Property: A game of no chance

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The Independent Online
So far, we as a nation have only missed 355 of the available shopping days to Christmas. So there is still time to track down the elusive gifts that will brighten up that special person's Christmas morning.

Forgive me for a moment of self-indulgence, but rather than burden you with a variety of gift ideas I feel it is more appropriate to set out my personalised list of presents for the househunter.

Topping that list by a long way is the new virtual home- owner CD-Rom. This is compatible with Windows 95, Doors 96 and Roof Tiles 97.

The CD-Rom allows the frustrated person of property to create their own abode from the comfort of somebody else's living room. For those of us who have forgotten what it was like, or who have never tasted the joys of home ownership, this little piece of software is perfect.

All the pleasures and pitfalls of owning a house are delivered in glorious sound and vision to your very own computer. Although the standard package is entirely acceptable, I also recommend the special builders abuse programme.

This allows you to taste at first hand that special feeling which only comes from commissioning a loft conversion.

All you have to do is feed a trouserful of used tenners into the PC. At this point it breaks down, makes a mess all over the floor and then does nothing for six months. Brilliant.

For the less technically minded I can recommend Monopoly - the house buyer's special edition. In this version of the popular board game all the streets are already sold, the utilities are for sale but subject to a windfall tax, and the railway stations are closed due to staff shortages.

Elsewhere, I suggest the Yamagotcha developed jointly by the Japanese banking system and Argentinian Navy. It is, in essence, the electronic equivalent of a pet estate agent. If you do not look after it and treat it well, it turns into an entire chain of Yamagotchas which spend the rest of their life trying to sell you time-share apartments in Tenerife.

Other trinkets on offer include a video based on that well-known TV show Have I Got Mews For You and a board game entitled Blind Estate.

My favourite, however, is that great game Clueless. Out go Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett and their cronies. There is no lead piping and no library. Instead, all the characters are estate agents since they are the ones who always make a killing.

The winner is the person who can identify the most outrageous transaction. For example, Henrietta Halfwit in the brightly refurbished, well appointed apartments with the couple from Clapham.

I would be delighted to receive any one of the above gifts. And I would also be delighted to receive the winning ticket in next week's Lottery or a small bungalow in Swanage.

Remember: when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. And there are only 375 shopping days to next Christmas.