I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I am going to call her Tabitha for the very simple reason that we have never had a Tabitha walk through our doors. Tabitha as a name doesn’t play very big here in Dumfries. I doubt if it plays very big anywhere. Which I guess makes it a pretty decent choice as a false identity.

So we have been seeing Tabitha for ten years now. When she first came in she was in the last knockings of her teenage years, From the get go she had one of those larger than usual personalities. A room would never be a dull place with Tabitha in it. Laughter was never far away. A smile was more or less a permanent fixture. I bet she was a nightmare for her teachers. She would have been at the heart of any classroom mischief. But I doubt if they would have disliked her. Instead they would have been exasperated with her. And of course she was always nailed on to hook herself a ‘bad boy’ boyfriend from the back of the bus. Or from that place by the bins where illicit fags were smoked. Or from the bus shelter outside the Spar shop where the blue valium pills were washed down with cheap cider.

Back in the days when millions marched against the impending Iraq war, a Dumfries ‘bad boy’ boyfriend was a surefire ticket to ride the heroin train all the way down to the gutter. Tabitha bought that particular ticket and took the slide from the mischief of her teenage years to the bleakness of her early twenties.

Yet no matter how dark her life became, she never quite lost her smile. Her instinctive sunny personality always found a way to shine through. She stayed larger than life and never adopted the nastiness of the drug world.

The years rolled by and a few lines appeared on her face. Methadone helped her to climb out of the day to day squalor of heroin and slowly but surely she found some stability. She got herself a flat. She disengaged from those she needed to disengage from. She collected support workers. She hid from the world and watched daytime TV and read books and ate too much sweet stuff.

The support workers did what support workers did in the days before the storm when Blair and Brown threw cash at everything and told us it would all last forever. They accompanied her to her GP and spoke on her behalf. They explained how she was depressed and anxious and isolated. And her GP gave her the requisite five minutes and no doubt put on a sympathetic smile and wrote script after script. Anti depressants and sleeping pills and all manner of supposed chemical solutions. And of course there was always the most important bit of scribbling…

The sick note.

Tabitha is anxious.

Tabitha is very down.

Tabitha finds it hard to leave the house.

They all followed the popular solution of the Blair/Brown lunacy. Get her signed off sick. Except they didn’t call it the sick any more. By now it was called Employment Support Allowance. In terms of pounds, shillings and pence, it meant another thirty quid a week. In terms of dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s, it meant that Tabitha only had to sign on the dotted line once a month. A five minute job.

In, sign, out.

Job done. All set for another month.

It helped everyone to tick their boxes. Oh Tabitha’s is doing fine. Great. Super. She takes her methadone once a day like a very, very good girl and it has been absolutely ages since she has appeared in court. We are all terrifically pleased. And all they had to do to keep their stats in line was to rustle her up once a month and take her along to sign on the dotted line.

In, sign, out.

Super duper.

So for years she hid away and watched her daytime TV. Once a day she would take the trip to the chemist for her methadone. Once a month her support workers would take her along to sign.

They parked her up along with all the hundreds of thousands of others. And slowly but surely, the loneliness and the isolation and the sheer constant boredom of her life started to age her. To dull her down. To make her big smile less convincing. To reduce her.

And then everything changed and the Tony and Gordon’s Disneyland crashed to the floor like a demolished cooling tower. And all of a sudden, panic set in. She said that she was going to have to go for a medical and the word was out that the Government’s French doctors weren’t taking any prisoners.

They didn’t.

She came in with a face wracked with panic. ‘I’ve failed my medical’. Then her expression morphed into astonishment when I said ‘Halle-bloody- lujah’.

You see for years First Base has been the voice in the wilderness pointing out what should have been screamingly obvious. Well it was to us. We went on and on and on at her. For Christ’s sake Tabitha. What kind of life is this? Hiding away and allowing yourself to be dulled down by all those happy pills? No life. A grey life. A twilight life. Sure you’re depressed. Who wouldn’t be? Think about it. What would make you less depressed? Having a reason to get out of bed. A job. Some self respect. A stage to be larger than life on. New pals whose life doesn’t revolve around ‘The Brown’. Invitations to barbeques and holidays and all the trappings of a life.

