John Sandilands


Know the Type

Date published: 1998
Publisher: The Guardian

For about a year, John contributed a weekly column to the Guardian about the well-known estate agents Pratt and Idiot.  Each one is a miniature masterpiece.  Here are two of them.

The Guardian ‘Space’: May 98

Know the type: Rime and reason

Oddly enough, Alastair, the numero uno negotiator at estate agent’s Pratt & Idiot, was about to slope off to a chum’s wedding when a senior seafaring citizen walked in. At least Alastair, sharp as ever, could tell he was some sort of mariner from the fact that he wore a peaked cap, a blue reefer jacket and had a large brass telescope tucked under one arm.

A couple of the other negotiators were free, if you don’t count filling in the “O’s” in Property News, and Alastair indicated them with his mobile. But the old boy steered straight towards him, fixed him with a glittering eye and laid a hand like a long-dead starfish on his Armani-style jacket sleeve.
“I am an ancient mariner,” he said, “and I have a house to sell. But give not up the day job yet - It is a house from Hell. Some years ago while still at sea I had problems with a bird,” (here Alastair thrice shook his head, ‘twas a tale he’d oft times heard).
“No, nothing like that” the seaman said, “I shot an albatross, a real bad move which, in property terms, can lead to grievous loss. Though house prices rise, my dwelling falls about my tortured ears. If something can go wrong it will and it’s been like that for years. An albatross that’s taken can give your very soul dry rot. Get your home address in that bird’s black books and well, basically, that’s your lot. I’ve water, water everywhere yet still the floorboards shrink. There’s fungus in the header tank, a blockage in the sink. The joists they creak, the rafters sag, the plaster all is blown. I have to sell, no longer can I manage on my own.” He knelt
and flung his arms around the negotiator’s knees: “Please rid me of this cursed place and put my poor soul at ease.”
The wedding guest tapped his fake Rolex watch and once more shook his head: “It isn’t one for us I fear. Try a house auction instead.”

Doctor in the house
The Guardian “Space” magazine 8 May 1998

Dr Hardcastle had a kindly expression but he was clearly a busy man as he arrived to view a property. “Don’t usually do house calls,” he explained as he bustled in. “Do you mind if I wash my hands before I have a poke around? Habit I’m afraid,” he smiled. “Right,” he said briskly as he emerged from the cloakroom, “I see from the estate agent’s notes that you’ve had some remedial work done. Nothing serious? Ah, just a little problem downstairs. Let’s have a look, shall we?” He winked: “Don’t worry, I’ve seen it all before…”

He gave the bottom of the house an examination: “Bit of underpinning I see. Notice there’s a truss on the brickwork. How old are we?” he glanced at his notes. “Ah, late Victorian. Anno Domini, eh? Gets to us all eventually.” He took the cellar steps two at a time. “Mind if I wash my hands again?” he enquired. “Always a good idea when you’ve been messing about down there.” This time he flushed: “Nothing wrong with the waterworks! See what’s going on upstairs shall we?”

He twinkled: “Lot of problems can be traced back to the bedroom, you know.” He was concerned about some creaking in the master bedroom’s floorboards. “Joists getting a bit arthritic,” he diagnosed. “Age again, probably, but I wouldn’t consider replacement yet. Now, if you’ll just slip those radiator covers off — I’ll turn my back if you prefer.”

His brow furrowed when he felt the radiators: “Mind if I have a little look at your boiler?” He listened with his stethoscope. “Does this thing smoke?” he asked.  He glanced at his watch. “Must get along, got a surgery to look at. But I’ll just take a sample of your plaster if I may. Run a few tests.” He’d reached the door of his Rover: “Absolutely nothing to worry about, but I take it you won’t mind if I got a second opinion?”


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List of John Sandilands articles

John Sandilands

John Sandilands Articles

  1. Obituary, March 2004 >>
  2. Introduction to Articles >>
  3. Article2 >>
  4. When the cure is sun, sea and mud >>
  5. Interview with Ava Gardner >>
  6. Interview with Dustin Hoffman, Los Angeles Times, 1968 >>
  7. Fiji >>
  8. Patrick Moore >>
  9. Mr Pastry >>
  10. Interview with Jane Fonda >>
  11. letters to and from John to editors >>
  12. Ballooning >>
  13. The Toad Cross Code >>
  14. Peter Sellers; that is the problem >>
  15. In bed with John Sandilands plus Jilly Cooper, Zandra Rhodes and Peter Cook >>
  16. Know the Type >>
  17. Animal poems >>
  18. The Toad Cross Code >>
  19. Albert and the Jaguars >>
  20. Herogram >>