Graph of real house prices in the United Kingd...

Graph of real house prices in the United Kingdom, adjusted for changes in the ONS’s Retail Price Index. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5 hours ago near London

Good morning. At 0810, house prices are rising again – a clear sign of a turnaround in the property market? At 0750, prescriptions for Ritalin and other performance-enhancing drugs have increased by 56% in five years. And at 0730, there will be protests today, at various railway stations, against higher rail fares. With Evan Davis and Justin Webb.


LIVE: Tuesday’s Today programme

A rundown of stories from Tuesday 13 August including programme highlights and comment.

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  • Marko Pubdad All this talk of “good news” because house prices have gone up, is surely only good news if you are selling yours! and even then presumably you have to buy another that has gone up as well! all it does is take the possibility of home ownership further away from people that have had their wages frozen or reduced! in addition it puts even more pressure on the already over inflated and in short supply rented sector! not good news in my book! and just serves to prove just how out of touch these presenters, reporters and politicians are!!
    4 hours ago · Like · 6 
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  • Allan Atkinson never could stomach the Tory alignment of ‘property owning’ and ‘democracy’… and current increases in London owe more than a little to foreigners buying flats off-plan
    4 hours ago · Like · 4 
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  • David Norris I agree that rising property values is not good news. High housing costs is perhaps the principal reason why so many people are in financial difficulties, and it will get worse when eventually interest rates start to rise. We can only hope that the rise will encourage an increase in supply.
    4 hours ago · Like · 5 
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  • Helen Avery Please hurry back, JH; these two are beyond irritating..
    4 hours ago · Like · 2 
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  • Stuart Aylmer When/if the bubble bursts what new liabilities will have to be met by the taxpayer under the mortgage guarantee scheme? Interests rates can rise and prices can fall. Will we be shovelling public money to private speculators again?
    4 hours ago · Like · 2 
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  • Alice Fearns House prices rise when already 30% of the population don’t earn enough to buy – a land grab by companies building up a rental stock, so we are going back to the poverty of Victorian England. Wasn’t the crash caused by a real estate bubble? Sadly, no political party will tackle the real problems because all their financial consultants are making millions out of the poverty of most of the population
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 6 
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  • Alice Fearns Why does nobody point out that with higher rail fares, the unemployed can’t afford to get to interviews? and no, the companies helping them back to work don’t pay, it would have to come out of their profit margins – another government scam
  • Marcus Carding Agree with most other comments. It’s not higher property prices that the country needs, but more well-built, affordable housing. It’s pretty clear now that the market is not going to provide, so we more than ever need a planned programme of housebuilding by the government. I agree that we should not want to build over anymore of the countryside than we need to, but neither should we fetishise ‘green belt’. With no signs of a slowdown in population growth, we may have to accept that towns will go on encroaching into rural areas. Finding some way of harmonising human habitation more with its environment may be the only long-term solution which does not mean concrete’ing over the landscape.
    2 hours ago · Like
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  • Rob Kenyon “house prices are rising again – a clear sign of a turnaround in the property market?” No. Just a dose of castor oil working on a patient still addicted to hard-boiled eggs. Don’t build Shards and other billionaire playthings, build homes for people.
    about an hour ago · Unlike · 1 
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  • Julius Bannister Build houses, pure and simple. Hire British workers to build them. Use British materials perhaps? It is odd that we are often told that we’ll have to build 5 new towns the size of Birmingham over the next few years. Why? Oh yeah, that’s right….
    53 minutes ago · Unlike · 1 
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  • Sandi Dunn Aren’t most of the London flat/house purchasers billionaires domiciled in Singapore China etc buying ‘off plan’ (where our money seems to have ended up thanks to the wonders of global capitalism). They don’t know where next to ‘invest’ their fraudulently gained wealth, so, it seems, ‘buy to let’ is the thing in ‘no rules’ UK – with the bottom line promise that their rent charges eventually will be picked up by British Taxpayers via rent subsidies – even for those working! Otherwise, it seems we are heading for shanty towns in a city ‘donut’, which actually already exists in London environs… known as ‘Shed Bed lettings’) … Osbourne, Brown et al could not have thought of a more stupid system if they’d tried. Who can we vote for next time round is a real problem don’t you think?

re whistleblowers’ plight: Assange, Manning and Snowdon but is being studiously ignored by BBC it seems – I wonder why? Snowdon’s father on American TV ABC


Part of the cupola above the tea-room at the P...