Every time she would leave the Agency with a spring in her step making noises about a fresh start. Then her support workers would get their hooks back in and put on their sugary patronising voices and speak to her as if she was six. Oh no Tabitha. That isn’t a god idea at all. You’re not ready you see. You’re still too fragile. Best leave it a while. Best not to rush things.


Tabitha’s great. Super. A success story. Pats on the head all round. Park her up. In the brave Britain of Tony and Gordon, non-people were good people. Bung them a few extra quid and pay their rent and dose them on a daily diet of free happy pills and everything is hunky dory.

But like I said. Everything changed. The French doctors took a different view. They told Tabitha that she was fine to work. No more comfort zone. Tony and Gordon had exited stage left. There were new Sheriffs in town.

She told me with tears staining her cheeks that she had failed her medical. And I asked her if she had even begun to consider how completely ridiculous that statement was. What do you mean she asked? Well think about it. When most people go to the doctor and wait on tenter hooks for the test results to come back, they are overjoyed if those results prove to be negative. Most people consider being told that they are OK to be good news. How crazy is it to have got yourself into a place where you think passing a medical means being told that you are sick?

And then we had the usual conversation. Get yourself into the people running the Work Programme. Show them a positive frame of mind. Get your game face on. March in there and tell them that you are completely and absolutely employable. Let them know that you have what it takes. Show them your people skills. Shout it from the roof tops. Come on guys. I’m your dream client. I get along with everyone. Young and old and rich and poor and black and white. Retail, hospitality, sales, anything you like. And I really thought that she bought into it. More to the point, it seemed as if she had no choice but to buy into it.

Fat chance.

That was two years ago and those support workers were not even nearly ready to let her go. Not a chance. They told her that what was being done by the French doctors was a disgrace. They told her that it wasn’t fair. They told her that she absolutely wasn’t ready for work. They told her that they would help her to appeal the decision. They promised that they would bust an absolute gut to help her to stay sick.

So she appealed it.

And whilst she waited, she had her benefits halved and kept body and soul together with food parcels and daytime TV and the heating switched way down low.

The appeal came and went.

And the French doctors didn’t budge an inch. They said she was fine to work. And we said she was fine to work. And the support workers said she was not fine to work. And they encouraged her to appeal again. So she appealed again. And the French doctors rejected her appeal again….

It has been going on for two years now and Tabitha is onto her fifth appeal. And still the support workers keep telling her she is too sick to work. And the number one goal in her life is to convince those French doctors that she is too sick to work. There is nothing else. She has put her life on a £40 a week hold for the sake of the dream of being sick.

The problem is that if everyone tells you that you are sick and you really want to be sick, then in the end you will probably manage to make yourself sick. In the end every last scrap of that larger than life sunny personality will be wrung dry. Leaving an empty shell.

Not that the French doctors will ever change their minds.

How many times will she appeal their decision? And for how many years? And one day she will come in for a food parcel and I will no longer be able to encourage her to break free and find a new life to walk into.

The chance will have been and gone and there will be nothing left of the girl who drove her teachers to distraction. Instead there will be an empty shell. A name on a list. A tick in a box.

And after years and years and years, Tabitha will indeed be too sick to work.      

Tuesday, September 17, 2013




As a result of the significant growth in demand we have seen for emergency food from across the region, The First Base Agency is now working towards making our food parcels available for collection from a series of new collection points.

-          From 123October, food parcels can be collected from
-    Annan CAN, Unit 13, Silverlaw Industrial Estate, Annan
-     Moffat CAN, 15 Annanside, Moffat.
Action for Children, Kirkfield, Greystone Rd, Kelloholm - 01659 66135 - 9am to 5pm

-          Over the next few weeks we plan to make food parcels available for collection from the following libraries – Castle Douglas, Kirkudbright, Dalbeattie, Thornhill, Sanquhar, Lockerbie, Gretna and Langholm.

-          We will circulate the news of food parcel availability in these libraries as and when they come on stream.

-          Apex Stranraer will be covering Wigtownshire.

-          Any worker supporting any individual or family is welcome to refer their client to any of our collection points to collect a food parcel or food parcels.

-          Each food parcel contains enough food to provide three meals a day for an individual for four days.
-      Each parcel contains the following items.


