Liz Jones: ‘In which the house hunt is on hold’

Gracie collapsed again. She had been to see the vet on Wednesday as she keeps gagging. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong, but prescribed antibiotics. On Thursday, she started gagging again, then keeled over on to her side. Her eyes were glassy, staring. The episode lasted only a few seconds, but we were both deeply shocked, shaken.

I called the vet again, who said the gagging means a change in blood pressure: the reason she faints. She’s reluctant to investigate further under anaesthetic, as Gracie is 13.

Tom Peake at Meiklejohn

I’ve been looking for somewhere to buy this week, but with Gracie not well and the weather so hot I had to cancel three viewings. She loves the car, and I have air con, but vendors never want you to take a dog inside the house. I’m thinking of hiring a toddler, taking it with me and making it scribble on the overpriced walls.

My dream property has come on the market. It’s a wreck, but remote, with stunning views of the Dales. It has land and a barn for the horses. It’s magical. Half the price of the house I bought in Swaledale, which I then had to sell due to a tsunami of losing half my income overnight because I did Celebrity Big Brother to pay my tax bill then got sacked for it, a stalker farmer living next door, and HMRC thinking that a trip I made to Paris to report on John Galliano’s trial was some sort of jaunt.

I went to view the wreck a couple of weeks ago with my friend Isobel. She’s so sweet and supportive. ‘You could do it up gradually,’ she said as I went pale at the thought of living with lino. ‘Not put in really expensive bathrooms and kitchen.’ I clung to a banister, which came away in my hands.

I feel like a balloon in the wind, with no anchor, no security. No pension. My mortgage offer stipulates I must work until I’m 80. I feel I should head up an NHS Trust or a police force, fail badly and then get a huge payoff. I remember asking Belinda Earl, the fashion maven at M&S, what she would do when she left, and she said she would join the board of some company or other. How do people do that? I’m like Marie Helvin, who said the other week she’s thinking of getting a job in Whole Foods. Only far less attractive, obviously.

Now, with Gracie unwell, everything is on hold. I don’t think moving will suit her. When I was evicted from my mini mansion, Sam, my first collie, was still alive, but almost deaf and blind, and very confused. In the mansion, he knew where everything was. He couldn’t manage the stone steps to the basement kitchen but, instead of moaning and demanding carpet, as David did when he slipped in socks and broke his ribs, Sam would wait at the top of the stairs for his meals, paddling on his paws. He knew his way around the garden.

When I was forced to move into a rented house*, Sam couldn’t cope with the ceramic floor in the kitchen. On the first night, he slipped and lay prone in a pool of wee. In a panic, I popped Gracie and Mini in the garden while I tried to mop it up, terrified as all renters are about ruining someone else’s house. (‘Don’t sit on the sofa in jeans! They wear it out!’) There was a furious banging on my door. ‘Your dogs are barking!’

‘It’s their first night! I have a confused elderly dog!’

Within two days, Sam was dead. He couldn’t cope with change. I can’t either.

*It’s now up for sale. The blurb fails to state, ‘You must put your car in the awkward garage, not leave it out while you unload. Dogs must be on a lead in the communal parkland. No ball games. The A1 is in earshot.’

Jones Moans…

What Liz Loathes This Week

  • Estate agents who say, when you’ve driven three hours for a viewing, ‘You only have three minutes’ and, ‘When was it built? No idea.’ Selling Sunset it’s not.
  • Having to pay in advance for spa treatments. If she misses a whisker there’s no recourse!
  • The woman in Boots who asks without fail, robot fashion, ‘Do you have a reward card?’ For the umpteenth time, no!
  • Tourists.

Read more from Liz Jones here