Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

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The Independent Online

The story so far: the author has sold his house to finance a manufacturing project in the hope of making a small fortune to finance his old age...

Now that we're ready to go, now that everything is in place, now that the final components are practically in the post... I've bought a house again. It's half the size of the old one but (in the way of these things) two-thirds of the price. The estate agent tells me in the nicest possible way that, in the last 12 months, my old house went up a lot, whatever the national statistics say. If he were to put that house on the market now? Ooh... He names a figure, and I try not to wince and go white. I take it on the chin. It went up by the equivalent of a year's salary. I deal with that in the best way possible: I simply don't think about it.

It's not the money - though of course, it is - but the reflection on my business sense. If business is about maximising one's asset base, this project has been very counter-productive. It's possible I have no business sense. Enterprise, creative endeavour, invention - these exist independently of running a business. In fact, the better at one, usually the worse you are at the other. It's a zero-sum game.

Anyway, here we are, back in the property market; I am no longer homeless. The difference between renting and owning is very marked. For a year there was virtually no interchange with the neighbours. We avoided each other's eyes. Were we ashamed of ourselves for not owning? I moved in just down the road and neighbours from all round knock on the door and make you welcome. It's a different world.

Property is a great underpinning of kitchen capitalism. The Government should encourage home ownership to promote enterprise. A house is investment funding right there in any owner's grasp, accessible in a phone call, without explanation or persuasion. Money is no longer the problem. All that's needed (though it's more than I'd thought) is the stomach-turning recklessness to throw your greatest asset into the hazard.

But we're ready. It's time for production. Every important thing has been done. The technical and aesthetic variables have been reduced from seven digits to a cute little box that wouldn't look out of place in Harvey Nichols. We're ready to go. Where are those components?

Wales finally gets back with the delivery dates. They were four to six weeks away a month ago, by the law of components now eight to 10 weeks away. Mid- to end of June. End of June? That means July! The beginning of July means the middle of July! The middle of July means - I no longer know. Do you think they'll be here in time for Christmas?

I am content to wait, now, looking out down my garden, across the canal to the Trap grounds. The sun sets behind the spring growth of the poplars, making everything within glow, and songbirds sing.