-          In each parcel we provide a suggested meal plan which helps the client to use the food items to provide three meals per day for four days.
BREAKFAST                                 CEREAL AND MILK
LUNCH                                           TOMATO PASTA, CUP OF SOUP, BISCUITS
DINNER                                         MEATBALLS + INSTANT MASHED POTATO
                                                         STRAWBERRY WHIP
BREAKFAST                                 CEREAL AND MILK
LUNCH                                           NOODLES, A CUP OF SOUP, BISCUITS
DINNER                                         BAKED BEANS + SAVOURY RICE
BREAKFAST                                 CEREAL AND MILK
LUNCH                                           TOMATO PASTA, CUP OF SOUP, BISCUITS
DINNER                                         SPAGHETTI + SAVOURY RICE
                                                        RICE PUDDING
BREAKFAST                                 CEREAL AND MILK
LUNCH                                           NOODLES, CUP OF SOUP, BISCUITS
DINNER                                         SPAGHETTI + INSTANT MASHED POTATO
We have included a plastic cup in the box to help you make sure that your milk will last the four days. Use one cup of milk for each bowl of cereal and one cup for the Strawberry Whip.


-          If a worker is supporting a family they should request on food parcel for each family member.

-          We will be enclosing information about where a client can seek help with their difficulties in each parcel. If you would like information about your organisation to be included in the parcels please contact Mark Frankland at First Base


-          Fill in the attached online referral form. It is vital that we know how many parcels are required and which collection point is most appropriate. The basic information on the form enables us to generate reports highlighting where there is most demand and to give a picture of why people are finding themselves in hardship.

-          E Mail the completed form to

-          We can take telephone referrals for the following day on 01387 279680 Monday – Friday between 12 and 2pm. In these cases we will fill in the form.

-          We have a cut off point of 4pm for food parcels to be collected on the following day – Parcels are not available on Saturdays and Sundays.

-          When we receive e mails we will forward them on to the nominated collection site.

-          The collection sites will print out all referral forms at the beginning of each working day and have them waiting when the client arrives at the collection site.

-          When the client arrives, their details will be matched to a referral form and the parcel will be issued.

-          We will not issue any parcels unless there is a referral form bearing the client’s details.


Sunday, September 15, 2013


I saw a poll last week that gave the ‘Yes’ campaign for an independent Scotland a 1% lead. The last time I looked, the ‘No’s’ had it by a country mile. Is this phenomenal turnaround any kind of surprise? Not in the slightest.

In an era of such abject political mediocrity, Alex Salmond stands out like a Giant Redwood among a field of saplings. It is hard to imagine how far behind he would have to be for the ‘No’ campaign to feel any kind of confidence of success. A few weeks before the last Scottish Elections he was 20 points adrift, but when the ballots were counted he won by a country mile.

I am no kind of betting man, but if I was, it would be a no brainer as to where punt my cash. Not only is Salmond the stand out politician of his generation in terms of getting ballots into boxes, the line up who are going try and take him down are not even close to being in the same league.

All of which makes it seem more than likely that Scotland will be on its own in a year’s time. It occurred to me the other day that I have now spent a third of my life up here as a White Settler. I am now a well and truly established immigrant. My English roots do not deny me the chance to have a vote on Scotland’s future and, unless something changes in a big way, that vote is almost certainly going to be ‘yes’.


I guess when you have lived most of your life down in England it makes it easy to appreciate all the stuff that is so much better up here. A few years ago my dad wound up in a Wigan hospital having had a stroke. I couldn’t believe the state of the place when I went to see him. When compared to hospitals up here, it was Third World minus. Whenever I give presentations in English schools they seem like peeling, dismal places when compared to schools up here. There is less traffic, you can see the stars in the sky, you can park your car with worrying about it getting nicked or set on fire. It seems like more and more people down south are starting to notice all this stuff. They are picking up on the fact that whenever the news carries a story about yet another NHS crisis or some horrendous abuse in a Private Equity owned chain of childrens homes, it is always prefixed by the statement ‘….in England and Wales’. Whenever we travel south, we get asked questions like ‘how come you lot get free prescriptions and free university tuition and free care for the elderly?’ Why indeed? I can’t pretend to have many of the answers, but it is pretty damn crystal clear that the railroad is much better run once you find yourself north of Gretna Green.

