Daily Mail journalists don't dream. If they did, though, they'd spend night after night drifting in the sweet vision of a day when the Big Transfer Rumour Story and the Big Expensive House Story come together to form a kind of super-story, like that bit at the end of the Power Rangers where all the dinosaurs stand on one another's shoulders. You'd think that the baddies might have planned for that particular move, since it happened every single episode, but we digress. Back to the Mail.
Today is that happy day!
You'll have noticed that Angel di Maria isn't playing very well. You'll have heard that PSG might be considering a bid in the summer. And today's exciting development is that the Argentine has moved house. For everybody else in the world, that's a line or two. Maybe a short piece if it's a slow day following a light weekend. For the Mail, however, that's the inspiration for a 13-image photoessay on the house that Di Maria is leaving behind.
The true wonder of this story, however, lies not in the fact that the Mail is banging on about big houses; that's only to be expected The true wonder lies in the captions, an agonised scream from an innocent human trapped inside the crunching wheels of content generation, being eaten alive by the internet. This is what it sounds like, when subs cry.
We begin in fairly conventional style:
A general shot of the house that Angel di Maria and his family were staying in up until the break-in that occurred after the turn of the year
But it quickly becomes clear that material is thin:
The house has been put up for sale after the Di Marias moved out following the break-in that occurred last month
Realising that a third mention of the break-in (that occurred last month, after the turn of the year) would be silly, we move inside:
A night time photograph of the swimming pool inside the mansion which Di Maria was renting
And lest we think that Di Maria's life is all relaxation:
Di Maria's mansion had its own gym included next to the swimming pool at the luxury pad
What the hell do you say about a lounge? Nothing, as it turns out:
A photograph of Di Maria's lounge in his mansion which has now been put up for sale by its private owners
Intriguingly, in the search for something to write, our captioneer has slightly undermined the premise of the story. It's not Di Maria that's selling up; it's whoever Di Maria was renting the place from. Perhaps sensing that an error has been made, our caption writer falls back on the most basic of context, be that sporting ...
The lounge which Di Maria and his family stayed in after he moved to Manchester United from Real Madrid
... or financial ...
The kitchen in the luxury six-bedroom £4.15m mansion which Di Maria and his family were renting previously
... or even geographical ...
A jaccuzzi [sic.] in Di Maria's luxury Prestbury mansion, which is now being put up for sale by its owner
... before alighting gratefully on the oldest of the old tricks, counting the bedrooms:
One of the six bedrooms in the luxury mansion that is now being put up for sale following the break-in that happened last month
But we're not done. In fact, we're going from the top again:
Di Maria and his family will no longer stay at the mansion following the break-in that occurred after the turn of the year
And then we're going into the one room we haven't encountered yet, a vision in marble, the most sacred space of all:
A photograph of the bathroom in the mansion formerly rented by United's £60m signing Di Maria
As you read this next one, you can hear the caption-writer's heart break. I could have been anything, they howl. I could be walking on a beach in Goa or striding through the clean air of the Appalachians or building a house for my family with my bare hands. Instead, I'm writing "another photograph of the bathroom":
Another photograph of the bathroom in the luxury pad that will no longer be rented by Di Maria
And here, finally, the last one. The dying whimper of a helpless sub-editor with nothing left to give:
The hallway in the mansion will no longer be used by the Di Marias as they have now found somewhere else to live
One cynic has suggested that the Mail has been tipped the nod, along with some tasteful photographs of a clearly unoccupied house, by an estate agent who knows what's what. Another that the Mail doesn't trust their readers to remember the details of a story from one side of a photograph to the other. We couldn't possibly comment.
But now that we've got this far, tBB is struck by the thought maybe we're looking at this all wrong. Maybe our caption wrangler isn't at the end of their tether; maybe this isn't a cry for help, but a poem. A delicate lament of love and loss, of dreams that go sour. Of loneliness in a strange land. Of really, really expensive homes, and the transient lives of those who move through their halls, their bedrooms, their swimming pools, then vanish.
"Di Maria's House":