Yesterday, after completing a minor household task, I managed to create a monstrous black stain on the bedroom carpet. I am no stranger to incidents such as this: invariably, the fulfilment of duty spawns a plethora of resultant issues which, in themselves, take as long (if not longer) to address as the initial assignment. Some American bloke on YouTube made out that it would be a breeze to shift, so armed with a can of WD40 and a can-do attitude, I set about re-absorbing the thick treacle into an old pair of socks. To begin with, everything went swimmingly: the socks gobbled up the stuff, and I could just make out, mirage-like, faint traces of the biscuit-coloured original peeking through. But then I got bored and went off to make a sandwich.
When I returned, it was to a scene of unimaginable horror. Emboldened by my absence, the stain had swollen to approximately ten times its original size, with concentric dark rings of ever-increasing viscosity working their way towards its demonic nucleus. The ribbed nature of the Axminster, combined with the brutal raking light of summer, lent the whole terrible scene the illusion of depth, as if an Ordinance Survey map had been 3D-printed onto the floor by David Cronenberg. And then, as the sun subtly snaked across the sky, the nipple (sic) began to move. This was too much: crashing down the stairs and onto Facebook, I begged my virtual pals for assistance but was met with barely-concealed hilarity and erroneous advice. “You don’t understand,” I pleaded, “this is no laughing matter. I’m trying to sell the flat and there’s an enormous breathing nipple in the bedroom. Who’s going to want that?”
After being directed to a couple of (let’s be honest) wildly inappropriate websites, it dawned on me that I’d have to solve this one alone. That I would have to become that cute, swotty chick at the end of a teen slasher movie, single-handedly dispatching the killer after all her chums had been seen off (and then, sensibly, going for a lie-down in a boat on a lake). I made my way back up the stairs and opened the door. The nipple appeared to be dormant, pulsating gently in the afternoon haze. Things had clearly gone beyond a simple Shake n’Vac solution but I had to think of something. And quickly.
So I rang Foxtons. I dropped the bait of a well-presented Edwardian flat, pregnant with original features and within walking distance of the shops and amenities of our vibrant, artistic community. Next, I mentioned one particular feature unique to the property; indeed, perhaps to anywhere in the world. I could hear them frothing down the phone, drunk with the lure of imminent commission, and immediately set up a site visit. Then I found another can of WD40 and rolled up my sleeves: I had work to do.