A Yank Searches for a House in 'Brum - 7

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My Irish Husband Tony and I moved to Birmingham in September of 2004. This past year we finally decided it was time to quit paying rent. This is a chronicle of our journey through the world of UK property buying.

Week Seven: Yet Another Week

It was a quiet week in Sutton Coldfield. Mark papers, take a break. Mark papers, take a break. Classes started again, so teach a class, mark last term's papers, take a break.

Then I got the call from the BBC. Really! To be on my favorite program, Question Time. Well, in the audience. But what the hey! I said yes.

All day I marked papers, and then I crawled through the snow down our path, through the snow down our cul-de-sac, through the snow down the hill, to meet the taxi. Which didn't show. And because I was already halfway to the bus stop by then, I cancelled the taxi and took the bus to city centre. And then a taxi. To the bus-station part of town. To be on Question Time.

On my fantasy list this year was 'to be a panellist on Question Time', so this was close. I sure hope this is worth it, I thought, as I crawled on the icy path where the taxi driver had let me out, knee-threatening blocks from the venue.

Finally, inside. Warm and dry. Searched by security, get a cup of bad tea, hope to chat with someone from Sutton Coldfield so I can get a lift home. Mill around with the crowd. Strain to get a glimpse of Dimbleby.

'I didn't know they let Americans in here!'

I know this guy. I know this face. Who is he? He's white and British. They all are...

'How are things going on your house-buying?'

Oh my God — we're buying a house. I'd forgotten. It's Peter the Mortgage Guy! He's a fan of Question Time too.

I update him: We got the Home Buyer's Report from the surveyor. We called our solicitor. We called the agent, who had already called our solicitor, who told her she can't do anything because she hasn't heard from the seller's solicitor. So the agent said she'd call the seller's solicitor again.

Peter and I sat together through Question Time, watching David Dimbleby and the panel — this week a Lib Dem MP, our local Muslim councillor, a Tory former Home Minister, a right-wing novelist and this week's sacrificial lamb from the Labour Party — answer questions from the audience. And neither Peter nor I got to ask a question. (Tip: When you sit in the middle of the audience, you are nowhere near any of the cameras, so only your loving husband will be able to pick you out of the crowd.)

Then Peter the Mortgage Guy drove me to the taxi rank, and the taxi took me to Sutton Coldfield. My husband Tony met me at the bottom of the hill so we could walk through the snow up the hill, up our cul-de-sac, up our path, to watch the previously recorded Question Time.

And then another six inches of snow fell on Birmingham and everything stopped.

Fingers crossed.

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