Property: The foolproof mobile home

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The Independent Online
I SPENT All Fools Day in the United States of America. This is not a great place to be on a day which is characterised by japes, jokes and all other manner of frivolity. The problem in the USA is that life is one permanent April Fool to the uneducated eyes of a Limey like myself. As I perused the newspapers I chuckled aloud at the never-ending series of hoax stories which littered the pages. It was only when I relayed this merriment to my American colleague and cousins that I realised the error of my ways. The stories were all true.

"Did you see that story about the hotel gymnasium which is selling pre- sweated sweat shirts?" I giggled.

Some context is required here. In senior US executive circles a soggy sweatshirt in the morning is a badge of honour. The commitment to physical fitness is a clear sign that you are a highly successful business person. Indeed early morning exercise is the only break that US high-flyers take from their hectic schedule.

My earlier question was addressed to an appropriately sweaty US executive. While I nursed a hangover, spluttered through a cigarette and called for caffeine and bacon rolls my colleague nibbled gingerly on a slice of melon and perspired elegantly.

"How much?" he replied.

"How much for what?"

"The sweated sweats. How much did they charge? I normally pay around ten bucks."

"But surely this is a joke," I protested.

"It's not cheap, you're right. But what the heck."

With that he skipped gracefully off to his room leaving me baffled and wondering whether the story I had read about the property market was actually true.

The newspaper report was along the lines that because of the changing weather patterns Americans were now buying portable holiday homes which they could take wherever the climate was most suitable for their needs.

I was actually in Florida which has been a traditional haven for those who need to escape the harsh winters of the North-east. However, this year the weather has been better in New York than it has in Palm Beach - and without the threat of tornados. April, don't forget, is the worst month for tornados, claiming more lives than the rest of the year combined. Not only is there a risk for the Florida evacuees that the weather is better back home but also that they and their home might be whisked away by a whirlwind.

In response to this an enterprising firm has developed the portable home. Bearing in mind that the elite sneer upon the camper homes favoured by the masses, the PortaHome is designed to preserve the exclusivity of a fixed house while affording a high degree of flexibility. The home is easy to assemble and conveniently collapses into a small trailer. What the wealthy evacuees now do is buy plots of land around the US and take their PortaHome with them to the location with the best weather. When it gets windy in Palm Beach you just hop on the inter state and head for San Diego.

According to the report, the PortaHome is not only flexible but also adds a high degree of security for those who are accustomed to regular burglaries at their holiday property.

It sounds daft to me but then I think that heaping strawberries on a plate of bacon and fried eggs over medium is equally bizarre.

I am wondering whether I should inquire further. The PortaHome would certainly ease my property woes. But what if it was that rarity - a genuine hoax?