Northern Rock, the nationalised mortgage lender whose financial difficulties triggered the credit crunch in the UK, has reported a loss of over £585m.
“We had it here a minute ago,” said a bank spokesman. “We thought it was in the cookie jar on the kitchen sideboard, but that’s empty. Somebody thought she’d seen it under an ornament on the mantelpiece, but we drew a blank there too. We’re currently checking under the mattress and down the back of the sofa, but to be honest it’s not looking good.”
Worried bank officials rang the Chancellor - Alistair Darling at the time of writing – who immediately offered to drive round to Newcastle and pop an envelope containing £3bn of taxpayers’ money through the bank’s letterbox to tide them over.
“Don’t worry, folks," he smiled, “There’s plenty more where that came from. This is nothing to worry about. It’s just like the other banks are doing with their share issues - except of course that their shareholders can choose whether or not to pour even more of their money into the black hole created by greedy financial speculators, and you can’t.”
Ron Silva, a banking analyst at Tower Group, suggested that the lender’s woes were far from over.
“The only people that are left holding mortgages at Northern Rock are really those that are unable to find alternative mortgage providers,” he said, “And they’re very high risk people, or Northerners as we call them in financial circles.”
Local journalists were upbeat, however.
“Things could be a lot worse,” pointed out Peter Montellier, deputy editor of the Journal, “7,000 people could be out of work.”
“I’d be quite happy to be out of work, actually,” said one overworked debt counsellor from the bank. “If we divvied up Darling’s latest bung, every one of us would have £428,714 in redundancy money, and we could all retire to Spain.”