Thursday 30 December 2021

Basil Fawlty is in Cape Town

What you see is anything you get

We had such an abundance of choices about where to spend the rest of our time in Cape Town, that the decision took days. The fact that some advertisers on do not bother to update information about their properties and most especially the pictures leave one wondering what is available and what is not.

For instance, where we are staying now, the information about the property said there was no lift in the building and that there was only a shower in the apartment. Well, there was a lift, and it was not recently installed and how do you miss a bathtub in a bathroom?

Who we saw was something to see

The new place we booked for an overlapping day for checking in and checking out said there was only Wi-Fi in the public places apart from the fact that the pictures depicted a different place from the address that I had to visit the property manager to confirm the situation. One of the pictures had an old-style cathode ray tube television when the detail suggested a flat-screen television. You do wonder what these property agents get paid for.

Taking Brian with me to collect the keys, there was no way I could have returned to tell him of my experience with the agent and he would have believed me. The agent, a rather unkempt man well into his sixties, if not seventies who should have retired probably a decade ago attended to us, and I use attended quite loosely.

What we saw was nothing we’d seen

He was as disorganised as to have that be a credit to his managerial prowess, I sat watching as he attempted to get many things done and successfully half-complete anything, even as he fielded telephone calls, gave instructions, confirmed bookings and we were to pay a breakage deposit and collect the keys to the apartment.

It so happened that he also had to show us into the apartment, moving supermarket trolleys around his jumbled office, grabbed linen and other essentials before giving us a ride in his car to the apartment. We could have been riding shotgun with a twisting roller-coaster for the road when a call came in.

How he drove was daringly crazy

He unbuckled his seatbelt to get the phone that he put in his ear with the left hand in a right-hand drive vehicle when we began to veer off the road. So, whilst holding on to the phone conversing, he took his right hand off the steering wheel to shift the manual gear across his body to the left, we prayed and it was close to our destination as we silently promised ourselves never to be a car where he was driver, ever again.

The man who has probably been in property management for decades has a good idea of what he should be doing, but there is no doubt that he needs not just help, but a professional air of competence that belies his business, for my patience was tested and my mettle experienced a dip in tolerance. If Brian were not there, I cannot tell of what I would have done.

Who he was, was someone we knew

When he told me his name a few days ago, I thought I heard the English name Basil which left me concerned about having encountered the South African version of Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers. And though his name does end up in the English version, if so addressed, we could never have met up with a better version of the hotelier as a property manager. The less said the better. It was an ordeal and a half, that I was not all shook up leaves me rather staggered.

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