How to make a killing on the property market.

Another day, another damning reveal of Tory priorities.  After the mayhem of the weekend, which saw Johnson’s re-branding of the virus as something controllable, as long as we #stayalert, we now have Wednesday Morning’s attempt to re-open the housing market.

This, it has been pointed out, sends a confusing message.  On the one hand, we cannot yet meet out loved ones ‘coz virus. On the other hand, we can have countless strangers sift through our property, determine its’ value and make us an offer.  So, to be clear, Grandpa is still out of bounds, unless he is in the market for a two up, two down, with charming views of the Thames.

One does not have to be a convicted cynic to see what is going on here.

The Tories are putting the sale and purchase of houses above the welfare of those living in them.  This is not a new policy.  This is Tory 101.  Money matters more than people.  It’s also housing policy 101, across the U.K., across Europe.  It is why people live and die in over the odds rented accommodation, so that others can live and die with a property portfolio.

One of the first and starkest casualties of the virus, apart from the dead old people, and the dead N.H.S. staff, was AIR B and B.  An industry completely reliant on tourists paying vastly inflated rent to cover mortgages and business models that had no get out plan for a world wide recession.   It was a very small violin that we played for these victims because, instinctively, we knew their retirement funds came at the expense of our children’s chances on the property ladder.

The property ladder that we all queue to join, coz you’re nobody ’till you own your own home.  That’s actually not true.  If you want lifelong, residential security, you are better off serving your time in the ‘homeless- will live anywhere for a few years’ property market, in order to gain the most elusive of things – secure, affordable, lifelong accommodation.

See, the most unbelievable plot line in ‘Friends’ was not how six white gorgeous people found each other, but how Monica walked away from a rent controlled apartment in New York City.  That would never happen.

People weren’t that stupid, then.

And people aren’t so stupid, now, as to buy and sell properties, willy nilly, during a pandemic.  Some will still try to buy and sell, but not enough people to keep the wheels of the property market, where they want it, spinning out of control.

Property rising without end only benefits the few.

Your refurbished bungalow, with a veranda that opens up on a lush back garden, complete with Granny flat, loses some appeal when we have to kill Granny to make the sale.




Eleven things I’ve learned in Lockdown

The longer lockdown goes on the more confused I become.  It’s not accidental.  In a time when data is worth more than gold, non bias information, that doesn’t come with a follow me caveat, is priceless.  Because of this, I feel like I know less, now, than I did when this shit storm began.  That’s not to say I am completely ignorant.  This much I’ve learned.

(1) There is a either a real virus or a pretend virus.  This possible virus is probably highly contagious and because of that we need to practice social distancing.  Social distancing means different things to different people and we have no consensus, as a population, on what two metres looks like.  The impact of social distancing is severely weakened if international travel restrictions aren’t in place.

(2) The only consensus we have is that we are deeply divided.

(3) If the virus is real, then we are reaping what we have sown.  We have prioritised wealth accumulation for the few, over basic social and healthcare for the many.  Most of us belong in the ‘many’ category, when stripped of our meaningful job titles and social status.  If the virus is real, we have been exposed on the world stage as the fur coat and no knickers, tin pot, sham of a democracy we actually are.

(4) We really hate old people.

(5) If the virus is real, many more of us are going to have to die, in order to convince enough of us to take action.  A probable virus verses an economic downturn is the false dichotomy we are all being sold.  The economy, in its current form, exists to make the rich richer on the back of zero hours contracts, a monopoly on residential real estate and the privatisation of public institutions.

(6) Demonising those on welfare and making poverty synonymous with idleness and a flawed character only works when the minority need state benefits.

(7) If the virus is pretend, then we won’t ever believe anything a government or media outlet tells us again.  If the polls are to be trusted, we don’t believe anything our government or media are telling us now.  If the virus is pretend, most of us will continue to be duped by the belief we have lived through a pandemic, if we do, for the rest of our lives.  If the virus is pretend, as we stay indoors, a global cabal may be planning to take control of our bodies and minds through vaccines and contact apps.  A sort of contemporary version of The Spanish Inquisition, with a celebrity angle, coz a cult without high profile influencers is just a group of people.

