…Jednota v rozmanitosti… Not quite up to speed on your Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch? Perhaps if I quote the motto of the European Union in English, it may help; “United in diversity” or if you have a particular affinity for the Indo-European mother language, ” In varietate Concordia“. Rather like naming the Blue Peter dog/cat/tortoise/presenter to replace the one who was caught in an opiate induced state, the motto was determined by a contest involving 80,000 students from the countries of the European Union. Particularly prescient, as this week we were besieged on all sides by matters foreign, brought to our very doorstep by the Nige v Nick debate that raised the most pertinent question, “Who’d choose one of these jabbering maniacs to rule us?” [sic] Quentin Letts, Daily Mail, Thursday March 27 2014. Ye Gods, give me strength. It has often been asked whether Nick (Dutch mother, half Russian father, Spanish wife and a career Eurocrat, Europhile who has never worked outside the embrace of its bosom) has the stars of the European Union tattooed on his posterior. What odds would I get at Ladbrokes? Although this one is more Paddy Power’s politically incorrect cup of tea. Nige isn’t that far behind on the inter-European marital stakes with a German second wife, but enough, this was serious stuff about our future as a nation. As I said, give me strength. My ire (and my blood pressure), had already been raised with an article in last weekend’s Daily Mail that wrote of the “People’s Republic of Wales” Robert Hardman , Daily Mail Saturday 22 March 2014. What pained me as a proud Welshman -“Gymraeg ac yn filch”-(that will test who actually went to or learnt anything from the enforced Welsh language lessons at school), was that Mr Hardman was absolutely on the money. Let us not forget that devolution came in as a result of a 25% turnout and a 51% majority for the ‘yes’ vote. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for self-government; the same self-government that has allowed the Welsh Assembly to $&$£ everything up. One only has to spend a Friday evening in the car park that passes for the M4 at the Bryn Glas Tunnels to see the efficacy of such self-government and those in power looking after their own people (sorry, they are looking after something beginning with ‘p’…). On the subject of devolution and self-government, you are either in, or you are out. Look at Scotland; Alex and his mates will keep North Sea Oil , the pound and the Armed Forces -just in case – but south of the border can keep RBS, the deficit and anything else that those the other side of Hadrian’s Wall don’t want. It don’t work that way jockey. It rather reminds me of Saddam Hussein who when found guilty and sentenced to death was thereby being granted a fast track ticket, access all areas pass to the 40 virgins he had proclaimed would always be waiting for him on his ceasing to wander the planet, but… he immediately launched an appeal of his sentence – just in case there was TB/syphilis/bird flu in the harem?
Continuing our Jules Verne tour of the globe; the former subcontinent got a mention in dispatches as regards the property market. Or more specifically, the housing market in London. Oliver Atkinson of the online estate agents urbansalesandletings.co.uk was quoted in various media outlets as saying that prices in London “are bordering on the doolally”[sic]. For the anoraks amongst you, this phrase originated from WW2 and the British army transit camp based at Deolali, India. Those who succumbed to fever or mental illness- borne from the conditions- who shook uncontrollably were deemed to have the ‘Doolally (Deolali) Tap’. (For a fixed fee I can not only measure up and market your property but I can also appear in your pub quiz team). Anyone with a modicum of intelligence must accept that what happens in the London postcodes is very different to what is happening in the rest of the country. Yes, there may be a ripple effect, housing market activity is increasing and consumer confidence is gradually improving, but the overall figures for property transactions are and will continue to be distorted by what is happening within the confines of the M25. This is best illustrated by returning to the land of Hadrian and his wall; the Land Registry reports that house prices in the North East fell by a further 1.3% in the 12 months up to February 2014. Hysteria is indeed gripping certain parts of the South East property market, just as it is gripping certain parts of the media who report on the property market. Robert Chote of the Office for Budget Responsibility was quoted on Wednesday as having concerns about the “bubbly activity” in some areas. This is resulting in sealed bids, open days where the overhead motorway signs are warning of ‘Congestion on Slip Road’ due to the slew of people pulling off to visit a particular semi and people being moved to murder to ensure that their offer is accepted (ok, I made the last one up). Through all this reportage, there is an underlying theme, a muted whisper that behind all this high octane activity, there is some form of skulduggery or praxis being carried out by estate agents. Just one question, is it always the case of nasty, nefarious estates agents and never greedy, avaricious vendors?