Saturday, 27 January 2007

From Football To Dreams To The Enigma Of House Prices To Umm Poetry

You are probably familiar with the American Dream and Martin Luther King's dream. Dreams - we all have them. From the little boy playing in the street to people in power with a lust for yet more power.

People with a lust for power will say anything if they think it will get them closer to their ultimate dream. Take the British Chancellor as an example. He's a clever guy, supposedly one of the most intelligent men in British politics today. Having never met the guy myself I can't confirm or deny this but I do know one thing for an intelligent man he can say some rather stupid things at times. The reason for saying such stupid things can only be explained by one thing and that is his dream and the closeness of fulfilling it. As he inches ever closer to getting his life's desire it seems that Gordon Brown (the Chancellor) will say anything if he thinks it will help him achieve his dream. It's the worst kept secret in British politics that GB has harboured ambitions for the top job. Being able to hold the post of Chancellor for 10 years would make a lot of politicians happy but Mr Brown has always wanted to be Prime Minister and living next door to his dream position has done nothing to quench his thirst. Over the past year it seems that as Mr Blair gets ever closer to retiring from the position of Prime Minister that Mr Brown is becoming increasingly worried that he might be too Scottish for the job. So instead of taking part in debate and showing the electorate that famous intellect of his, he has been talking football and said things like he supports both Scotland and England, and that the Paul Gascoigne's goal against Scotland in 1996 was one of his best moments.
Can it be true that he really supports Scotland and England at the same time? Umm, no. That's like saying you're a fan of both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. It's not allowed. What about the Paul Gascoigne goal then? That was a goal that had every Scots man, woman and child who had any interest in football holding his or her head in their hands whilst saying the words "Fuck, not again!" in unison. It was a beautiful, great goal if you were an Englishman. However if you were Scottish it was a living nightmare. Not only had Scotland moments earlier just missed a penalty that would have equalised the match but then England went down the other side of the pitch destroyed the defence and humilated the goalkeeper and all before the ball had hit the back of the net. Yes every Scotsman could recognise the sublime piece of skill that it took to score that goal but no Scotsman could truly say that they enjoyed the moment. Scots wil accept losing to any country but England. Its just our thing. We know we aren't very good, and don't expect to win every game against every nation we ever play against but if we beat England thats ok. We don't pretend to understand it, its just who we are. It's inbuilt in our psyche. And Gordon Brown calls himself a future Prime Minister? Pah!
When he says he says such statements other Scots just think he's let lust go to his head whilst I doubt any Englishman truly believes it would be credible for him as a Scotsman to like that Paul Gascoigne goal even if he himself was jumpng up and down with joy.
The thing is, he doesn't really need to say such statements.When Mr Blair finally does walk out of number 10 Downing Street its almost guaranteed that Mr Bown will walk in, as they aren't any other real suitable candidates for the job. Mr Brown has been a lucky Chancellor in that he got the position as the economy was on the up and has since been able to keep the economy ticking over due to the British dream of home ownership. It house prices that have been the real story behind the success of the British economy of the past decade. House prices have been crazy in recent years, people are willing to mortgage themselves to the hilt ie pay 5, 6 or even 7 times they annual salary (recommended level for a mortgage is 3.5 times the annual slary) to become part of the British dream club of home ownership. As a result prices for homes have reached silly prices, and just the other day I heard on BBC Radio 2 (one of the few stations I can hear in the back of beyond) that a garage in London is for sale for £100,000, thats US $199,000. Ouch! Thats a hefty price to pay for somewhere to put your second hand car.
Me, I can't even dream of getting on the property ladder
because I am a property loser. I am to real estate billions what Donald Trump is to modern hairstyling. I missed the boat. I am not going to risk paying for something for 25 years at the cost of 7 times my annual salary.
Every day there seems to be
two stories about house prices and they appear to say the exact opposite of one another. "Knowledge is power,'' Sir Francis Bacon said, although I should point out he was an idiot. What Sir Francis forgot to mention was that too much knowledge is about as helpful as Jade Goody on the board of the Commission for Racial Equality.
On the one hand, I have read a story this week that says house prices in Scotland will continue to rise at 15% a year until the end of time. By my calculations, this would means that in 2025 a three-bedroom semi in Carmunnock would cost approximately £5.6m while a one-bedroom flat in the West End would be the same price as the Island of Mauritus.
On the other hand, I read another story which suggested the property price-equity yield ratio (or was it the price property-yield equity ratio?) was tanking.

I had no idea what this meant. An estate agent quoted in this story was able to explain. "Don't worry. Keep buying houses. In fact, I've got a lovely studio cupboard in Dowanhill - six foot by 10 foot - and it's yours for only £300,000." You see what the problem is: which story should we believe, the one on this hand, or the one on that hand? Fortunately, on special occasions such as this I am able to use my left foot to scratch my head as I think. Especially when I think about property prices.

But that shouldn't worry Gordon Brown because under his direction of the economy and the British obsession, sorry, I mean dream of home ownership most people have down quite well, House prices have risen by 120% in less than 6 years and whilst prospective first time buyers can no longer afford to buy, people who do already own one house are buying a second to rent out at inflated prices to those who can't buy. The British public don't really care what their politicians think about football as long as they don't lose their dream of owning a home or two. They aren't going to forget who helped them get rich but they might well tell him to take a hike if they think he's not being entirely honest. On a week that just saw Burn's night come and go, Gordon Brown would have done well to remember the Robert Burns poem about the importance of a man's honesty.

A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest poverty
That hings his head, an a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by -
We dare be poor for a that!
For a' that, an a' that!
Our toils obscure, an a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.
What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hodden grey, an a' that?
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine -
A man's a man for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
Their tinsel show, an a' that,
The honest man, tho e'er sae poor,
Is king o men for a' that.
Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an stares, an a' that?
Tho hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a cuif for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
His ribband, star, an a' that,
The man o independent mind,
He looks an laughs at a' that.
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an a' that!
But an honest man's aboon his might -
Guid faith, he mauna fa' that!
For a' that, an a' that,
Their dignities, an a' that,
The pith o sense an pride o worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that),
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.

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