Bricks and Mortar, Tits and Reporters and Goodbye to The Girl Who Waited
Renaude Hatsedakis

Bricks and Mortar, Tits and Reporters and Goodbye to The Girl Who Waited

Written by James Stainer Wednesday, 17 July 2013

How To Turn A House Into A Loan?

Do you remember the heady days before the crash? The Augustine era when champagne was pouring out of women’s breasts and little dogs shat out gold ingot? It’s highly unlikely you do, because I am exaggerating for comic effect.

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But in comparison to today we were doing fairly well for ourselves, thankyou very much. Whilst as now our country is so broke we are closing libraries, shutting centres for victims of rape and domestic violence and taking benefits away from disabled children. And sadly that sentence contains no hyperbole.

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One of the great cultural shifts we saw during the sustained period of economic growth was firstly a rather obscene deification of the wealthy. Bankers stopped being seen as rather boring, bowler-hatted drones doing uninteresting but necessary work. Now, newly liberated by the stock-market deregulation of the 1980s, they had seen their pay spiral and were the new playboy Aristocracy. There were slavish reality TV programmes showing them purchasing incredibly expensive champagne with mini-fireworks attached. The purpose of which was to ensure that when a bottle was ordered it would arrive at the table with red sparks announcing its arrival and drawing maximum attention. And funnily enough these programmes weren’t meant to make us hate them, it wasn’t a clever far-left piece of programming meant to inspire us into class-based warfare, instead we were meant to like this people. Personally I thought they were fucking horrible and the whole scene made me sick.

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The second new cultural wave that emerged was an even more noticeable one which revolved around an obsession with housing. Changing Rooms started in 1996 and asked a nation of people, “hey, give a shit about other people’s houses” which may not have worked if the nation they had asked had not been the British. By the 2000’s four out of every five programmes on television were property shows, probably. Channel 4 in particular seemed to be going out of its way to help out the housing industry with a constant stream of television programmes dedicated to bricks and mortar. It made stars out of the presenters, on the posh end of the scale we had Kevin McCloud patronising people who were building £2million pound houses out of seaweed, McCloud always looked odd on those shows as the ever increasing gap between his eyebrows and his hairline gave the impression of a man who had built a loft conversion in his own forehead. You could also wonder at Sarah Beaney, who somehow managed to contrive to be pregnant for ten solid years, the only woman in history to have a decade-long third trimester. But the most famous of these were Kirsty and Phil, the hosts of Location, Location, Location They always look a little like the two most middle-class porn stars in history. I watched one episode once where a young female graduate was shown round flats in Manchester and as Kirsty ushered her in, wearing a tight black skirt and high leather boots with Phil following in behind, leering at their nubile concubine I felt a little like I was watching the start of a Moms Teaching Teens Video.

It’s one of those things that you have to step back and think about for a second, Britain has celebrity estate agents, we’ve gone fucking mad.

The housing price bubble was seen as a uniformly good thing. Yet I fail to see how. The biggest losers have been the young and the poor. The average age of a first time buyer in this country is now 35, Tim from The Office is no longer a sad act, but the norm. People sneer at “girls who get pregnant to jump the housing queue” yet never stop to consider how utterly warped our society is that people find such an act necessary for them to ascertain a house. Even for homeowners I fail to see the advantage, yes your house is now more valuable, but so is everyone elses. Your house might be worth a million pounds, but so are similar houses in similar areas, the only way you would benefit is to be the world’s wealthiest tramp. Yet people have been taken in by this and act like they are in fact very canny entrepreneurs, exclaiming over the Pinot Grigio, “our house rocketed in value since we bought iy” like they’re Warren fucking Buffet.

There have only been two real beneficiaries of this explosion in house prices. Firstly, asylum seekers, because every time the Daily Mail headline is “HOUSE PRICE SHOCK” it’s a headline that isn’t accusing refugees of spit-roasting Princess Di or something. The second huge winner from our spiralling house prices has been banks. These institutions which are, deservedly, slightly less popular than Nazi paedophile rings or Islamic extremist Morris dancing societies, have become hugely wealthy as a result of higher house prices. It is now impossible, unless you’re a tax-dodging Glenn Quagmire-faced comedian, to buy a home without a mortgage. This means that most of the population will, at some point, have to go into masses of debt that they will spend the rest of their lives paying off, we were told we were building a property owning democracy, in fact it is now the banks who own both our property and our democracy. This idea of keeping individuals in debt is also the way the student loan market works in the USA, and the way it is heading over here. It is a process called financialisation and in many ways it has more in common with feudalism than capitalism. To an extent this is deliberate policy, indebted individuals do not go on strike and as long as you are required to go into debt to purchase a house and an education – two of the ultimate tickets into the middle-classes – then the banks will continue to have us by the bollocks.

Even Channel 4 is beginning to doubt the brilliance of basing our entire economy around housing, broadcasting a series of shows highlighting the inherent problems in such a situation. Turning on Channel 4 and seeing programmes attacking the housing market was a bit like watching a feminist critique of the exploitation and objectification of women in the porn industry on SlutLoad.

Originally published on http://nyebaron.wordpress.com

James Stainer

James Stainer

History student. Manc. Red. Socialist.

Website: nyebaron.wordpress.com
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