Property: A brick too far

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The Independent Online
My new political organisation representing would-be home owners, The House Party, launched last week, has got off to a cracking start. Were it not for a mysterious, but thankfully rare, fire in the post room I would, I am reliably informed, have had a mailbag bulging with details of prospective candidates.

I must report, sadly, a grave misjudgement on my part. I had assumed that it would be no problem to secure the easy-terms, no-nonsense finance to fund the deposits for our target constituency. Unfortunately the global banking system is not yet ready for a new force in politics. President Jiang Zemin may be deemed to be good for a couple of billion dollars over in China but sadly the House Party does not have the same clout at home.

At pounds 1,000 a pop, deposits do not come cheap. I have therefore decided to set up a new financing scheme which is guaranteed not only to raise funds but also to bring prosperity to the nation.

Yes, today I proudly launch the first housing pyramid scheme. Based on the Albanian model, but in strict compliance with new DTI guidelines, it will not only bring wealth to the masses, it will also alleviate the acute housing shortage which afflicts this country.

To best illustrate this scheme, here is the letter that will be winging its way through letter boxes up and down the country:

"Dear friend,

You have been selected to take advantage of a unique opportunity to provide not only financial security for you and yours, but also ease the housing shortage in this country.

At the bottom of this letter you will find a list of names. You must now send six ordinary house bricks to the names which appear on the list.

Once you have done this you must send a copy of this letter to a further dozen friends of yours. However, before you do so, please delete the name which appears at the top of the list at the bottom of this letter and insert your own name at the bottom of the list.

Do this immediately. If you comply with these instructions, in two weeks time you will receive enough bricks to build a four-bedroom, two-bathroom detached house."

I believe this to be an ingenious and honest scheme which will be welcomed by the people. I know that pyramid schemes have fallen into disrepute. But imagine if the Albanian system had relied upon bricks rather than hard cash. Rather than hurling them at the police, your average Albanian would still be cramming the bricks into a padded envelope and sending them to the person at the top of the list.

A word of warning, however. The text of the letter should be copied precisely to avoid confusion in the mind of the recipient. My first effort was clearly just a little too obscure. Within days of cramming my first draft through my neighbours' doors, I met with a worrying response. For some reason they all chose to append my letter to a brick and hurl it through my kitchen window. I tried to explain that while the brick comes to me, the letter must go to new people, but surprisingly they appeared to have lost interest in the scheme.

The good news is that I have enough bricks to make a small outside barbeque which, like twenty estate agents at the bottom of the ocean, can only be regarded as a good start. The bad news is that for the time being the bricks are playing the part of the kitchen window.

If that is the price of progress then I am prepared to pay it.

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