I speak as someone who is, to put it mildly, mortgaged up to the chestnuts. I got a statement through the other day from my lender; after six months of slogging away, draining hundreds of pounds a month from my income, I now owe only slightly more than I borrowed in the first place. I've only just paid off the interest.
Lucky to have a job that pays me well enough in the first place; lucky to have been lucky enough to have got onto the property ladder at a time and in an unfashionable area which gave me a ridiculous profit over a year - my flat, through just sitting there and being made of bricks, made more money than I did by going to work for eight and a half hours of honest toil every day. How do you think that made me feel? An inanimate object was the major breadwinner in my household; more to the point, it was my household.
I'm not complaining. I was extraordinarily lucky, and that gave me the deposit for a slightly bigger place, which made a slight amount of money, and now I live somewhere else, in a rather delightful ex-council house which, despite wonky floorboards and a completely deaf next-door neighbour who insists on turning the volume on his TV up to the level of a Harrier Jump Jet when he's watching Countdown, followed by Deal or No Deal, followed by the Paul O'Grady Show, which he does, without fail, every day of the week, is a spectacularly delightful place to live.
In a couple of years' time, it might be worth a lot less than I paid for it. Am I disappointed? Am I miserable? Am I cursing Jock McBottler and Alistair Darling for their evilness?
No, of course not. Like all those whining ninnies you hear from in the newspapers every day who bleat about the credit crunch and how they might have negative equity, I'm extraordinarily lucky. For one thing, I can actually afford to have bought somewhere in the first place - I don't have to go back to the bad old days of renting, being mentally and physically abused by a crazed old geezer with a cruel streak for the human race who ripped up my deposit with no justification whatsoever and laughed all the way to the bank. Compared to the hell of renting, owning a house is a piece of piss.
So if negative equity it must be, then it must be. And yes, it will be painful. But if you take the highs - ridiculous highs in recent years - then it's fair enough to accept the lows. If you're a home owner, and I am one, then you're incredibly lucky. There are a whole load of people finding it harder and harder to cope with rising food prices, rising fuel prices and essentials rising far faster than inflation. Those are the people, consistently ignored by the media, who will really suffer in the credit crunch.