Monday, 13 May 2013

Bits and Pieces 2

Sometimes I think that we’ve stopped evolving as a human race. If you need evidence, simply read the instructions on the back of almost anything you buy. I bought a packet of peanuts the other day, and just reading the packaging made me despair for humanity.

First, it was the big bold letters that said "Warning, may contain traces of nuts," – well duh, but it was the second line that really pushed me over the edge. It simply read, "Instructions: open packet, eat nuts." Whew, lucky they put that there!

But, I’m sure it’s not just nuts that have gone nuts. I bought a glass biscuit jar the other day that came with instructions. Take a moment to think about that. Instructions? I’m sorry, but if you need instructions to open a jar, I don’t think you can be trusted with glass. Are there really people who look at jars with lids and think "But how do I get the bickies in there? Damn, I wish this thing came with instructions."

I know, I know, I should get out more, but my friend and I went instruction hunting the other day. A few of the better ones – In the bathroom, we found a packet of sleeping pills. The packet told us "Warning. This medication may cause drowsiness." Oh, really? There is a sign on the airport bus that reads "Do not access bus through window"! Okey dokey, just who is that sign for?

I know that there are some simple people out there, but I read the other day that in the past 10 years, 31 Aussies have died while watering the Christmas tree while the lights were still plugged in. Now I don’t want to sound callous but, to me, that’s not really a tragedy – that’s natural selection.

You see, from what I can vaguely recall from science lessons at school (when we weren’t sitting up the back trying to turn various household items into bongs), there was this bloke called Charles Darwin who came up with the theory of evolution. In basic terms, it was a matter of Survival of the Fittest. In every generation, the strongest and the most intelligent would survive, they would breed together and we would evolve. Well, no more. We have stopped evolving as a human race.

Don’t believe me? We live in a time where George W Bush was the leader of the free world. This is a man Forrest Gump would have teased at school.

So why do I think that we’ve stopped evolving? Simple – all these warnings are keeping the morons alive. So I have just three words for you: Let. Them. Go.

They say that buying your own house is The Great Australian Dream – but I would guess that it’s probably not true if you are a man.

Come on, let’s be honest here. If you are a bloke, the Great Australian Dream is probably scoring 100 on debut against the Poms in the first Ashes test of a series, or playing for Manchester United and scoring a hat trick of goals in your debut against Chelsea, and then celebrating in a spa with Angelina Jolie.

For a woman – totally different!

So, I have been thinking about buying another house, and it looks like it’s going to have to be up north in Queensland. Now before I go on, I should point out that I can’t really afford another house. To be perfectly honest, I can barely afford to order the DVD box set of the TV series ‘House’ from Amazon.

But I thought I may as well scan the real estate section of the paper anyway, and after visiting a few places I’ve come to the conclusion that real estate agents are the only people that our Prime Minister could look at and say "Wow, you’re a liar!" Is it just me, or do the descriptions in the ads have absolutely no correlation at all with what the place is really like?

It’s as if the real estate agents sit around in an office all day saying: ‘This place has a leaking tap, should we fix that?’ ‘Nah, bugger it, put in the ad it has "water views".’ And certainly don’t take any notice of the number of bedrooms they list, because in the world of real estate ads any room you could possibly squeeze a bed into seems to count. ‘Ok, I guess technically this could be a bedroom, but I think the flushing toilet would wake me up, and the constant dripping of the water views is really annoying.’

Another real estate speak classic is ‘charming’. I mean, how can a house be charming? Does it always open a door for you, and present you with a martini when you walk inside?

Same goes for ‘generous living room’, which makes it sound like every time you go in there the couch will give you a back massage and the TV will have taped all your favourite shows for you.

‘Sparkling floorboards’ may sound great, but what it really means is ‘we had to rip up the carpet to get the bloodstains out after the series of murders’.

While ‘excellent views’ means if you happen to be on the roof, on a ladder, you might get a view of the water, more importantly you will get a view of the neighbour’s daughter sunbathing.

‘Close to shops’ means the bloke next door sells stolen goods out of the boot of his car.

‘Quaint’ is basically a nice way of saying ‘old and just a tad creepy’. Think the sort of house an old lady might have lived in with her fifty doilies and sixty cats.

‘Sunny’ means there’s a hole in the roof; and ‘modern’ seems to mean any place that doesn’t have cave paintings on the wall and dinosaurs in the backyard.

And then there’s ‘cosy’. Put it this way, if you thought the place we called ‘spacious’ was tiny, then you ain’t seen nothing yet! This place is so small, if you move in, the rats will have to move out because there isn’t room for both of you.

‘Well maintained’ is basically code for ‘we racked our brains, but we couldn’t think of anything else to recommend this property’. Basically it’s crap, but on the upside, it’s still maintained in its original state of crap.

‘Great neighbourhood’ means that the place you are going to buy would fall down if a wolf blew on it but all your neighbours have really excellent pads, while ‘family neighbourhood’ may sound nice but what it really means is there is lots of screaming kids and barking dogs to wake you up early on the weekend.

And don’t even get me started on ‘perfect for you’. How do they know what is perfect for me? What, does Steven Gerrard already live there?

But without a doubt, my favourite piece of real estate doublespeak is ‘renovator’s dream’. Have you ever been set up on a blind date and your friends tell you the person ‘has a wonderful personality’? Yep, basically they call it a ‘renovator’s dream’ because if they called it a ‘money pit’ a ‘relationship ender’ or a ‘place even squatters wouldn’t squat’, not a lot of people would answer the ad.

Of course, even if you do manage to negotiate your way through the ads, the hard work isn’t done. You still have to look through the contract, where they hide the really bad stuff:

‘Now before you sign, have you seen that movie ‘The Amityville Horror’? No...oh well, don’t worry then ... Oh, and did we mention a train runs through your living room every second Tuesday?’ Actually, that’s a bad example. If that happened those sneaky bastards would advertise it as being ‘close to public transport’.

Let’s just imagine that somehow you do manage to find a house that you want to buy. Big call, I know. But you’ve got to dream. I mean, maybe it really us as simple as attending a house sale and making the best offer.

The first problem is money. The song says ‘wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’ but I’m here to tell you that won’t hold up in court. They call it ‘illegal trespass, squatting and criminal nuisance’.

Basically, I have examined my finances, i.e. gathered all the loose change I can from down the back of the sofa, but it turns out I can’t afford to buy anywhere I want to live, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere I can afford to buy. According to my accountant, I have enough saved to possibly get a time share in a couple of cardboard boxes in New Zealand. Everyone says when it comes to real estate, buy the worst house on the best street, which is great advice, but I can only afford the worst house in an area where even the people on the worst street would drive through with their windows up.

So not only am I scanning the papers for something I can afford, but if I find something that looks promising, I don’t want anyone else to see it and get there before me. I feel like visiting all the real estate agents with some scissors and a huge jar of liquid paper.

Either that, or on open house day, just getting all your unemployed mates to stand out the front and pretend to sell people heroin to keep the price down.

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