© The Financial Times Ltd 2015 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
The bilious and withered face of treachery has risen to confront me this week. The perceived image of an estate agent is the Tim-nice-but-dim character: a decent sort of chap (or chapess) not blessed with the finest grey matter. This portrayal may be pejorative but I haven’t come across many intellectuals in my line of work – myself included. Doing a good job depends on communication, integrity and straight dealing, which GG and I pride ourselves on. There’s the part that involves networking but that’s the same in any business.
Earlier this year I fell foul of the machinations of Odious Bruha and Mr Slick – a duo who have had great success practising by their own rules, tenacity and mendacity being at the forefront of their business model. They were the Goliath to GG’s and my David. The whole experience was unpleasant but it amounted to people behaving badly in business which, as Big Daddy pointed out to me, is a fact of life. What upset me was that I was led to believe that my client – who over the years I’d become close with – had fallen for the lies that were hatched and circulated by the dastardly duo. I was told the client wished to sue me, believed I had profited from both sides and was incandescent at my supposed deceit. I was bewildered by such accusations but the stakes were high.
The client is extremely wealthy and an avid acquirer of property. He has the natural and inevitable suspicions that come with a £1bn fortune: “Is this person acting in my best interest or are they only here to take advantage?” Without meaning to sound self-righteous, I fall squarely into the former category. When I couldn’t get hold of my client I feared that the lies had taken root. This was a client who I’d introduced to Big Daddy; we’d broken bread together many times; heavens, we’d even kick-boxed with one another in a fairly unsavoury Kensal Rise gym.
To whit it was with enormous pleasure that I had a call from him last week and after a long chat we arranged to break bread once again. He’d been busy but had never believed the lies. I learnt the toxicity that spread from the duo had leaked into dealings with lawyers and beyond. I remember at the time the Odious Bruha continually promising to explain and giving me a long list of personal reasons why she couldn’t and, still to this day, hasn’t. Naturally at the time I was sympathetic (it was only business after all) but then the litany of varying reasons began to beg their credibility. John – my film director friend in LA, who does outrage well – shouted at the time, “unprofessional and irrelevant” and suggested I email a reply of “karma’s a bitch.” I didn’t.
. . .
As I’ve always been lucky with clients it was with relief that I set the record straight – though it transpired it has never been necessary – with this one. John would be happy with the karmic trading and though the dastardly duo continue to thrive in business, they know the truth.
As these satisfactory conclusions occurred GG and I took ourselves off to see a flat overlooking Green Park. We had the first viewing with many of our colleagues (who I suppose are in effect rivals). GG has a friendlier disposition than me and merrily chatted away. One man stood aloof – being the most successful developer in London, I think he was rather horrified not to have been given an advance preview solo. On leaving the flat GG and I got into our two-seat electric car. With a prevailing wind, downhill conditions and foot flat on the floor, 25 mph can be achieved; without that triumvirate in place we’re in trouble. When driving it GG and I celebrate London traffic. As we exited the tunnel beneath Hyde Park Corner the slope and headwind slackened us to a paltry 6 mph. London’s most successful property developer whizzed by in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom, looking askance at the glacial pace of our vehicle. “At least it wasn’t the Odious Bruha,” GG offered as we collapsed into laughter as taxis hooted us and I put on the hazard lights and offered some Italian hand-expressions to suggest we were doing all we could. That’s all you can do.
More columns at www.ft.com/secretagent
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.