Part of the cupola above the tea-room at the Printemps department store in Boulevard Haussmann, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: North sidewalk of the Avenue des Cham...

English: North sidewalk of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris, at dawn, featuring Christmas decoration lights. Français : Trottoir nord de l’avenue des Champs-Elysées, à Paris, avec ses décorations de Noël. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Granny’s Gone CouchSurfing’… to Paris.

Sandi Dunn London E8


Tel: 07412 394149

Hotel de Ville



‘Granny’s Gone CouchSurfing’… to Paris  

(Mid-winter 2012/ 2013)

1,217 words

Among other clichés, I was a hippy child of the sixties. These days, I’m characterised (written off perhaps) as an ‘elderly’ baby boomer.

Finding myself relatively free of family responsibilities (barring emergency babysitting for my darling grand kids in order that their parents can carry on building up capitalism – unhindered by family needs (sic)) I’m now able to travel and have adventures…and in so doing I’ve discovered the joys of worldwide CouchSurfing.

‘To make meaningful connections with local people whilst travelling’ is CouchSurfing’s founding principle, which chimes nicely with my own worldview. No money changes hands even though one is often offered a room rather than just a couch. The important thing about making CouchSurfing work is ‘give and take’ meaning that members should act as hosts as well as guests (though not necessarily reciprocally).  It’s a ‘what goes around comes around’ philosophy. According to Wikipedia (January 2013), there are over five million CouchSurfers registered and verified on the website.

So, I’m just back from a mid winter, long weekend of CouchSurfing in Paris, where Claudine a feisty secondary school art teacher, in her late 50’s, hosted me for three nights.  Her apartment is in one of those characteristic, purpose built, Parisian blocks, behind a hefty, secure front door conveniently next to Metro Ledru Rollin, near the Bastille.  “I’m up in the maid’s garret on the 6th floor,” she’d replied to my text. “Take the lift to the fifth then walk up.”

Ignoring the lift I ascended the polished oak stairs, stopping on each landing to catch my breath. The staircase wound around the lift in its narrow shaft. It was a tiny caged affair for one plus luggage – typical of these buildings. While perfectly safe I’m reluctant to use them. Anyway, I had only essentials in a small backpack – plus my lightweight, beloved laptop of course!

Arriving at Claudine’s door I found it ajar.  Calling out “bonjour”, I entered. She scuttled down the hallway to greet me with a big welcoming smile. Showing me to her son’s room she sighed, saying: “he’s thirty now – living and teaching in Amsterdam.” In essence the room was a teenager’s room – a shrine of sorts.  Art posters and drawings adorned the walls; a dusty bookshelf revealed the reading taste of a budding intellectual – as her son has turned out to be, she told me with a laugh.

I rummaged for the gift I’d brought, as advised as a nice gesture on the CouchSurfers website. It was a jar of London honey purchased from a beekeeper friend with hives in Finsbury Park. Claudine was impressed.

There were no windows in her attic flat, just skylights. The small living room was cluttered in a bohemian, cosy way with clothes, books, paintings and papers in piles. While Claudine bustled in the kitchenette making tea, Boogie, her cat, mooched and sniffed at various heaps before choosing her bed. Over tea we chatted: luckily Claudine’s English was superior to my French. She issued a warning that as it was school vacation time, she liked to spend much of the day in bed: so please could I try not to wake her in the morning. I took note…

My main reason for visiting Paris was to attend a concert written and conducted by musician friend John Meldrum: A Peace Oratorio, ‘La Vie de Martin Luther King en Chansons’. I’d enjoyed being a member of John’s choir during an earlier sojourn in Paris some years earlier. John, an expat American has lived in Paris for 20 years. While classically trained, his music now is a unique blend of rock, jazz and gospel. His Oratorio was being staged that Saturday evening at the Alhambra Theatre.

