Today, we shall reinvent the wheel…

According to reports in last week’s press, first time buyers are, “boxed in by rising prices” Anna Mihkailova, Sunday Times 22 September 2014  A suitably attention grabbing headline, but what exactly does it mean?  The usual it transpires; people need to earn enough to be able to afford a mortgage.  A revolutionary idea indeed.  What did draw my attention, was a quote attributed to Matthew Pointon of the consultancy firm, Capital Economics who said, “The cooling for housing demand is particularly evident in the capital.  We expect prices to have grown 18% this year and to rise 6% in 2015 – in line with growth in the UK as a whole” [sic]  Fantastic news I thought, book me a one way ticket to Paddington; in fact, with 6% growth as the prize, I’ll start walking now.  Let me break his despondent comment down:

1. His figures determine house price inflation over two years of 24% Fan-bloody-tastic.  That averages out at 12% per annum.  Fan-bloody-tastic x 2.

2.  We have not seen a 12% annual rise in house prices in Wales since Take That were the original 5 piece outfit. (Jason, you traitor).

3.  What figure would be indicative of the property market heating up, not cooling down?

On Wednesday, I was at a property that the owners had purchased exactly 50 years ago for the costly sum of £2000.  It is being marketed half a century later for £200,000.  Well done to them, but we are talking 12 Olympiads, 9 Prime Ministers, 13 World Cups and god knows how many farewell tours, comebacks and the definitive final gig (at The Pearly Gates) of Frank Sinatra, later. Of greater relevance than the abysmal record of our football team at international level, is that 50 years ago, house prices in London were about 3 times that of those in Wales.  Back to Ms Mikhailova’s article, that states that in 2014 the average house price in Wales is £171,000 compared to the average house price in London of £514,000. That equates to, you’ve got it, the London Price is about three times the Welsh figure.  For those fans of Tiger Bay’s finest, Shirl was right when she said, “History Repeating”.

What intrigues and irritates me in equal measure is why the hysteria?  The sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west, Alex Salmond will continue to pop up to grab his time in the glare of the media bulbs (whatever he stated last week about handing over the leadership of the SNP), I will continue to have to disappoint Miss Minogue that I am betrothed to another and the housing market will repeat the same trends over and over again.

A simple request, but can we not just get on with it, rather like the 91 year old gentleman who stole the show at this week’s Labour Party Conference? Admittedly the competition was more Conference than Premier League, but having seen it all before, before the era of social media and its insatiable need to have something to say (preferably overwrought and anguished), the war veteran said it as he saw it, without hysteria and grandstanding. His generation had to be the type that just got on with it, regardless of their political hue.

Well done guys !!!!

Bike Pic

Home rule for Cwmbran…

…with me as Commander in Chief/La Grande Fromage/King.  Don’t laugh people, it could happen.  My role as the supreme being goes without saying, the extent of my realm is still open to discussion; as it would seem is most of the United Kingdom.  Now did ‘Call me Dave’ get lucky, or did he (and his strategists) play an absolute blinder?  Many a bar room discussion will differ, but tactical nous or Lady Luck (for the trivia fans amongst you, the title of a song by the Scottish group, The Proclaimers), has now driven the other Dave  (of the Ed variety) up a dark alley with no battery life left in his phone.   No wonder the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service and now wannabee Labour MP, Sir Kier ‘like your quiff’ Starmer, who was named after the North Lanarkshire bred founder of the modern Labour Party and the first independent Labour Member of Parliament, wants a nice easy seat in the leafy suburbs of London, not in Govan.

As may not have escaped your attention, there was this week the small issue of a vote of independence taking place somewhere north of Hadrian’s Wall.  To add to the litany of comments, perorations and asseverations made:

  • Will Andy Murray send back his OBE?
  • Will Murray Mound at Wimbledon be renamed/reclaimed by the English/handed over to the SNP who will then be responsible for paying the rates and council tax?
  • Will Judy Murray be the first to be told to hoof it stage left on Strictly Come Prancing? (And Anton thought that he had his work cut out with Anne Widdecombe).
  • Why could Gordon Brown not be such an orator when he was Prime Minister?
  • Who thought that Gordon Brown would play such a blinder (clearly none of his own party).
  • The democratic process does work; a near 90% turnout of the electorate is almost unheard of and cannot be argued as anything other than a true representation of the people.  America take note.
  • Why did Alex Salmond choose to liken himself to William Wallace when the latter was sent to meet his maker by King Edward I who had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.  Then again…
  • Will some generous spirited hair dresser please offer their services to the Deputy SNP leader?

Elsewhere this week, the headlines in one tabloid led with the death of a racehorse called Wigmore Hall.  Unfortunately the said horse broke a leg racing last weekend at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster and was swiftly and humanely destroyed.  Some charming individual took photos showing the moments pre and post mortem and the Daily Mirror saw fit to make it their lead story.  What it highlighted – other than the efficiency and professionalism of the team at Doncaster – was that if I had a choice I would choose to be a racehorse; well certainly if it was a choice between being a racehorse with a broken leg or someone who needed to be admitted to a hospital in Wales.  The story of the elderly lady from Swansea who died in the back of an ambulance outside Morriston Hospital whilst it waited for 45 minutes to get to the front of the queue of waiting ambulances was truly horrendous and leaves one despairing that it could ever happen.  This is no reflection on the skill or commitment of those directly involved in treating the lady, but a damning indictment of the shambolic administration of Welsh hospitals.  The Welsh hospitals run by the Welsh Assembly.  Do you still want to go it alone?

