“We’re putting our house on the market,” husband announces cheerfully to the children as we sit down for a relaxed family meal at the kitchen table.
“But there isn’t a market in our town”, says middle son.
“Can we go to one in London?” says daughter. “My friend says there’s some really good ones there where you can get great clothes…”
“I want to go to London”, interrupts toddler. “On a train. I want to go NOW…”
“The house”, repeats husband firmly, above the toddler. “We’re going to sell the house and buy a new one. Hopefully with a bigger garden.”
“How about putting it on e-bay?” jokes teenager, who has recently been trying to sell unwanted loft junk on the site to earn some extra pocket money.
“No, we’re using an estate agent,” says husband, slightly impatiently. “And they might put a ‘For Sale’ sign up in our front garden. We’ll probably have people come and look around the house, so it’s very important that from now on you all keep your bedrooms and toys tidy.”
“I don’t want to sell my K’nex rollercoaster”, complains middle boy. “It’s mine. I got it for my birthday.”
“You don’t have to sell your toys,” says husband, starting to wish he’d never mentioned our plans in the first place. “If we move house you can take them with you. We’ll have a removal lorry and we can take everything that belongs to us in that.”
“But what about the conservatory”, asks middle son. You can’t fit the conservatory on a lorry.”
“I want to go to London on a train, NOT a lorry”, wails toddler.
“What if someone likes our house and decides to buy it, but we don’t like theirs? Will they force us to live there even though we don’t want to?” continues middle son, becoming more and more perturbed.
“We’re not swopping houses with anyone. Someone buys our house and we buy a different person’s house. And they buy someone else’s house. It’s called a chain,” explains husband, trying his hardest to remain calm.
“Not a chain. A TRAIN”, toddler screams, knocking over his drink as he bangs his fists on the table. “I SAID I WANT TO GO TO LONDON ON A TRAIN!”
“Do we really need to move?” sighs teenager, as everyone jumps up from the table to avoid getting squash all over their lap. “I like our house and you’ve just painted my bedroom at long last.”
“D’you know what?”says husband glumly, as he searches for a floorcloth to mop up the pool of squash. “I’m starting to ask myself the very same question…”