“And this is the kitchen. Virtually untouched, only replaced in 2014, as part of the £1m renovations. As you know the owners of this property have spent much of their time overseas, so it’s in excellent condition, with all the mod cons.”

Sarah paused to let the woman behind her catch up, as they passed through the long hallway that led to the rear part of the building. Paintings hung on the light green walls, heavy white whorls of cornicing decorated the corners of the room, like elaborate frosting on a fairy cake. The door to the kitchen swung open easily, presumably to let the staff push it while carrying plates and dishes to and from the room. She held the door open. The woman did not even raise her head as she walked through the doorway, merely exhaling something that sounded like “Uh-huh” as she swished past.

“You’re welcome,” Sarah muttered in her head, but outwardly she smiled and said, “I think you’ll find it has everything any chef could possibly need.”

The woman was carrying a Blackberry, tapping away with a stylus as she walked. She stopped, raised her head, the glossy curtains of hair parting perfectly around her face as she glanced around the room. She pursed her lips, and very faintly wrinkled her nose. “A working kitchen, I see.”

Sarah glanced around the room, bemused. The room was rectangular, a huge range cooker taking up a good couple of metres on one side of the kitchen. Fitted cupboards in a kind of glittering purple colour were lit underneath with fluorescent lights which rotated in pink, then green then blue. The tiles on the floor were also shiny, and the work surfaces were some sort of solid stone. The island in the middle was almost big enough to be shipwrecked on. Transfixed by the disco-effect lighting Sarah felt like she had turned up early to the school dance and was now left waiting for the hot boys to show up, while she boogied alone.

She cleared her throat and consulted the notes in front of her on her iPad screen. “All of the appliances come with the kitchen, as standard, that includes the Smeg fridge and the Rangemaster oven, obviously.” She faltered as the woman slowly took her finger, and rubbed it along the top of the stainless steel fan fixture hanging above the hob. Then she touched the pad of her index finger and thumb together, and inspected them closely. Sarah could detect a faint sticky sheen of grease.

“This kitchen has been used.” It wasn’t a question, though it seemed to be directed at Sarah. It was more a declaration of fact.

“Well, yes,” Sarah felt a sudden overwhelming urge to giggle, slap her forehead and say “DURRR of course it has,” as though she had suddenly lost ten years of her life. “The owners have entertained here on several occasions, though as I mentioned they have not really lived in for more than a couple of consecutive weeks.”

“Well, it will have to go. We’ll have to rip it out and start again. My employers couldn’t think of cooking somewere that somebody else as soiled. It’s just not right that they should have to put up with something that isn’t…..” she paused, tapping the stylus against her teeth, “…..something that isn’t completely fresh, shall we say.”


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