Here we go again…

This week, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and George Osborne’s best mate addressed the annual conference of the TUC. Confirming what we have said in many a previous blog, interest rates will not rise this autumn, but should increase in Spring 2015. Note the use of ‘should’, not, ‘will definitely’. Is that a General Election that I see looming on the horizon?  Amongst much banking gobble di gook and use of ‘data’,  Mr Carney praised the UK’s workers, who he said, “had not given up” during the recession, accepting pay cuts or shorter hours.  Indeed, well done them.  The more cynical may point out that of course he did the right thing, congratulating them on their earnest endeavour, but if they hadn’t accepted the shorter hours and wage cuts, somebody else would gladly have accepted them. As it should be; market forces and economies of scale.  I was drawn to his comment that, “There is a clear danger of a misplaced if not lost generation of workers in the euro area and in the UK.  Britain’s labour force and trade unions deserve great credit for ensuring the risk is much lower in the UK”.  Obviously the definition of the UK may well have changed by next week; best of luck with that one, Alex. Now forgive me, but was it not a union-backed Labour government that cajoled, dragged and led us with an appointed Messiah to the edge of the bottomless pit with the sign, (in both English and Welsh) proclaiming, ‘Recession this way’?

Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey said, “Mark Carney’s speech to the TUC was a missed opportunity to give hope to millions of working people…Mark Carney should have made a strong call to business and the corporate sector to take more responsibility for  providing greater employment opportunities, boosting pay levels…Britain needs a pay rise.” Just as Mr McCluskey got a pay-rise last year so that his salary now reads a penny either side of £140,281.  I’m with you all the way brother workers…

The media’s preoccupation with house prices continues unabated.  RICS published the results of a survey on Thursday that wailed in anguished tones that house prices in August had risen at the slowest pace in a year. 1.  They are still rising. 2. In August, a considerable chunk of the population are enjoying their summer break and historically the housing market in August has seen as much activity as Jabba the Hutt’s gym membership card.

The housing market continues to benefit many, including Richard Starkey – that’s Ringo Starr to the masses – who has decided to go and live in the USA with his former Bond girl wife (nice work if you can get it), having sold his Surrey mansion for a tidy profit.  For those of you bemoaning that a lack of skill is preventing your rise to a place on the Forbes Rich List, ponder this; on the Beatles first single ‘Love Me Do’, Ringo was demoted by the Beatles’ producer, George Martin to playing the tambourine as he wasn’t thought to be a good enough drummer. At a later date John Lennon was asked whether Ringo was the best drummer in the world, to which he offered in reply, “He isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.” Five decades, millions in the bank, mansions across the world and a former Bond girl as a wife later…

‘Bore Da’, or even ‘Magandang umaga’

Now don’t go and get your Welsh mixed up with your Filipino (or any other Austronesian language).  Not that you thought that you would be discussing language acquisition in a property blog.  Neither did I, until I found myself embroiled in a total fiasco over a phone line courtesy of that “British multinational telecommunications services company” [sic], British Telecom (the clue is in the title, beginning with ‘B’). Having yet another issue with our means of communicating with the outside world, I rang the number on the bill and got through to Anna, in the …Philippines. Together, we, (me as the customer, she as the customer service agent – an oxymoron if ever there was one), established that she could not help me so gave me the number of my ‘account team’ in Cardiff.  I rang the number, with a genuine Cardiff dialling code and was told to press 1 for English and 2 for Welsh.  I pressed 1 and got put through to- you’ve guessed it -the Philippines; who still could not provide any assistance or a solution to my problem.  So I rang the Cardiff number again and pressed 2 for Welsh and managed to speak with a living, breathing individual who would only speak Welsh and only broke with the mother tongue to tell me that he would only speak Welsh, not English. Duw fy bleeding helpu (translate that).

All the international conversing ironically meant that I could not make my ‘date’ with the Big O (of the Obama variety) at the Shobaraj last night.  I was going to pick him up in the car, as all the roads are empty and Newport is the town the world forgot (not for the first time).  At the roundabout at Junction 26, there were 30 police officers all stood around.  There are 5000 in town and tanks are parked on the fairways of the Celtic Manor. So much for my short game.  At least it will all be worthwhile, as the centre of Newport is regenerated thanks to the influx of foreign money.  Just like the benefits that are still resonating as a result of hosting the Ryder Cup…  When are they going to get rid of the “Host for the Ryder Cup 2010” off the road signs?

Continuing the international theme, Frankie Dettori has made it from the back pages to the front pages (and not for indulging in illegal substances).  Strictly speaking, it was the front page of the property section in last Saturday’s Torygraph, as he is selling his very lovely house for £2.45 million.  What I was drawn to was not the property specifications, but the standard of reporting by Max Davidson, who stated that “if you want a tip for the 4.20 at Uttoxeter you need to hang about the local pub” [sic]. Possible, but unlikely.  Frankie lives in Newmarket, the world-renowned centre and birthplace of flat-racing and Uttoxeter is a jumps only track in Staffordshire. I would wager that Frankie (and most of Newmarket) have never had any reason to go there or any interest in ever doing such.  Furthermore, Max comments how punters from “Ayr to Market Rasen” have backed a horse purely because the diminutive Italian was doing the steering. Ayr maybe, Market Rasen, definitely not.  Jumps only again, attention to detail Max.

This week’s competition prize to win a framed picture of me (second prize is two copies).

1. For what is Uttoxeter famous?

2. At which track DID Frankie ride in a hurdle race?

Modelling the latest outfit for lady foals

photo (2) This is Sparkle O’Hara. By Haafd out of Scarlett Rocks. Work it out