?” he enquired, pointing at a photograph of a large stone built house set amidst landscaped gardens.

“Five hundred and ten pounds per calendar month.” came the well rehearsed reply.

“I see. So that’s about,” he performed a quick mental calculation, “one hundred and twenty-five pounds per…”

“Actually,” interrupted the other, “it works out at just over one-hundred and seventeen pounds per week.”

“OK. But what does that include? Gas? Electricity?”

“Well. Gas, electricity and water are all on meters, so those depend on how much are used, obviously. There’s a satellite dish installed, and a receiver, but you will need to provide your own decryption card to pick up any channels. All the rooms are fully furnished and there’s a fitted kitchen with a dish-washer, washing machine, microwave, double stainless steel sinks with waste disposal unit, fan-assisted oven with eye-level grill and a mobile hostess.” This last list reeled off with the monotone of one who could repeat it backwards, and probably had.

“A mobile hostess?” the first one asked, slight bewilderment in his voice.

“Yes.” came the reply with smile. ” A little old woman who moves around a lot whilst looking after you.”

‘Ah,’ thought the first one, ‘Standard amusing line.’ and dutifully smiled.

“Seriously though,” continued the other, unaware of the lack of any place from where to be serious. “It’s nothing as glamorous as that. It’s a motorised trolley that keeps the plates and food dishes warm on the journey from the kitchen to the dining room.”

“Oh, what a shame.” said the first, with mock disappointment.

“Yes. Now, have I mentioned the bedrooms and upper floors yet?”

“Err, not yet.”

“Right. The master bedroom is situated on the south side and has a walk in wardrobe and an en suite bathroom, which has a bath with a fitted shower and its own toilet. The main bathroom also has a fitted shower and a toilet, and there is a separate toilet on the ground floor.”

“So there should be no queuing for the loo then.”

“Yes.” This single word delivered in such a way as to leave no doubt to the real meaning being “Don’t interrupt me with such puerile attempts at humour.”

“There are three other bedrooms, besides the master bedroom,” continued the other “each of considerable size with king-sized beds and fitted wardrobes. There is also another spacious room in the attic which could be used as a bedroom, although at the moment it is used as a study.”

“Back on the ground floor, as well as the kitchen…”

“And a toilet.” broke in the first.

“Yes. And a toilet.” The same delivery as before, only this time accompanied with a disdainful look. “As well as the kitchen,” resumed the other “which I’ve already described, there is a large dining room with a dining table seating up to twelve people. The living room has two levels, the lower of which has a large open fireplace. There is also a library, well stocked with a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Finally on the ground floor, there is a spacious cloakroom near to the front door.”

“Outside there are several outbuildings, formerly used as stables, but now acting mainly as garages and storage rooms, but could be put to any use, if so desired. And, of course, there are the extensive cellars, fitted with floor to ceiling wine racks, sadly empty at the moment”

“I see.” said the first, nodding. “There certainly is a lot there, and all of it for under a hundred and twenty pounds?”

“A hundred and seventeen, yes.” concurred the other.

The first paused, then, his eyes narrowing, quickly asked, “What’s the catch?”

“The catch? I’m afraid I don’t follow you.” The other’s face all angelic innocence.

“Oh come on, you’ve virtually described a mansion, and yet you’re renting it for a lot less than some council houses. There has to be a catch.”

“If you mean by ‘catch’ that there is some detail I have not apprised you of which may come to light at a later date and cause a myriad of problems and heartache for the unsuspecting fool who takes up this offer, I can assure you, there is no ‘catch’.” He smirked and added “In fact, the only catch might be one made in the river that runs across the bottom of the ten acre garden at the back of the house.”

“So. If I was to sign on the dotted line, I get the run of this four bedroomed, fully fitted kitchened, split-level living roomed, satellite dished, mobile hostessed, converted atticked, three toileted, outbuildinged, empty wine cellared, river running across the bottom of the ten acre gardened mini-mansion for one-hundred and seventeen pounds a week?” the first asked, with a slight touch of incredulity.

“Not forgetting the metered utilities, of course, which could be construed as a ‘catch’, had I not already mentioned them.” added the other.

“Yes, not forgetting the metered utilities, of course.” echoed the first.

“Yes. All that for one-hundred and seventeen pounds sixty-nine pence per week.”

“Right!” He exclaimed, clapping his hands. “I’ll take it.”

First written 1998-02-27

In the late 1990s, me and a friend would challenge each other to write something by simply giving each other a title and nothing else.
This is the result of the first round.