(Top photo: Philip Brewer, via)
What is it? The thing, I suppose, with this series is that the format – the format being this bit, the bit with the bold text and the question marks – the format serves us so well during ordinary LROTW stories, but when we waver slightly outside the lines of that, the format, like a paperback book dropped inelegantly into a bath, folds and crumples completely, which is what is happening now;
Where is it? So again I suppose we do have to go through this, to mark this story out as being ostensibly a London Rental Opportunity of the Week story, despite it not being about a particular London Rental, but being instead about the housing market in general, and the complete lack of hope around it;
What is there to do locally? Also this story is four days old, I should probably mention that here;
Alright, how much are they asking? So see finally we have made it to the end of this bit, but the pacing – the pacing that marks this out as a LROTW story, and not just a "mad about the housing situation" story – the pacing has been established. And that's so crucial. So you think you just wasted 20 seconds reading all that, but you didn't. You didn't. You didn't waste it.
Anyway, here's the Evening Standard:
Parents should put aside a quarter of their children's pocket money and gifts from birth to enable them to buy a house, a study claims.
Is that not the Toriest sentence you've ever seen? I realised something recently, and that is this: the Toriest comment anyone can ever leave on an article online is to call a human being a "creature". Imagine it: a Daily Mail photo story of Marnie from Geordie Shore, heartbroken anew, and Dave from Bramley logs on to say: "and who is this tart? horrible creature." Or: a hard-done-by couple on benefits are being ejected from their flat, and, in desperation, pose on their sofa and tell their sob story to the local newspaper, who circulate it around the tabloids, and Roy from Chiddingfold logs on to say: "vile creatures!!!! and who is PAYING for all this?" That is just something I realised, about Tories, and Tory sentences.
The second-most Tory sentence behind that is: "Parents should put aside a quarter of their children's pocket money to enable them to buy a house."
A fifth of 18 to 25-year-olds think they will never afford to buy a home and almost 70 percent of parents worry about their children getting onto the property ladder.
Yet experts have suggested parents are not making the most of lucrative pocket money and childhood gifts in order to provide for their kids' future.
The study said children should save 25 percent of their "earnings" from birth until aged 25 in order to be able to afford a deposit.
The figures, published by HSBC, suggests the average child receives £131,832.94 in the first 25 years of their life through pocket money, tooth fairy donations, gifts and money for odd jobs and part time work.
Now, my fucking dude: how in the fuck is a child making £5,240 a year from tooth fairy money, lawnmowing money, the odd crisp £20 note in a birthday card from grandma? And how you gonna sit a kid down – the child, in this instance, the imaginary child that you and I have together, Dear Reader – our child is six, and sticky-handed and excited to spend his pocket money – we had a boy, his name is Noah – and our child, our beautiful strong stupid boy, he has two hot little pound coins in his tiny chubby palm, and we are sitting him down, you and I, and saying: "Now, Noah: give daddy 25 percent of your earnings to put in a tracker ISA for you to finally unlock when you're 25."
And our boy says – his language isn't quite as developed as the other kids in his year, and we both fret over it but love him anyway – and our beautiful stupid sweet boy says: "BUT NOAH WANTDOUBLE DECKER"
And we have to say to him – patiently – we have to tell him: Now, boy, please stop prioritising short-term gains over long-term goals.
And we take 25 percent of his pocket money away and he runs to his room and has a tantrum.
And we know that we have done the right thing as a parent.
It advises that, by saving one quarter of these "earnings", every 25-year-old could have enough to put down the average deposit of £32,000.
Yes I'm sure stealing a child's pocket money now, in big old 2017, is really going to do them well in 2042, when £32,000 will be roughly the equivalent of one bus fare.
Tracie Pearce, HSBC UK's Head of Mortgages, commented: "The findings are really quite astonishing. We have shown that it is possible to get onto the property ladder reasonably quickly, even by the age of 25.
"For parents, the key is to start saving for your child early and to encourage a savings habit so when they are old enough to make financial decisions by themselves, they can see the benefit of saving towards their first home.
"We're not suggesting that children and young adults shouldn't spend any of their pocket money or enjoy themselves, but they should be aware of what money they have and receive, and regularly save some of it."
"We're not suggesting children and young adults… shouldn't… enjoy themselves" is a kind of unusual thing to say, though, isn't it, because that's very much exactly what you are saying.
The data, published in conjunction with the HSBC Deposit Dash study, suggests children receive about £3,600 in pocket money by the age of 18 and a further £4,844.60 in handouts between the ages of 19 to 25.
I do love the idea of money given to children as being described as "handouts", because "handout" is a very loaded term when it comes to money – it is always used, basically, when talking about people on benefits, as if the government is just scattering money from the top of skyscrapers for the poor to jump at and scrabble for and spend on cigarettes, as if the concept of human beings needing money to buy the fundamentals is distasteful, somehow, that the government is just fickle, handing money out willy-nilly, just so the jobless don't die – and just the idea of a child being given a £5 note and someone going "you should save at least a pound of that, you lazy little fucking wretch" is deeply amusing to me.
But then I suppose I am starting to look for tiny pinpricks of light wherever I can find them in this darkness, because please recall that this is an actual bank – HSBC, who commissioned this nonsense to draw a news story up about it, to bring more attention to them, a classic media trick I have fallen hook, line and sinker for – but this is an actual bank, here, saying this. Like: if any of us need a mortgage, ever – and it's impossible, let's be real, but let's play an imagination game – we have to go, cap in hand, to a bank for it. And we turn up at HSBC in our best clothes and with our most wholesome faces on, and hold hands with each other and sit straight-backed, and little Noah is there, no chocolate on his face for once, we've taken the big plaster off his lazy eye for the day to make him more appealing, and we go, "Please, HSBC," we say it together, "please: lend us the money to buy a house. We will spend the rest of our natural born lives paying it back to you." And the HSBC lady will smile sweetly and say: but did you save all your pocket money up from when you were five? And we will say: no. And she will say: do you know how much money has been just handed to you since 1987? £131,000. And we will say: I did not know that.
And she will lean closer, her legs folded over one another, her face a façade of calm, and she will lean closer so we can only hear her whisper.
And she will hiss: well get the fuck out of my fucking face then, you snivelling little shit.
And we will go back to renting again, forever.
More from this series, ones that more strictly adhere to the format: