At least one part of the British property market is still functioning. Sir Peter Viggers has managed to auction off his ornamental duck house, which became the emblem of the Parliamentary expenses scandal.
The former Gosport MP is donating the proceeds (£1,645) to Macmillan Cancer Support, rather than keeping them for himself. In a way it is a shame that Sir Peter has left politics, because his decision to forgo the profits of infamy shows that his political radar is finally functioning.
Yet while the charity donation is welcome, surely the duck house itself ought to have been preserved for the nation. This long ago ceased to be a common or garden wildfowl residence. It has value far beyond its basic function of keeping water off its inhabitants' backs. The duck house is now one of the icons of modern politics, like Harold Wilson's pipe, Margaret Thatcher's handbag, Tony Blair's acoustic guitar, or John Prescott's croquet mallet.
A museum in the House of Commons should be created to display such sacred items. And the Duck House should be prominent among them. A memento mori is just what MPs need as they go about their daily business.