The Gazumper’s Ambush

With an unseemly eviction looming, my family is looking to me to provide shelter. Poor fools. They should know better.

And so it was that Sunday found us in the Vauxhall flying low beneath the radar of the real estate mercenaries.

Clive was nagging me to buy a house in Blouberg or Milnerton and I was forced to bark harshly at him in Afrikaans. “There,” I said. “That’s what it would be like to live in the northern suburbs.” The boy immediately curled up like a pangolin and set about the most awful whimpering.

Brenda wanted to look at houses in Noordhoek. For some reason she thinks that the folk out there are better than the rest of us.

I pointed out that there is just as much incest and fratricide in Noordhoek as anywhere else on the peninsula. And what about all those horses? They’re not just for show, you know.

I have heard that strange and terrible things go on behind closed doors when the sun sets on that side of the pass.

I was more interested in moving to one of those quaint urban hamlets that line the N2.

Brenda, racist that she is, tried to ruin my dream by going on and on about the area being particularly attractive to the raping and murdering component of the electorate.

I smiled smugly and told her that you can get a beer for under R5 in one of those suburbs. That shut her up.

Clive muttered something about the impracticalities of drinking with a slit throat and I was forced to slow down to 160km/h so that I could smack the insolent young cub around the ear.

At one point we came upon tens of thousands of people all walking in the same direction. Nobody but religious fundamentalists would be out in these numbers on a Sunday morning, and I instinctively began hurling abuse through my open window.

But while it was fun for a while, it wasn’t bringing us any closer to finding somewhere to live at the end of the month.

Eventually we ended up in Harbour Heights on the wild side of Hout Bay. Brenda rolled up her window and locked the door.

A man with the eyes of a dead snoek stumbled into the road and bounced off the car while a child with matted dreadlocks waved a nine-inch bait knife at Clive and seven dogs of no discernible breed began gnawing on the tyres. This is it, I said. Home. The poor man’s Clifton.

I stopped and called out to a man who was displaying severe Klipdrift and quota withdrawal symptoms. He began ranting incoherently about rock lobster and then tried to sell me a used perlemoen. I wasn’t interested.

All I wanted to know was if there were other white people in the area. “I am a white people,” he said. I told him he was sorely mistaken and drove on.

At one point we must have crossed some kind of invisible class boundary because we found ourselves surrounded by triple-storey mansions and fine pieces of land.

Let’s build our own house,” I shouted, bounding from the car to check our new plot. I found a real estate agent cowering beneath the fynbos and offered her the full asking price.

She hummed and hawed so much that I began to think she was one of those mythical singing prostitute-agents I had heard so much about.

I was on the verge of putting in a cheeky offer but saw that Brenda was watching so I whipped out my cheque book instead.

The agent was having none of it. The owner of the land – her client – was untraceable at this moment in time and was therefore not in a position to accept my offer.

But it’s not an offer,” I said. “It’s the full asking price and I’ve got the money and you’ve got the land so hand it over.” Backing nervously into the fynbos, the agent said she would try to reach the owner in the next day. Or two.

I began remonstrating with her, writing cheque after cheque and trying to stuff them down her blouse.

Brenda and Clive grabbed me around the waist and pulled me off. The blouse came away in my hand and a passing gentleman with a fresh knife wound in his forehead roared his approval.

Brenda wrestled me into the car and explained that the agent was trying to gazump me. Clive sniggered.

I quickly denied everything and told the dirty-minded cow that she must have got the wrong impression. No woman who has ever wanted to gazump me has behaved in such an appalling fashion.

Then the horrible truth came out. Gazumping is what happens when the seller plays for time in the hope that someone else will come along and put in a better offer.

It is a tradition rooted in naked greed which, like foul weather and complaining, appears to have originated in Britain.

Somewhere out there, someone is planning to gazump me. And I will be ready for them.

Watch out for the double reverse gazump with a half-twist and dash of lime.

                                                              October 14 2003


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