I used to like watching property programmes – along with the rest of the population – back in the day.
Occasionally, channel surfing, I’ll pause still on “Grand Designs”, “Homes under the Hammer” and “Escape to the Country” and watch for 10 or 15 minutes. I don’t often linger as I saw most on first airing and I already know the outcome.
“Grand Designs” always goes over budget but they get there in the end, despite McCloud’s pursed lips and sotto voce mutterings to the Channel 4 camera team.
The hammer always falls on some wreck (oddly and usually in Stoke on Trent) with the owners quickly making £20,000 in six months selling to someone on a zero hours contract.
“Escape to the Country” is an absolute waste of everyone’s time, it seems to me, as everyone wants alpacas, three acres, a Waitrose within a mile for under £200,000. The voice over at the end confirms our suspicions that this couple were doing it for 50 minutes of fame on Dave and had no intention of ever leaving suburbia (and that Waitrose nearby).
I do wonder though about an Escape to the City, as to me city life, at least in Norwich, my closest, looks appealing.
Okay. I admit Spencer and Allsop the worst negotiators (and mum) on television cover that in their tiresome routine that never makes me pause the channel surfing, but a programme dedicated to city property, to me at least, has legs.
Would love to present it too. Warts and all.
I can see myself standing on Hills Road in Cambridge, saying look at these buildings, look at the size of John Lewis, but the noise and smell is unbearable. Don’t buy near here.
Or near Great Eastern Street in London, where my sister lived, saying “yes it’s trendy, but they empty bins at 2 am and you’ll never ever sleep well.”
Maybe I won’t land that job?
Norwich though is a different kettle of poisson.
There’s two areas I’d give a wide berth to in the city centre (I’m sure you can guess) but most parts I’d gladly call home and here’s why.
Norwich is quite cosmopolitan given that it is relatively isolated. It seems to me, from the north, to be quite prosperous too, and recession proof as it was never really a manufacturing base, apart from mustard. It is quietly entrepreneurial too, with many small businesses popping up and thriving around The Lanes.
Mostly though, it feels safe, very safe, as safe as County Durham.
It’s not the type of city where you keep one eye ready to look over your shoulder. There’s little anti-social behaviour in the city. There’s a serious and growing population of the homeless, but never, ever, walking or driving through Norwich night or day, have I felt any sense of threat, any frisson of menace.
There’s another reason too.
Last night, after a fine meal at Cote Brasserie, we went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform “Romeo and Juliet” at the Theatre Royal. The food and performance were both excellent and walking across the city at 10.30pm back to the parked car, made me think that yes I could easily live here.
And yes, I could easily present a programme on city living.
I’d be more Karl Pilkington than Jools or Phil Spencer, but it’s something I could see myself doing and doing well.
“Escape to the City” episode one Norwich presented by Stuart Walton – has a certain ring to it.