Property: Buddy, can you spare a brick?

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The Independent Online
SITTING quietly nursing a pint of comprehension lager (as in now I know why I fell over) I was disturbed by a great excitement among the regulars at the Snug Bar.

Pedro was regaling the assembled throng with a curious tale of an American who has developed a sure-fire way to become a millionaire. He plans, or so it seems, to ask every person he meets for a cent (or pennies as they call them out there). On this basis he reckons he will break the magic million mark by the year 2001 - just in time for the new millennium.

Feeling, as I was, a little stressed on account of the heat and the sudden enthusiasm London has conjured up for Arsenal, I chose to decry his antics. Although my mental arithmetic is not up to much, I explained to the madding crowd that he will need to meet 100 million people all of whom must hand over a cent if he is to meet his target.

That equates to around 100,000 people a day, which requires enormous energy, a certain charm and a sturdy bladder. I argued to my fellow regulars that I would be more inclined to go for the low-volume, high-margin business instead, although this was denounced as unimaginative and unworthy of success.

The incident, however, set me thinking as to whether a similar technique could be employed to assist me in my quest for home ownership. What, I wondered to myself, if I were to ask every person I met for a brick. Would I have enough for a modest millennium maisonette?

No sooner had I asked the question than I realised there were a number of problems. Not everyone I know, sudden enthusiasm for Arsenal notwithstanding, carries a brick around with them. Further, as a wizened old sage of my acquaintance always reminds me, a house cannot be built with bricks alone. I know that did not stop the third little pig who escaped the clutches of the big bad wolf, but this is no fairy tale.

In the light of these practical problems I soon changed tack. Rather than beg for bricks I have decided to launch the country's first sponsored house. This allows people to make a financial donation safe in the knowledge that their investment will be applied to a particular part of the building. This will allow the less wealthy to contribute a single house brick on which I will lovingly inscribe their name or some other bon mot. The better heeled will be able to sponsor double glazing, conservatories, cat flaps and all the other necessities of home construction.

For the bigger items I will have to turn to corporate sponsorship. Hopefully I will be able to avoid having to build a suite of hospitality boxes alongside my humble dwelling, but I accept entirely that companies may want the opportunity at some point to entertain favoured clients and pass an enjoyable summer afternoon watching me mow the lawn.

The programme is already under way and so far I have collected a nail from the lady two doors down. I know about small acorns and mighty oaks but I somehow feel this project has a while to run.

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