I'm not on the Property Ladder. I'm not even on the Property Pavement on which the Property Ladder sits. Back in March, I "celebrated" my 15th year of living in London and, due to the preposterous amounts of cash money one needs to get one's hands on a title deed in this city, for a decade and a half, I have had no option but to pay rent to a procession of gimlet-eyed landlords and landladies, with nothing to show for it but a succession of past addresses strewn across the capital.
Having gotten married, though, I came to the realisation that the time was right (being that 50 per cent of a house is cheaper than all of it). My wife had seen an advert for one of the country's biggest high-street building society/banks that offers a 95 per cent mortgage if you save with them for a few years, so last Saturday morning we went without our usual breakfast-in-bed-while-watching-old-episodes-of-Frasier and made for our local branch.
There was a half-hour maximum on parking on the street, so the chances of us finishing our meeting and getting the hell out before John Q. Traffic-warden showed up were pretty slim.
Inside the branch, we spoke to the woman standing behind a little "meet and greet" lectern at the front door and she told us that one of her colleagues – let's call her Tracy-Louise – would see us in five minutes. We took a seat opposite a door bearing that very name and then, given the fashion for glass-walled offices, spent the next few minutes watching Tracy-Louise prepare for our meeting by updating her Facebook page. She appeared to be about 14 years old. We cast anxious glances at each other and then back at the adolescent who was about to facilitate the biggest financial transaction of our lives. Thankfully, she had by this time exited from Facebook, but was now playing Angry Birds on her phone.
Eventually, her door opened and her young face appeared. She appeared to be chewing something. "Awright?" she said. "You wanna come froo?"
I would like to tell you that we sprinted for the exit, but times is hard and 95 per cent mortgages are, well, a little thin on the ground, so we had to suck it up, ignore her Justin Bieber screensaver and sign over our salaries to her for the next 12,000 years. The upside? She said that she'll friend us on Facebook. Oh good …