I passed my days pleasantly just wandering around, breakfasting in the sumptuous restaurant of department store Printemps Haussmann, under the beautiful, art nouveau, stained-glass cupola, exploring St Paul’s labyrinthine quartier also The Marais – neighbouring medieval areas that survived the modernisation of Paris as carried out by Napoleon the Third’s architect Haussmann.

A large free of charge ice-rink, built for the mid winter season each year, still occupied the large square in front of Hotel de Ville (Paris’ Town Hall); I stopped and hung over the fence to enjoy the antics of some hoody speed skaters spinning and jumping around the main rink. Down the other end, equally entertaining, were the beginners  stumbling around in their own separate area.

As dusk fell I found myself in the Champs-Élysées where a magnificent display of Christmas lighting still lit up its full length.

I invited Claudine to join me for John’s concert. It felt sad not to be a part of it, never the less I sung along especially to the uplifting, rousing numbers. It was a full house. After several encores and much cheering and clapping, we stayed on to mingle with the choir members in the foyer and to drink a celebratory glass of wine with them.

A firm favourite Paris landmark is the unique Shakespeare & Company bohemian bookshop cum community centre opened in 1951 by expat American, George Whitman. George died age 98 in 2011.  I’m so proud to say I’d met him occasionally at his Sunday afternoon tea parties. “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise” was his motto and is there written large on a wall inside the shop.  It neatly sums up George’s ideals. His daughter, Silvia Beach Whitman now carries on his work. For decades, bookish, penniless romantics – mostly young American males it seems – have worked here voluntarily sleeping amidst the bookshelves in makeshift bunks, ecstatic to be part of a scene where greats such as Hemingway had once hung out.  Before leaving for home I just had to pop in.  A regular Sunday evening informal, writing group was already in full swing upstairs. So I crept in to partake.

After readings and feedback we repaired to a nearby bar tabac where the more we drank the stronger the ghostly presence of Hemingway, Joyce, Orwell et al, grew. For youths brought up in bland, morally upright, American suburbia, staying and volunteering in this bookshop, in the shadowy wake of the greats, for them is living the dream.

On the way back to Claudine’s I decided not to drink any more as I had to rise early for my bus back to London; but, her neighbour Salome was visiting – a bright young Moroccan woman with perfect English. Improbably, by day she studied electronic engineering while by night she worked as a belly dancer: Sunday was her night off.

Salome was thrilled to learn I was from London; it seemed to hold some cachet for her – though she’d never been. I gave in to more wine… She told us her true desire was to be a belly dancer in London. But, through an admirable sense of duty to her parents she couldn’t do it. “I can’t hurt them,” she explained in response to our urging, “after all the sacrifices they’ve made for my education it’s impossible for me.” Tiddly from the wine I’d resolved not to drink, I joined Claudine in encouraging Salome to follow her dream – after completing her education of course. I gave her my address and phone number “in case you need to CouchSurf”  I said, “while establishing yourself as a belly-dancer in London”… “Well, there are worse things!” I quipped.         End…

1217 words.


English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Sandi Dunn Julie Bailey is a hero. She (and people like her without egos and questionable motivation with clear vision and common sense) is who should be running NHS. NB It is a pity you did not ask Julie about the terrible way she has been treated by some local people involved with that Mid Staffs hospital since she started her campaign. They are people who cannot get their NATIONALISTIC smug, complacent heads around the fact that the UK NHS model IS NOT THE BEST IN THE WORLD.
  • Sandi Dunn And your researchers should go look close to home in EU and find out (for context for your listeners) what their NHSs people think about what is going on in UK…. That could be interesting don’t you think?
Julian Assange (1)

Julian Assange (1) (Photo credit: bbwbryant)

I thought you might like to read an exchange I had on the BBC Radio 4  Today  programme Face Book Page  I had today:

John Kemp Who on earth cares what the rape suspect Assange skulking in his cupboard thinks about anything? Shame on you BBC for leading on this.

