Listen to David Oke narrate his story, via Soundcloud.

Essendon, January 1986

This cheesy American 1980s song, with an equally tacky film clip, provokes a memory bathed in anger, frustration and disappointment – my first experience of really distrusting a real estate agent.

We had found a fantastic townhouse unit to rent  in a very nice Essendon street late in 1985. After inspection we diligently completed the paperwork and submitted the appropriate documents that were to be forwarded to the owner for perusal and approval. We finished the transaction with a handshake, were told that things were good, and went about life believing that we were to move in when the residence was vacant in January. Both of us had full time work and a steady income.

We were so confident that we even passed out the address to some friends who sent Christmas cards there.

Our wedding was planned for May 1986 so it was timely that we finally found our first residence to commence married life. I had organized a truck to assist in moving in the furniture. Come time for collecting the new front door key the well-made plans unravelled in an instant.

I confidently entered the real estate agency and asked for the key .

“I’m sorry, it’s been let to someone else.”

“What do you mean – you’ve leased the unit to someone else!?”

Anger frustration disappointment and disbelief

I called Heather at her work and in no time she had made her way out west to confront this so and so rental manager. We sat in his office, both seething.  We had been hurt, misled and deliberately left out of the loop in relation to his change of plan. The rental manager had arranged to have a friend of his move in instead of us.

Who counts the money, underneath the bar
Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars
Don’t tell us you need us, ‘cause we’re just simple fools
Looking for America, coming through your schools.

 This Starship song tells about a music group’s distrust and disappointment of the ‘corporation’. They feel ripped off and feel treated like simple fools.  I guess, as tenants, we felt the same way about the way we had been treated.

Heather went back to work and I commenced the search for a different place to rent. Back at square one. It was very very hot that January. On high rotation, while driving around, was We Built This City. Again and again I heard that song. Again and again I couldn’t find the right place to live. More than thirty years later the song still irks me.

Knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight
Too many runaways, eating up the night

Eventually we found another townhouse unit, still in Essendon.  Two-bedrooms. Having been burnt the first time we asked lots of questions about the process of snaring and renting this new place. This different agent was sympathetic to our prior experience and reassured us that things should be fine. We got the place and happily resided there for two years.

I am glad that it was a two-bedroom unit. One room became a music room: space for a four-track tape recorder and all my instruments.

I’ve played a lot of  ‘80s cover songs in a lot of cover bands but I’ve never played this song. And never will.

David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.