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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday newsround #104

[Ben ReeveBen on a chair Lewis gives his holiday notes …]

Well as regular readers will know I have spent a rare bit of quality time with Frazzy down in Andalucía since the last newsround.

Ben takes a holiday

We were visiting friends and attending their daughter’s Catholic confirmation with a mandatory party on the beach where around 80 Spaniards and the odd Brit mimed drunken conversations or grabbed hold of bi-lingual partners to better confess their undying love and support for whatever the “Entente cordiale” is called in Spanish.

Mucho Tinto, mucho Tapas.

Nice to see that when drunk the Spanish do the same as the English and declare their undying affection for the stranger sitting next to them.

Tapas in MalagaHaving had only one single day in Hastings in well over a year we were ecstatic (Ecstatico?) to spend some time away from bankers insisting on hotels with infinity pools (her) and suicidal people losing their family homes (me) even for just a few days.

My joy and Frazzy’s relief can be seen in the photo to the side.

Yes I was reliably assured there are still loads of on-the- run gangsters living there; I even saw a humorously named Brit pub on the outskirts of Marbella “The Robin Hood”. I wonder what wag thought that one up.

The usual suspects

Normally Newsround is compiled from regular daily surfing, using Google-Reader as the main holding point for housing news feeds (Why are they deleting the service in July?????) but what with me and Frazzles sunning ourselves on the Costa del Sol, I’m somewhat out of the loop.

So, in an attempt to jump right back in the saddle I turn instantly to my usual suspects, Inside Housing, 24 Dash, Nearly Legal and Planet Property to see what’s been happening while I’ve been perfecting my “Dos Cerveza por favour”.

Freedom, by prisoners

And as usual, the latter didn’t disappoint with unusual and quirky takes on what is happening in housing land

Italian design firm Cubic came up with the wizard idea that the people best qualified to maximise the use of limited space design would by prisoners.

“A “module” where a stool becomes an oven, a bed becomes a closet, a can becomes an antenna, a table becomes a gym. Inside the cell, one finds out that space necessarily has a flexible dimension that changes according to how it is experienced by each individual.’

Says the article. Although it rather worryingly goes on to say:-

“Its designers hope that the Freedom Room could soon become a model for temporary residences, low cost hotels, youth hostel rooms, and social housing.”

Pay attention to their last suggestion, ‘Social Housing’. Since when has social housing equated cells or hostels?

Off to sunny Spain

I’m sure IDS will be down Wormwood scrubs come Monday morning, interrupting the mail bag sewing with lectures about bootstraps and living on £53 a week, in the style of Monty Python’s 4 Yorkshire men sketch, only to find that everyone has tunnelled out and moved to Marbella, renting more spacious rooms above the Robin Hood on the E-15 motorway at the Mijas turn off.

Better designs for smaller spaces? Yes, good idea.

Flamenco DressesCollaborations with people used to living in small spaces? OK, I’ll buy that,

But whilst applauding their quirky imitative I wonder where they are going with it. I’m not sure I share that enthusiasm and I’ll bet Cubic’s directors don’t live in, or ever intend to live in, such a pokey environment, preferring to talk about how creative and insightful they are over a Mojito at an organic meat barbeque with people who import African art.

Mind you, I saw creative use of small spaces in the back alleys of Malaga, where one enterprising Flamenco dress designer uses her balcony to advertise her wares (see pic).

Alchies AnonAnd where the alkies of the Andalucian capital go for redemption (see other picture)

Although it occurs to me that walking through the doors on a Tuesday night under a sign that large may render you anything but ‘Anonimos’.

Support Matt

More inspiriting spiritual sustenance came my way courtesy of Twitter. Matt Fountain contacted me this week with news that he is raising £100,000 pounds to help people in danger of losing their homes.

Motivated by the traumas of his own family’s home loss Matt has decided to look at his life and see what he can do to help others. He is a keen cyclist and set the challenge of pedalling around all 2,000 miles of the UK in just 36 days. I dunno about you but I would struggle to do that in 36 years.

If you are an ordinary Joe, send him a tenner, if you are a letting agent or work for a housing organisation, sponsor the guy. He is putting his soon to be very sore testicles where his mouth is (Not a nice image I grant you) and is the embodiment of what Mother Theresa proposed when she said “You can’t do great acts of compassion, only small acts, with great compassion”.

Making a difference

All that is needed to make a difference is to look at your daily life and say “How can this help?”, you don’t have to be Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi to move your bit of the world. Matt Fountain has put his hand up and should be applauded. I’d shave my head but it’s already been done.

On a similar tip Inside Housing reported this week on their own Deputy News editor Carl Brown who ran the London marathon and raised £2,300 for Shelter.  Well done Carl.

Finally I noticed the people of property portal Zoopla clearly have too much time on their hands  having worked at discovering links between letters of the alphabet in 750,000+ street addresses and the prices the houses sell for.

Alphabet lottery

Street names beginning with ‘U’ top the charts, with an average of £251,307, the highest being Upper Philimore Gardens @ £5,740,496.

Spare a thought however for the poor people living in streets whose names begin with ‘Z’ who languish at the other end of the report. Residents of Zeus Lane in Waterlooville live in properties 37% lower than the national average.

The report goes on to reveal that streets beginning with ‘T’ and ‘O’ came second and third but perhaps most usefully, vowels beat consonants hands down.

If your street name begins with a vowel then your house will likely be worth 3% more than your scummy neighbours living in a common old consonant triggered moniker.

All of which must be bad news for the residents of Krzmagasta Platz in Krakow. The vowels in their street name don’t start until 4 consonants in, a sure sign of financial disaster.

You can see the ‘for sale’ signs going up all over Poland once this report gets out.

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About the post author:

Ben Reeve-Lewis

Ben is an enforcement officer for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes for the Guardian & occasionally pops up wittering away on TV. He also runs Easy Law Training with Tessa & Graeme. Occasionally he sleeps. Find him on Google, and Journalisted. Any opinions expressed are Ben's personal views & don't reflect those of any organisations he may refer to.

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