As a born and bred Lancastrian, I have an instinctive loathing of the South East of England and all who sail in her. My formative years were spent in the 70’s and 80’s when the North was sent to hell in a handcart and no-one in London seemed to give a damn. In fact, they seemed to find the whole thing amusing. I spent many an afternoon penned into the away sections of Stamford Bridge or White Hart Lane or Upton Park being spat on by hordes of leering Cockneys, every one of whom had made a point of bringing a £20 note to the game to wave in our faces.

“…. Hey Rock n’ Roll…. Scousers on the dole…..”

How hilarious.

For me this is the biggest difference. In many ways, Dumfries and Galloway is every much of a backwater up here as Lancashire is down there. The difference is that the Government in Edinburgh can’t afford to ignore us the way that Northerners are ignored by Westminster. We are a tiny independent charity based in a small, sleepy town and yet it has always been possible to make our voice heard. Over the years we have been invited to give the view from the frontline of things to Parliamentary Committees four times. Many politicians have also come down to see us to get a pavement level view of what’s going down. In our time we have played host to the First Minister, two party leaders, the Education Minister and the Parliament’s Presiding Officer. This would never happen in a million years in England. It’s the beauty of living in a country of 5 million. Things are more connected. Easier to run properly. And it is more than possible to make your voice heard.

So a life-long contempt for the leafy suburbs of Surrey and all those insufferable Etonians in the shining towers of the City and the bloated Billionaires of Belgravia is my main reason of sticking up two fingers in a southerly direction and putting my cross in the ‘yes’ box.

But there is no point in pretending that there isn’t a healthy amount of selfishness in my ‘yes’ vote. Salmond is smart enough and streetwise enough to make the place rock over the coming years. Even before I came up here to live, I would always say I was from Scotland when travelling around the world. Say ‘England’ and most people think ‘London’ and they hate your guts. Say ‘Scotland’ and a big grin appears on their faces. You only need to look at the different experiences that English and Scottish fans have when they travel abroad. When the English come to town, every door is locked, every bar is closed and lines of riot police complete with snarling dogs represent the nearest thing there is to a welcoming committee. When the Scots hit town everyone takes to the streets for party time.

Just imagine how the French will be. They’ll be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of an independent Scotland. Just imagine how much pleasure it will give to those in the corridors of power in Paris to help make Scotland boom at the expense of London. And the French will not be alone in this. Ever since Maggie rubbed our European neighbours up the wrong way back in the day, there are many in Europe who will relish the chance at getting some revenge eaten cold on the arrogant public school boys of Whitehall.
Ever noticed what they play when there is a huge police funeral in Philadelphia or Baltimore? Bagpipes. All over the world there is a fondness for Scotland. Sometimes this down to watching ‘Braveheart’ of ‘Whisky Galore’ or ‘Rob Roy’. Sometimes it’s down to having a surname beginning with Mac. There are a tonne of reasons and you can bet your bottom dollar that Alex Salmond will exploit every single last one of them.

I gather that he has all kinds of cunning tax plans up his sleeve ready and waiting for the day when the cord is cut. Scotland will be the new Ireland with Corporation Tax as low if not lower than any in Europe. And here is where he will surely hit the ball out of the park. Over the next fifty years, most of the money in the world will continue to flow out East. Let’s imagine a Chinese mogul taking a look around Europe to find the best place to site his new assembly plant complete with 500 jobs. First up, he’ll compile a list of the places with the lowest tax regimes and Scotland will be up there at the top. And then he’ll have a little smile to himself. The odds are that like most East Asians, two of his most favourite things in life will be whisky and golf. So he’ll create a mental picture of his regular visits to his new assembly plant. A flight into Edinburgh. An easy ride out to a big pile of a house in the hills where the air is a trillion times less polluted that his home air in Shanghai. He’ll picture sipping an old malt in front of a stacked up log fire. He’ll picture himself striding down the 17th at St Andrews like Tiger Woods. He’ll picture taking photos of his son graduating from Edinburgh University. And all the other names will soon be crossed off the list.

Of course as a long term fifty a day man, I would just love it if Alex decided to seriously piss off London and adopt a Luxembourg pricing strategy for fags. Imagine that! Every weekend thousands and thousands of cars from Manchester and Liverpool and Leeds and Newcastle would come piling over the border to stock up on tabs at £3.50 a pack. Gazilions of extra tax for Edinburgh and seething rage in Whitehall.

