The estate agents

The estate agent is apparently honest, very polite and utterly upbeat. "Oh," he says, surveying the dilapidated property we stand in. "This is
all fine, sir. Don't need to do anything really. You could leave it as it is and still get [he names a figure amounting to several thousand pounds less than I need] either way."

He moves on through the house. I notice he is still wearing his shoes - unfeasibly long and pointy, in a style that suggests the influence of the high Middle Ages - and is now standing on the rug where the baby often attempts to crawl.

I suppress my rage.

“Ha," he says, and points out of the back window. "Garden!"

I follow his gaze, and confirm his observation. "'Yes, garden. Not much, though."

“No, no - that's plenty really. Just the right amount." He continues on through the house. As he does so, he acknowledges more doors and windows with fresh surprise.

Everything, it seems, is absolutely fine. Even the bathroom, with the mouldy tiles and a small mound of plaster dust below the loose toilet roll holder I angrily drilled into the wall after an afternoon drinking out-of-date organic cider. "I was going to tidy it up," I offer. "Some filler." "Oh," he chirrups. "No need for that."

So everything is good news? Not quite. "I'll be honest," he says. "Prices are going to tank next year. You're probably wise to be looking to sell before Christmas. Not now, of course. Everyone's on holiday." Even this observation appears to delight him, and he chortles merrily. There are 48,000 people working for estate agents in the UK; can they all be this happy?

Apparently, yes. The second estate agent arrives the next day. He is ecstatic and has a remarkable haircut - a Huron tuft surrounded by lesser peaks worked up with axle grease. He smiles so expansively, his mouth threatens to fall off his face. He is very, very pleased to meet me.
“Michael? It's great to meet you. Just great."

“Could you take your shoes off?"

“Of course. That's great. Just great." He comes in. "Great," he says, as he looks at the peeling walls and the shabby floorboards, "really great."

He says this to every wall and floorboard in the house before quoting a figure not unrelated to the one I heard the previous day and then leaves.
Watching him virtually skip as he walks away, I finally realise why he and the other estate agent are so happy. Not long ago estate agents were spurned and reviled, society's outcasts, on a par with bankers. But, following the election, that has changed. The worst sort of violent offenders aside - and not even all of them - the social esteem of almost every Briton has moved up a notch since May. Yes, these men are still estate agents, but they are not Liberal Democrats.

Michael Hodges writes the Class Monitor column for the New Statesman. He was named columnist of the year at the 2008 Magazine Design and Journalism Awards for his contributions to Time Out.

This article first appeared in the 23 August 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan