What is it? Well, technically it's nothing. But it used to be a brothel. And that's interesting, isn't it? Think of it. Think of all the ghosts of fucks long done and paid for, thrusting ever around you;
Where is it? Birmingham, which – and whatever I say here, even if it's positive, is bound to result in a load of Brummies in the comments section going "YOWM LUNDUN TYPES DON'T KNOWM NUTHING ABOUT THE BRUM, WE'VE GOT A RIVER ISLAND NOWM, WE'RE NOT SIMPLE" – so let's just say: "It's the place that gave Jasper Carrott to the world" and leave it at that;
What is there to do around there? Go to the Bullring and marvel at the way everyone speaks like they are singing an ugly song very, very slowly; go and watch Aston Villa be appalling; drown yourself in a canal;
Alright, how much are they asking? £225,000.
To Birmingham now, and I know, I know: we are stretching the limits of the headline "London Rental Opportunity of the Week" thin like elastic, thin to snapping point, stretching it so it doesn't even make sense any more; the words are signifiers for signs that are 125 miles north-west. We are in Birmingham because London has done nothing for months. We are in Birmingham because that's where you can buy a brothel – right now, if you wanted one – for a cool £225,000.
Have you ever thought about owning a brothel before? Because I have never thought about owning a brothel before. Apparently this brothel made an estimated £7.5 million in five years, so. Listen, I am thinking about owning a brothel, right now, and guess what: I really, really want to own a brothel.
So let's dive inside this brothel, room by room by room. Here's the first room:
I've been enjoying I'm A Celebrity... recently, a TV show where Ant and Dec laughingly torture the shocked remains of Martin Roberts, and I like to think, once he has survived this ordeal, what he would make of this room: what would he say if Homes Under the Hammer were to open to this, a pulsating disco room with a flimsy DJ plinth and weak dancing pole, sticky with the lurid smell of sweat in the air?
I like to think he would say: "It has fantastic feature lighting and, look, plenty of seating for groups – just the place for a dinner party. And who knows? Should a guest spill the gravy, you've got a nice wipe-down surface to clean up afterwards." Would you run a blacklight over those sofas? Reader: you would not run a blacklight over those sofas.
So, the reason this brothel is for sale is because the father-son team who were running it were sent to prison this year for a 27-month sentence each, something that happened after the police noticed up to 200 men visiting the club each day.
Turns out, though, that because the police knew the club was a brothel for years – but everyone there was working safely and willingly – they had to wait for overwhelming evidence before pressing for a conviction, which came in the form of the son, 25-year-old Stefanos Neophytou, being violently kidnapped in what is thought to be a gang-related extortion exercise.
So what I am saying basically is: if you think at least one dude, but maybe a thousand, haven't had their heads fucking stomped on in this room, you are wrong. Look at this room. If you are going to stomp on anyone's head, ever, you are going to do it in a room with leopard-print wallpaper and the door off the hinges. Do it in front of the mirror so the fucker can see his own skull crumple.
Ah, it's just: every time I move to a new house (three places in the last 18 months! Can I get a hell-fucking-yeah!), I stand for a moment in place, beholding the empty space around me, and think: 'Who died here?' Because, statistically, someone died here. Or wherever. In every house in the UK. And if they didn't die here – in this house – someone died on this spot, in olden times. So wherever you put your bed, really, someone has already died there: it could be a grandma, quietly fading away in her sewing chair, or it could be an ancient peasant shot through the eye and the skull with a sharpened arrow.
And I just think, 'If you were to move to a condemned-looking brothel in Birmingham, what horrors would have happened on the exact spot you happen to be in at that time?' What happened in the photo above, a wet room where a bidet has been violently yanked out of the wall?
Or indeed here, which looks like a sort of prison cell you might design to keep someone whose only contact each day is a small grey meal being hand-pushed through to them in that hatch, and then, on alternate days, blasted with cold water from a high pressure hose?
I suppose we are in Birmingham, truly, to scope the place out before we invade it – we, of course, being The People Who Will Be Squeezed Out of London in the Coming Years, which as best I can tell is about 99 percent of everyone here currently under 30, maybe a bit more – migrating north from Britain's least viable city into Birmingham's battered old brothels and former strip clubs, eyes gleaming and ready to gentrify them. If we have our way, this lusty old spot will be a nice brunch place soon, or a hundred tiny flats, or a bike shop that also serves coffee but the people there are mad at you if you don't fully know about both.
So I suppose, for now, we should cherish this: the weird feeling that lubricant is smeared on every single wall, the odd vibe of murder dotted here and there, the overwhelming feeling that the only thing played from that DJ booth was a Calvin Harris Spotify playlist and maybe "Relight My Fire" when the lights come up. Soon, this peculiar grimness will be a thing of the past, cleaned out with pressure hoses, and we will gnaw and yearn for it again. Soon, we will not have formerly violent mega-brothels in our streets. If you still can, visit yours this weekend.
More fun rental opps!