Reply To: Its the weekend – time for some humour


We’ve heard of tours of the homes of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills and beyond. But American Real Estate Agents are now holding foreclosure tours. If Britain really does follow America, how long before open-topped buses are touring London, with guides pointing out all the bargains on offer?

“Laydeez and gennulmen, welcome, wilkommen and bienvenue aboard the Sub-prime Special, sponsored by Northern Rock. Simultaneous translation into 38 different languages is available via the headsets provided for a modest charge, plus VAT.

“We are experiencing some turbulence in the financial markets, so please keep your seatbelts fastened at all times.

“As we travel around today, you will observe a large number of empty pubs for sale, as a result of the Government’s smoking ban, the recent rise in the tax on alcohol and the 100 per cent increase in business rates over the past ten years.

“This a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a slice of British history. For instance, as we make our way along Whitehall, on the right you can see Ye Olde Spinne Doctor, formerly the Red Lion, where legend has it that the theory of post-neo-classical endogenous growth was discovered over a few pints of draft Bass.

“This ancient hostelry is no longer economically viable, since all civil servants have been banned from drinking at lunchtime. It does come with planning permission for conversion into a hostel for asylum seekers.

“We are also delighted to offer for sale several hundred post offices, which have been closed under the Government’s modernisation programme. These are ideal premises for shops selling fireworks, mobile phones, cut-price cigarettes and booze from Calais, or, indeed, one of those fine establishments where everything costs a pound.

“Given their prime High Street location, they are also a perfect proposition for any entrepreneur in the human trafficking community planning to open a sauna and massage parlour.

“But enough of commercial property, we intend today to show you some of the prime residential stock which has come on to the market.

“We begin at Number 1 Carlton Gardens, St James, the official home of the Foreign Secretary, which is being offered for sale by the Treasury in order to meet a temporary shortfall in the public sector borrowing requirement.

“It was most recently valued at £20million, but the Chancellor has indicated that no reasonable bid will be refused, especially if the purchaser is prepared to pay cash.

“Next stop is a lavishly appointed grace-and-favour apartment in historic Admiralty House, just off Trafalgar Square, which used to be occupied by a notorious former Deputy Prime Minister, who was forced to vacate at short notice after being caught in a compromising situation with his diary secretary. It comes with parking space for two Jaguars.

“Our next property is a mansion in fashionable Primrose Hill, belonging to one of the architects of New Labour. This gentleman has a history of mortgage irregularities and when he paid £2.4 million for the house two years ago, eyebrows were raised at his ability to afford it.

“His current contract with the European Commission is not being renewed and he is unlikely to be able to make the repayments.

“The house includes a priceless Philippe Starck toilet bowl and a selection of Brazilian artifacts.

“We are now entering Connaught Square, at the heart of London’s vibrant Arab Quarter.

“On your left is the home of a former statesman, whose name I am unable to reveal for security reasons. It has been subject to extensive renovation, but with the owner soon to be arrested on war crimes charges he will not be able to meet his mortgage commitments and is, therefore, offering the property at auction for a quick sale. He is also prepared to throw in two flats in Bristol.

“Finally we come to the jewel in the crown, the best address in London, No 10 Downing Street.

“Some elements of refurbishment will be required since there is a hole in the downstairs wall with the adjoining property where someone spent ten years banging on it. The present occupant lives frugally and has not replaced the light fittings and doorknobs which were stripped out by the wife of the previous tenant prior to her departure.

“The property is no longer needed and the deeds have been signed over to Brussels. The occupant, who is believed to be in America seeking a way out of his financial difficulties, is to be evicted.

“Fixtures and fittings include a recently-discovered painting by Whistler called The Death Of Prudence.”
courtesy Richard Littlejohn (Daily Mail)