My relationship with the mega house – a property of some 12,000 sq ft in Belgravia with garaging, a mews, cinema, gym and all the trimmings that one would expect for a shade under £30m ($46m) – has been a long one. It’s a great house and we are lucky to be discreetly selling it – but at a price that until recently was too high. Now though, the market has “caught up with it” as agents are fond of saying. And the market, which at the super-prime end is dominated by Russian and Middle Eastern money, still wants to live in Belgravia or Knightsbridge.
GG seems to be doing most of the viewings and I wonder whether it’s a malaise that I have for coming so close to selling it; due to capricious natures of both sides it fell through … thrice. Perhaps I’m just being lazy in letting GG do the work.
One of my better qualities (he writes modestly) is that I can take criticism and be self-critical; a less admirable trait is my ability to bury my head in the sand and not face what I know I should. It spreads through my business and personal life and, while it’s not constant in either, it’s something that I both deplore and do little about. I was talking about this characteristic with my therapist. We talked of those who live in full consciousness and those who live in semi-consciousness caught up in the quotidian of life but not engaging in the larger world. So many of us float through life without seizing all we can learn, enjoy and give. It depresses me for I fall largely into the floating category. The only consolation is that, where there is a will, that state of engagement can change.
I’m entering this new phase optimistically and tentatively – if that isn’t a tautology. I’ve always engaged in my work but I feel renewed positivity regarding our clients. We have found what I believe is the perfect house for one (though he hasn’t seen it and it is £2m under budget) as it offers almost everything he wants. Maybe my consciousness is making me deluded.
The market in general is yet to find its feet – good places have lingered and others that I would never have expected to come close to the preposterous figures suggested have gone for full asking price. It seems that if people love something, they will pay for it. And there’s a house (that admittedly started asking way too much money) in my new neighbourhood of Little Venice that I love and am determined to sell. Very rarely – for my immunity is strong – is there a flat or house that I just fall for and as with an individual “the falling” can often be an irrational desire. It’s never about size or price or gadgetry with me, it’s about the space, feel, outlook and light.
My first love was a flat in Chelsea overlooking a garden square and flooded with light. It was on the third and fourth floors without a lift though with good ceiling heights and had enough room to entertain eight to dinner and 20 to drinks. I thought it would suit me very well but was then entirely out of my budget. As is this house in Little Venice, with its lovely garden, view over Clifton Nurseries and perfectly proportioned rooms for gracious living. It is a grown-up house of some 3,500 sq ft and I’m not that grown-up yet. Fortunately I had a coup de foudre when I found my new flat this summer and the honeymoon endures. In my new refrain I am full of plans of how I will make it more mine and the gradual improvements that can be made.
The next morning I’m ruminating on this, the property tour I’m planning for new clients next week and simultaneously wondering how long I’ll be off British Military Fitness for. I finally relented to the entrenched sea urchin spikes that have been in my foot for some three weeks and visited the doctor who said I must be operated on the following day – on Saturday. Talks of septicaemia and gangrene have me take notice. GG appears with a smile on her face and a latte in hand and tells me she’s affianced. Joy. As if my new positive engagement with life were not enough I have this news to put a smile on my face for the foreseeable future.
More columns at www.ft.com/secretagent