Archive for August, 2010

Getting on the Property Ladder

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

As mentioned in a previous blog, I recently purchased an apartment in Dublin. My new home is in Mountjoy Square, an area steeped in history and associated with a number of famous writers such as James Joyce, Sean O’Casey and WB Yeats. Lawyers, churchmen and politicians have also lived in the square in the past—and Joseph Napier, appointed Attorney General for Ireland in 1852, lived at my exact address—one of a number of Georgian buildings that have been redeveloped as apartments in recent years.

Arthur Guinness spent his later years in Mountjoy Square until his death in 1803. Dáil Éireann held meetings in the Mountjoy Square home of the republican Walter L Cole prior to the foundation of the Irish Free State. And most recently, the critically acclaimed movie Once was filmed in an apartment on the Square.

And it is in Mountjoy Square where I hope to continue my writing after a four-month break due to the stresses and trials thrown up by moving house. Although this is my first venture onto the property ladder, it reminds me of an episode from my life some time ago (as featured in Lord of the Rams).

I was about to start second year in college and had made the long two-bus journey from Cavan to Waterford to view prospective accommodation. Goosey, my flatmate from First Year and long-time friend, had stated clearly that I could get any place of my choosing so long as it was not Flat 4A—the infamous hovel we called ‘home’ the previous year …

Exclusive Extract from Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told
Arriving in Waterford, the Rams had a little less than two hours to find a home. With the internet still in its infancy, the only way he could hope to spot anywhere remotely suitable would be by combing through the morning’s newspapers. Unfortunately, a few phone calls confirmed that most decent dwellings had been snapped up a few hours prior to his late-afternoon arrival in the city. At last, however, he happened upon an advertisement for a three-bedroom house, centrally located and within a few hundred yards from the phone box where he was standing.

‘This looks promising,’ he thought, dialling the number included with the advert. A gentleman, who identified himself as an auctioneer named Joe, agreed to immediately meet the Rams on a city centre street.

Ten minutes passed by and the Rams was still waiting patiently for Joe to arrive. For the majority of that time a suited businessman had been leaning against a railing a few feet away, occasionally glancing over in Rams’s direction. Realising that time was against him, the Rams called out to the stranger, the returned greeting leaving him in no doubt that he was now speaking to the auctioneer. Joe seemed almost surprised that Rams was the same person he had conversed with over the phone, but the confused expression quickly gave way to one of cheer, and he spoke amicably with the Rams as the pair walked the short distance to a house around which Joe provided Rams with a grand tour before sitting down to talk business.

The house was nothing special, but it goes without saying that it was a definite improvement on Flat 4A. It had three reasonably sized bedrooms and its location was quite close to the part of the city the Rams was most accustomed to. Having asked the usual pre-rental questions regarding bills and utilities, Rams put the million-dollar question to the auctioneer.

‘So how much is this place per month?’ he asked.

‘It works out at 32 pounds each per week,’ replied Joe, alluding to Rams’s earlier comment that he would be moving two other people in with him. The rent was a little higher than Rams had hoped for but, with only 20 minutes remaining until the bus for Dublin departed, this was not the time to be playing hardball.

‘Well, I’d be fairly interested in taking the place. How much of a deposit are you looking for?’

‘Five percent of the value of the house and, once I receive that, I can hold the place if you’re waiting for your mortgage to be processed.’

‘What was that?’ gasped the Rams, scarcely comprehending what he was hearing and almost needing to hear it repeated lest his ears were deceiving him. ‘You said something about a mortgage there. Is this place not for renting?’ he asked.

‘Of course not,’ Joe replied, looking slightly peeved upon realising that he had wasted valuable time showboating the house to the poorest student in Ireland. ‘I was thinking you were a bit young to be buying the place,’ he added, before quickly showing Rams the door.

With mere moments remaining until the call of Cavan beckoned, Rams sprinted to a nearby phone box and dialled Mickey Rooney’s mobile number. It was the last thing he wanted to do but, given the circumstances, he didn’t see himself as having much of a choice.

Mickey’s phone rang for several seconds before an unmistakable gruff voice could be heard at the other end of the line. Rams rushed through the necessary small talk before asking if Mr. Conway had any properties other than Flat 4A available for renting at that time. Apparently Conway had a nice vacant town house, which would be perfect for the lads. But since Mickey was attending a horse racing event in Tramore that day and Rams was rushing back to Cavan, it was agreed that Rams would ring Mickey the following day to continue the conversation and perhaps—at least in Rams’s mind—provisionally agree to rent the property.

Unfortunately, the resultant telephone call squashed any hopes Rams had of living in anything other than squalor for the college year. Mickey, changing his story from the previous day, stated that the house was undergoing refurbishment and wouldn’t be ready before Christmas. All was not lost, however, because another property was available for renting immediately and at a fair price.

‘Goosey, how’s it going?’ yelled the Rams into the telephone receiver.

‘Not too bad. How did ya get on in Waterford?’

‘I have good news and I have bad news.’

‘What do you mean, Rams?’ asked Goosey, sounding slightly concerned.

‘The good news is that I found us a place to live in for the year.’

‘Nice one; for a minute there I thought you were going to say you got nothing.’

‘Well, the bad news is that it’s Flat 4A.’

And with that, the phone went dead.

Did you like this story? Maybe you’ll enjoy Lord of the Rams, featuring anecdotes and misadventures from my student apartment in Waterford in the late nineties. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).

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