Sandi Dunn John Kemp: if you really think Assange committed rape then you are a fool who hasn’t bothered to read all the ins and outs of what went on/goes on between USA and Sweden – the details are all there if you can be bothered to apply yourself….but 3 facts stand out 1) the main accuser of so called rape insisted that the condom used was split deliberately – hence rape in Sweden. However, the condom she handed in as evidence had no ones dna on it after several tests. 2) The respected Women Against Rape wrote to the press laying out their reasons for not believing in the rape story. 3) As all the recent abuse stories show a ‘rapist’ or an abuser is unlikely to have been a ‘one off’ kind of fellow. It follows that A rapist in their 40’s would more likely than not have had some history of abuse. But noone has come out of the wood work with any stories of Assange abusing them – even though there could have been money in telling such a story.

Sandi Dunn Ctnd.. Assange is wanted in USA. It is the reason Manning was tortured and kept illegally on remand way overlegal time limit – they wanted him to break and say that Assange knew who he was and so was ‘guilty’ too as the publisher of the files. They want Assange because he had the where with all to decode the files meaning he could release the evidence against USA in the film ‘Collateral Murder’ which is what pissed of the USA . If Assange goes back to Sweden their Right Wing leaning government will rendition him to USA. I believe Sweden is beholden to USA for lucrative electronic contracts etc etc All this, Snowden too, is an outrage against whistle blowing and the free press. All the top papers published the ‘stolen’ files too so are equally ‘guilty’ are they not?

19 minutes ago · Like

BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place at the ...

BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place at the head of Regent Street, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following is my contribution to the debate on radio 4 right now as sent today to The Today Programme FaceBook page:

“What is it about 6 years of Primary teaching that so many kids haven’t reached ‘benchmarks’ in reading, writing and arithmetic – all of which could be taught in one year to ANY child. – I have observed how quickly any child from any background teach themselves to operate computers and can seriously speed type while texting!? Ans: classes are too big and there is too much casual scolding which cripples a child’s confidence… imagine, you or me in a class at adult college being ticked off for some petty thing or other or not grasping a concept: would you go back to that class and teacher? Get cameras into classrooms and let’s see what really goes on.

And many of the failing NEETS kids around here are amazingly astute at drug dealing and coming up with whizzes and wheezes for going about their business undetected….

Why is UK more or less the only country that allows kids to go too early into secondary and then, even if they haven’t reached benchmarks, meaning that they will never keep up – when most countries hold kids back until they can handle secondary?

English: A UK scholboy wears a traditional gre...

English: A UK scholboy wears a traditional grey school shorts uniform (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Minister for education Gove, should get philosophy and talking about issues on the curriculum for twelve-year olds (as this lad is) in the UK too! And Get British school teachers to show this film to British kids of same age. Teachers in UK rarely talk to kids of this age with respect and wisdom – as equals – as kids would be were they given the chance to voice opinions. UK schooling It is chiefly about the bloody tie and school uniform… and manipulation of the league tables for a few measly GCSEs at end of it all. Either that, or patronising them, OR/and giving detentions etc for ridiculous reasons…. with not much to show for any of it by 16! I mean, after 11 years full-time school they should be able to have opinions and speak as clearly as this 12 year old Egyptian boy at least. I do like his hairstyle…. haha


hummus for thought

This video has gone viral on Arab social media and no question as to why.

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Boris Johnson being interviewed during London ...

Boris Johnson being interviewed during London Freewheel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just sent this email to LBC radio (London radio station) as they are discussing it  now!

Boris‘ vanity, ‘Routemaster‘ bus is a scandal and a joke. It’s air conditioning failed today on the buses and there are no  windows that open! Just imagine in summer heat!  The price of each bus is a joke too, one-third of a million pounds EACH!  please ask Y he went ahead with this  when the rest of the bus fleet pours out particulates (taxis too) so that we have the most dangerous air to breathe in EU. Paris‘ buses all run on Aqua-diesel which is much less polluting;  he should have spent this fortune organising the same for Londoners!  The back open platform is ridiculous too as we passengers will have to pay for a health and safety guy to stand on each bus to stop us jumping on and off the platform.  Also, I read that the bus companies would not pay for the buses as they did not want them, so WE are paying for them – so, what about that considering that the privates bus companies will  keep the fares!  Boris, like his bus, is a poor joke.


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Sandi Dunn
Retweeted Rory Bremner (@rorybremner):

Really enjoyed this: Russell Brand aka @rustyrockets interviewed by Jon Snow. Warning: contains spirituality
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