(8) The right to bear arms is making America more dangerous by the day.

(9) The closer we get to death, the deeper our understanding of the fragility and sacred nature of human life.   As a society, we have been duped into believing that we exist solely for the realisation of our personal desires.  We have been conned into the cult of individualism, where narcissism is a virtue and intellectualism is despised by a quick fix culture that doesn’t have time to think.

(10) Teachers should be given a fuck load more money.

(11) People dependant on food banks to survive.  Do not resuscitate orders flying out of doctors surgeries.  The elderly abandoned to a mass cull.   TV shows donating medical  equipment  to I.C.U. units.  Homeless, dying of thirst, on the gold paved streets of one of the finest capital cities in the world.  In an age where patriotism is enjoying a resurgence, there is very little about life on this island, right now,  to make us feel proud.







10 Tips to held create rounded characters in fiction.

Creating believable, interesting characters is one of the cornorstones of writing any fiction, from a short story through to a series.  Like all writing skills, the ability to do so is as learned as it is in -ate, and practice always helps.

(1)  Picking a sex and a name are obvious starting points.  Names will be influenced by other major characteristics, such as nationality and job.  For example double bar names are more common among professional types such as lawyers and academics than they are in the service industry.  Artists often have quirky names, by both accident and design.

(2) Give them an age and root them chronologically.  After you have determined their date of birth you can create a rough timeline of their lives including all major events such as starting schools, starting collage work,  all their firsts that they have experienced from alcohol to sex to violent encounters.  When they married, if they did, or moved in with a partner or their current flatmate.

(3) Give them a look.  Start with the basics height, weight, nationality, skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, hair length.  Give them scars and tattoos and physical quirks, and dress them.  Are they attractive?  Or ugly as sin?  How confident are they?  Are they naturally beautiful or do they try to hard?  Are they conscious of their appearance or indifferent.  Their income will shape some of their style choices, but style itself does not belong to any class.

(4) Give them a family tree that traces their parents and siblings and off-springs and other relatives that are significant to the plot.

(5) Give them a personality.  Start out in broad strokes and then refine.  Are they an optimist or a pessimist?  Are they mild mannered and pleasant?  Or quite rude and abrupt.  Are they alpha or beta?   Are they good or bad?  Once you have determined the bigger traits you can start to add layers.  What about contradictions?  They may be notoriously mean, never buying their round in the pub, but have one person or cause that they lavish their money on?

(6) Give them a present.  What do they do?  What do they earn? Where do they live?  Do they have financial security?  Do they have emotional security?  Are they happy with their current lot.

(7) Give them a past.  Once you know where they are at the start of their story, you can figure out better how they got there.  A doctor, for example will have years of study in her background, if she’s young, she may have huge debt, if she’s older, she might have accumulated wealth.  A successful actor may have spent years moonlighting as a waiter.  People often tend to do what their parents do, or reject their background entirely.

(8) Make a list of their likes and dislikes.  What their favourite food, film, book?  What’s there guilty pleasure.  What do they do in their free time?  What are they passionate about, bearing in mind even the apathetic and cynical, have causes and people that matter to them?  Who do they admire? Who do they hate? Who do they envy and why? Are they authentic, or a hypocrite, or like many of us, a bit of both.

(9) Dig into their secrets.  What do they feel guilty about?  What are they ashamed of?  What do they hope no-one ever finds out about them? Who have they lied to?  Who have they lied for? Who do they trust? Who do they fear.  Broadly and more specifically.  For example a woman who has been subjected to a sexual assault may fear all men, but especially her attacker.

(10) What is their relationship to modern technology?  If a piece is written in contemporary times, the characters must interact with modern communication systems such as the internet and all its corresponding social media, in age appropriate ways and devises.  For example the young ones all have phones and communicate through them almost all the time, including to each other, whilst sharing physical space.  Many of your older characters will also engage with social media for work and pleasure.  At least some of your characters will access the dark web.

All of the above are just suggestions and should only be used if they prove useful.  There is no one way to write a character and the most carefully crafted protagonist can find themselves acting in an unexpected fashion as planning meets writing.  The important thing to remember is to enjoy creating characters and the freedom knowing them better brings to your story.