Property: Meanwhile, back at the old stamping ground...

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the great social events in the snug bar at the Fount of All Knowledge is the annual Post-Budget Analysis and Tax Evasion evening. The evening starts around lunch time when in true Parliamentary style the regulars arrive early in order to secure a good seat. Everyone dresses outrageously and everyone selects their favourite Budget tipple which will see them through the afternoon.

It is customary to place bets on who the Budget will be for. All Budgets are for something as in "This is a Budget for jobs, growth, stability, Britain, etc etc..."

This year Pedro wagered it would be a Budget for Ruritania. His girlfriend, Grumpy Spice, suggested it would be a Budget for Buddy Holly. More soberly I bet it would be a Budget for those who wanted to buy a house but were struggling to find anywhere to live.

As it transpired it was a Budget for those with nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon than sit around listening to a sartorially challenged Scotsman droning on in a way which made a mug of Mogadon-laced Horlicks look like Ecstasy.

Worry not. The Budget was not for the regulars at the snug. The moment the Chancellor got to his feet we cried "Order Order", waited until the work-experience type bar person had fallen for our little jape then immediately switched over to the racing at Cheltenham. It was a wonderful moment. Under the last bloke with the battered briefcase the historical Budget clash with Cheltenham had been removed and we in the snug had to make do with watching Teletubbies or Cooking with Colin as our alternative viewing. Last week, at last, the lottery on legs was back.

By the time the Chancellor sat down we had duly completed our crash-diet approach to horse racing and had all lost a few pounds. Now it was time to put them back on with some serious tax evasion by drinking to excess at pre-Budget prices.

It was only at 7.30 when Roundpeg, our Square Mile squatter, arrived with his Budget Analysis that we realised what a bad day it had been. We had avoided far less tax than we had imagined and in some cases had actually swelled the Treasury coffers. More worryingly, it transpired that this was not a Budget for those who wanted to buy a house but were struggling to find anywhere to live. When Roundpeg gloomily revealed that stamp duty on properties costing over pounds 500,000 had been increased again to 3 per cent I broke down.

"I am ruined, my property ambitions are shattered, " I wept.

"But you cannot afford pounds 500,000," Pedro pointed out.

"It's not the pounds 500,000 it's the pounds 15,000 which is beyond me," I said.

"How much can you afford?"

"About pounds 13,000," I replied.

"Well get a mortgage."

"That is the mortgage."

"Never mind," Pedro comforted. "Perhaps you'll have better luck with the lottery on legs."

"That'll be the day," I cried.

"So it was a budget for Buddy Holly," squealed Grumpy Spice.

It was time for some serious tax evasion.

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