It is ironic really. When it came to doing the very dirtiest of the Empire’s work, the Scots were always front and centre. A majority of estate managers in the slave plantations of the West Indies spoke with a Scottish twang. History’s two greatest ever drug dealers who managed to get the nation of China hopelessly hooked on opium were Jardine and Mathieson, fine Scotsmen both. But for one reason or another, this somewhat uncomfortable fact seems to have been quietly airbrushed from history. The blame for all the bad stuff we Brits have done over the years now lies squarely in London whilst the Scots are seen as all nice and cuddly and blameless. Well, no-one is complaining up here.

So in my very humble opinion, a low tax Scotland with Alex Salmond at the helm will be a place that with boom and keep on booming. Quiet roads, well educated people, low crime, clean air, whisky and golf courses and all the sweeteners in the world for any business wanting to locate here. London will hate it and no doubt there will be those who will dream of going back to the good old days and sending the army up to Carlisle.
But will London suffer? Not really. The City of London will still launder cash for any crook with a suitcase full of it. Tourists will still flock in to buy replica models of Big Ben made in China. Russian Billionaires will still pay tens of millions for their mansions in Hampstead complete with razor wire and underground cinemas and pools.

This is the point at which my emotions become mixed. London and the South East will not pay the price for a booming Scotland. London and the South east will become a permanent gated community where the immigrants work for buttons and the poor are despised and the super rich are fawned over and pampered. And the Express and the Daily Mail will have the same front page every day where they report yet anther 10% increase in London property prices with breathless excitement.

Sadly the price will be paid yet again by the North of England with its worthless minority of Labour MPs who will become yesterdays men once an Independent Scotland deprives them of the votes they need to stand a chance of ever holding power again. What chance will Lancashire or Yorkshire or Humberside or Tyneside have of attracting that new Chinese assembly plant and all the jobs that go with it? No chance. Competing with a booming, low tax Scotland will be completely impossible. And all the kids of the north who do well in school and university will start to get on the bus and head north instead of south to seek their futures in the new Caledonia.

For all of us who live up here, the future looks pretty damn good. I only wish that the price won’t have to be paid by the North of England.

But it will be.           

Friday, September 6, 2013


I bought my first house in 1986. It was no kind of earth shattering event. Our animal feed business was new and struggling and my days were spent on a digger mixing cow food and loading wagons. It was a dusty kind of way to earn what was basically the equivalent of today’s minimum wage. I guess my wages back then must have been about £7000 a year.

So what? So what indeed,

Well. So this,

The house I bought was a traditional northern two bedroom terrace in Lancaster. It was a decent sort of place with a long back garden that climbed up the hill towards the park at the top of the town. From the highest point of the lawn you got a long view over the rooftops to the glistening waters of Morecambe Bay. It was a fine spot to catch the sunset with a few cold cans.

The details of my purchase make for interesting reading in the cold light of 2013. I was 26. My salary gave me the chance to take a mortgage of up to £22,500. 26 Grasmere Rd cost me £21,000 and I needed to borrow £1000 from my mum and dad for a deposit leaving a mortgage of £20,000. I could have bought a cheaper place had I so wished. I small terrace without a view in a rougher part of town would have set me back £15,000. A flat in the worst part of town would have left change from ten grand.

Paying the mortgage was no big deal. It was about half the cost of renting and rents were hardly high. After the monthly direct debit exited my account, I was always left with plenty of cash to run a car, go the match and ride the train up and down to London most weekends when Liverpool were playing away.

Looking at what an hour’s work at minimum wage could buy you back then makes for interesting reading. Depressing reading. A place on the Kop to watch the European Champions. The price of entry to most gigs. Eight pints of ale. Eight litres of fuel. Three packs of fags. My mortgage cost me 30 hours of cash.

So fast forward.

My equivalent 26 year old in Lancaster on minimum wage is now earning £12000 a year. If he is a graduate like I was, then he is already saddled with twenty grand’s worth of debt for the dubious privilege of having a degree certificate tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Maybe he is fed up with being fleeced by his ‘buy to let’ landlord and decides the time has come to get a place of his own. His minimum wage packet is enough to get him a mortgage of up to £40,000, though he’ll have to come up with £8000 or so as a deposit. So on a sunny Autumnal day my man takes a walk up the hill to Grasmere Rd and likes what he sees. It’s a quiet sort of street within easy walking distance of the town centre. Sound as a pound.

