It’s been quite a week politically. Monday was International Women’s Day; by Wednesay, a serving Metropolitan Police office had been arrested for Sarah Everard’s kidnapping and murder; on Saturday the same Metropolitan Police were filmed manhandling women who had turned up to a vigil for her on Clapham Common.
Next week, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is being rushed through the rump COVID parliament (it was only introduced last week) and it’s as bad as you’d expect from an authoritarian, nativist, culture war stoking government. It represents a huge restriction on the right to protest.
There’s a detailed expert analysis of the bill at protestmatters. It’s not good. It will leave protest further at the discretion of the police, a discretion that it’s even harder to have faith in after last night.
We’re buying a house. Last week, I wrote:
Almost as easy as buying a house! Now both things seem impossible.
I must have reverse-jinxed it, because we had an offer accepted. We saw a house in October, and offered significantly less than the asking price. The vendor rejected the offer. A couple of weeks ago, the asking price dropped to a little more than we’d offered. We went to see it again, offered the same amount as last time, and on Monday they phoned to say our offer was accepted.
I’ve spent most of this week dealing with the bureaucracy of house-buying. There’s so much of it, and I’ve made a rod for my own back. I thought I was being clever by having my savings spread around different accounts and currencies and actively trying to avoid having too much in my current account when it could be making a return, but the result is that my financial affairs are basically indistinguishable from money laundering and now I have to produce a lot of statements to persuade people that’s not the case.
It’s amazing how many savings services don’t have a simple way to obtain a statement. Particular discredit to Tandem Bank, who changed their app a month or two ago and removed access to statements before January (as well as making it a complete hassle to log in). I have to wait for paper statements. Paper! This was not the reason I chose an online bank for my savings. Fortunately, I don’t have to rely on that account to prove that I have the deposit, but I do need it for the solicitors’ money laundering checks.
After a week, we’re pretty far along the process: mortgage application submitted, solicitors instructed, survey booked. The house is currently empty so I’m optimistic that we can complete before the end of June and save ourselves about £12,000 in SDLT.
I hope it all goes through. Even though it’s not a huge house – in fact, it’s almost exactly the same floor area as our current flat – I think it will feel bigger because here will be storage. This flat has three kitchen cupboards, all shallow upper ones. The house has a normal kitchen designed for more than just living off takeaways. There’s a loft: we can put suitcases and Christmas decorations out of the way.
Apart from storage, two other things will make a big improvement to daily life. The house has a separate sitting room and kitchen so we can watch TV without the smell of frying or the rumble of the dishwasher or washing machine. I’m also looking forward to having normal windows rather than floor-to-ceiling panes that are freezing in winter and an actual greenhouse in summer.
I also think that having a garden rather than a small, windswept balcony will make a difference, especially in the warmer months.
But don’t worry, even once I join the bourgeoisie, there will always be a tiny guillotine in my heart for landlords.
Yes, all landlords. How could there not be when I’ve spent the past decade and a half paying other people to get richer simply because I didn’t have enough capital myself? And were I single, I’d be stuck doing so, because being able to pay rent doesn’t mean a bank will let you pay the same amount on a mortgage. The flat I live in now cost £147,500 when it was bought in 1999. I’ve lived here since 2009, during which time I have paid more than that in rent alone! The value has gone up to about £400,000, judging by the two flats on either side, so they’ve made at least £⅓ million of pure profit just for being able to get a mortgage in 1999. Money straight from the young to the old. And if you think I’m angry about it, wait till you see how bad it is for people ten or twenty years younger.