Saturday, February 09, 2008

Property and greed

click photo to enlarge
Just when you think TV can't get any worse it does! Three genres of programme currently fill an inordinate amount of UK air time. The so-called "reality" programmes full of mindless "contestants" doing mindless "tasks" are the epitome of dross that each season achieve the seeming impossibility of greater inanity. Then there's the various takes on cookery, each chef with their own pathetic gimmick, undertaking ever more ridiculous stunts in the interest of self-promotion. Jamie Oliver surely can't be far off a knighthood the way he's going. However, I don't think that's good enough. I'd like the pope to consider him for canonisation. St Jamie of Aga has a nice ring to it!

However, by far the worse of the televisual time-wasters are the property programmes. Those who conceive such viewing have clearly taken Gordon Gekko's "greed is good" creed to heart, and won't be happy until they've completely removed any notion that a house is for living in, and replaced it with the belief that it's simply an investment. How the BBC, with its public service remit, can support the selfish capitalism that underpins such programmes beggars belief. A significant part of the problem with housing in the UK centres around its use as an investment vehicle, as well as the activities of the growing group of avaricious buy-to-letters, urged on by this type of programme, who push up prices and ruin neighbourhoods and individual properties, all for their own selfish interest. Some of these people convince themselves that by buying a house and breaking it up into flats (to fund the loan they used to buy it) they're providing a public service! Surely such delusion is indicative of serious mental illness, and certainly shouldn't be fed by television?

As I walked past this sixteenth century house next to the fourteenth century church at Billingborough, Lincolnshire, I idly wondered what possibilities these programmes might dream up for it. Maybe they'd try and make it "more authentic" with a bit of "distressed" wood here and a slab or two of Cotswold (because it's the "best") stone there. Perhaps, taken by the genuine mullions, they'd reproduce them in all the windows. That would surely raise its price. Or would they make it multiple-occupancy (for the "discerning" buyer only of course) with a few more entrances knocked through its limestone walls. What they wouldn't do is leave it to grow old gracefully in the way it has done, slowly adapting to the needs of succeeding generations, because in so doing there's no quick profit to be made!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 15mm (30mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off