So he heads back home to pop the postcode into Google.




As in four times more than he can even think of buying. As in not a cat in hell’s chance. And my man will soon enough discover that he hasn’t a cat in hell’s chance of buying so much as a broom cupboard with the kind of mortgage he can get his hands on.

Were anyone on minimum wage actually able to get themselves the £150,000 mortgage they would need to buy 26 Grasmere Rd, it would take 141 hours of work per month to cover the payments. That would leave 39 hours for everything else. £60 a week to clothe and feed themselves, pay the gas and electric and Council tax. And the TV licence. No chance.

This all goes to show what a miserable short straw today’s young people have drawn. The standard of living my generation enjoyed has turned into a complete pipe dream. At the time, the 1980’s were seen as a grindingly hard time as Maggie Thatcher took such delight in smashing the North to pieces. When you compare those times to today, they seem like some kind of lost dream era.

All of this makes the fact headlined at the top of the blog all the more jaw dropping.

So. The fact. The killer fact.

In the 13 years when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were in charge of the shop, house prices in the UK went up by 300%.  Fair enough. We know this. And we know that those who were lucky enough to own a house before the raging inflation kicked in were suddenly able to borrow money hand over fist on the back our their bricks and mortar security. We know that millions of Brits used their bricks and mortar as cash machines and spent and spent and spent. DIY shops boomed. And wine bars boomed. And coffee shops boomed. And we borrowed and borrowed to buy German cars and Japanese electrical goods and French clothes and Chinese tat and American burgers.

And night after night Tony and Gordon would appear on the tele to tell us how completely brilliant they were. They were the new miracle men at the helm of Cool Britannia, the land of milk and honey where nobody ever made everything but everyone was entitled to credit enough to hit the town on a Friday night and throw up in the gutter.

There was a perceived wisdom that the rocketing rise in house prices was an unstoppable force. This is what happened in a country as hip and booming as Tony and Gordon’s Britain. Like Maggie once said, you can’t buck the market. Of course you can’t! The market is king. The market is everything. The market is God. The market was Gordon and Tony’s wet dream.

And we bought it. All of us. We bought it on tick. On the never, never. And why wouldn’t we? You don’t buck the market. You can’t. You go with it. You bow and scrape to it. You worship it…

After all the same story was being played out all over the Western world. It was our reward. Our due. Our payback for investing in all those nukes and fast jets and seeing of the demonic threat of Bolshevik communism.

But here’s the thing.

The big lie.

The killer fact.

In the thirteen years that Tony and Gordon held the reigns, the price of an average house in Germany fell by 5%. It didn’t go up by 300%. It fell by 5%. One way or another those clever, clever Germans did the supposedly impossible and bucked the market. Instead of filling their boots with Asian gadgets care of a walletful of credit cards, they simply got one with making their cars and machines and wore a wry and knowing smile on their faces as they watched the crowing antics of Tony and Gordon.

If 26 Grasmere Rd had been in a small German town it would cost about £40,000 today. My 2013 minimum wage German equivalent would be able to buy it every bit as easily as I did back in 1986. Except he wouldn’t buy it. Most Germans have little interest in buying property. Instead they prefer to rent on a long term basis from excellent landlords who are strictly governed. A German version of 26 Grasmere Rd would command a rent of about £100 a month: 16 hours a month of work. Today’s German equivalent of 1986 me has about £230 a week left to spend after paying his rent and it costs him a tenner to go to the match.

So Tony and Gordon boasted and boasted that they were God’s gift as they poured petrol on the flames of a raging house market and they basked in the glory of fifty millions of Brits spending up to the limit on credit cards secured by fantasy house prices. The result? A bloody disaster. Germany conclusively proves that the market was there to be bucked.

Managed. Controlled. Tamed. Bossed.

And who is having the last laugh?

Well, it ain’t us. That’s as clear as clear can be.

But hang on a sec…. for once I use up those last remaining pounds on my credit card to get smashed out of my head tonight, I will remember what is most important. Because at midnight on a Friday night we Brits are really good at remembering what is important. How does the song go?

‘…. Two World Wars and one World Cup, do-da do-da-day!!!!!

Good old Grasmere Rd, Lancaster.
Once upon a time it was a place where the working man could afford to live....