Kevin Myers: 'There's a two-foot toadstool on the ceiling and a dead nun under the floorboards -- is this standard practice?'
Odd, isn't it, that the biggest financial undertaking of our lives is one for which we have absolutely no preparation, education or expertise. We have almost made it a cultural obligation for young people to buy a house without any prior lessons whatever in finance, structural engineering or the idiosyncrasies of the property market.
Instead, they must depend on a bizarre cocktail of family folklore and estate-agent voodoo. Yes, I know, I know, we all want to blame the bankers for the ruin that has befallen us -- but we must surely have been a bunch of dupes and halfwits to think that such massive financial arrangements, involving decades-long contracts which will probably last until gangrene has turned our toes pale green, could be undertaken with no serious comprehension whatsoever of the many complex factors involved.
In most areas of life, we insist that knowledge precedes experience. This is why we don't choose our airline-pilot with a lottery amongst the passengers shortly before take-off. Gynaecologists are not generally selected from the men's wing of the Sunset Home for the Elderly & Bewildered. We prefer our dentists to know more about teeth than they do about 20 interesting things one can do with an anaesthetised patient without her ever finding out.