Boom and gloom

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The Independent Online
Refreshed by my late summer break I am considering venturing once more into the property market. I do so in hope rather than expectation. My despondency has been inspired by the bulging mail bag awaiting me on my return from the Continent.

Normally my mail consists of bills, reminders to pay bills, final warnings to pay bills and excommunications. This is supplemented by the guarantees that "You, yes you, Mr Groffit have won a prize in our exclusive summer draw. Already you are a winner. A cheque, which could be for as much as pounds 1m, has already been made payable to Mr I Groffit and awaits your claim." Yes, and think how you'd get proper bacon sandwiches in France if pigs could fly.

What I do these days is to deposit such promises of great riches in the envelope provided by the author of the most threatening letter relating to non payment of bills. I attach a note suggesting they use my winnings to settle my account.

On my return to Blighty this time, however, the mailbag was more mixed. For every letter offering me hard cash there was a missive from an estate agent with an equally appealing message. "You, yes you, Householder or Home Owner" they began before explaining that the agent in question had only just this moment sold the housing stock of the entire nation. Thus the "Dear Householder or Home Owner" was offered the opportunity to participate in the property bonanza by allowing said estate agent to perform similar magic for "you, yes you".

This would be encouraging if I was a home owner or a master criminal prepared to defraud my generous landlady of her nest. But for a prospective home buyer the letters were bad news.

After their summer of great content, I had rather hoped that the estate agents would have taken a well-deserved late break. But instead they are sending out letters begging people to sell, and that means there is still not much around for the likes of me.

During the great property slump of the early Nineties it was rare to receive a letter from an agent saying "Dear home owner, the man at the soup kitchen has a friend in Dunbar who knows a man who knows a man who has heard of an estate agent who has just sold a house. If you would like to add your property to the hundreds of other houses which haven't a prayer of being sold, please feel free to do so."

No, the begging letters are a sign of a boom. In other words the authors are still, how shall I say, one three-bedroomed semi short of an estate agency.

I must not lose heart, however, for I sense a winter of discontent. With devolution becoming a reality, it won't be long before the Celtic hordes are compulsorily repatriated, creating a massive slump. I'll pick up a lovely house at a knock-down price and live happily ever after. I must close now as I have just seen a pig with "Normandy Non-Stop" on its back fly past my window clutching a loaf of white bread and a bottle of brown sauce.

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