Over the rainbow or just over the top

I am not a fan of TV programmes which subject to young people to acute embarrassment in the name of fame.

is she wearing shoes?

Last Sunday, the remote was on the other settee (honest) and the worst UK TV I have seen in many months, years or perhaps decades was on. Andrew Lloyd Webber was sat in a throne being waited upon by Graham Norton – this was bad enough. It is apparently to find the next Dorothy and Toto for the Wizard of Oz.

It was quite appalling. In fairness the girls can sing. But the rest? Appalling.

But after one wannabee hopeful is ejected there is a foot fetish moment as ALW gets to be given the sweaty shoes of the failed Dorothy. Not content with this, she is then placed on a moon thing and ‘floats away’ singing ‘somewhere over the rainbow’.

I didn’t know what do do – laugh or cry. I thought for a moment I was watching some crass cheap USA budget show but alas not. It was in glorious HD on the BBC. So, worse still, I have paid for this.

It has been said in the last few weeks that as a Nation we should consider ways of engaging the British Public in the Election process and that X-Factor type shows might be the way forward.

So, on May 7th we could have all of the leaders of the parties who lose are forced to remove their shoes and sing whilst floating off in a giant hot air balloon – I can think of nothing more appropriate. The winner gets to stay on the ground and run the Country.

Normal service was later resumed. A repeat of Top Gear.

Clarkson for PM I say – provided he vetoes:

1. all reality TV shows
2. all shows containing ALW
3. any show that makes you take your shoes off

And will someone tell ALW that the ‘throne’ look is not exactly cool.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Grumpy Old Man!, Nottingham Tagged Andrew Lloyd Webber, Graham Norton, Jeremy Clarkson, Somewhere over the Rainbow, Top Gear, Wizard of Oz, X Factor

Off the fence Gordon

Yesterdays gaffe was a real cringe moment for the general election; and Gordon Brown in particular.

it was all her fault - the one on his right

His description of Gillian Duffy as a ‘bigoted woman‘ was a priceless moment in TV history and I think may seal his fate next week. It is difficult to imagine how he must feel, but the video of him on Jeremy Vine’s radio show, gives a clue!

Sky TV last night were asking whether the voters really care. I think they do. This was a blatant two-faced moment.

He had just said “Very nice to meet you, very nice to meet you.”

Then, “That was a disaster – they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous … She’s just a sort of bigoted woman that said she used to be Labour. I mean it’s just ridiculous. I don’t know why Sue brought her up towards me.”

As his wife said back in February, “Gordon’s the man that I know and the man that I love. People have heard me talk about him and they probably know everything that I would have to say about him, I know him as a strong, hard-working decent man and he isn’t anything else. What you see is what you get with him.”

This was after Immigration Minister Phil Woolas had suggested National Bullying Helpline boss, Christine Pratt was one (a prat).

It seems that these Politicians have rather lost touch with the electorate?

But you can’t accuse him of being on the fence… A little less truth serum today perhaps?

Taxi for Mr Brown?

Cheap brand values

News is expected shortly from the EU on a ruling which will allow some of the best luxury brands in the world to kerb a number of discount web sites offering their goods at ‘too low’ prices.

handy for a night out in Nottingham?

Brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton & Burberry are unhappy that their carefully crafted brand image is being watered down by internet sites who offer up to 70% discount. The rules are going to ensure that goods are sold at ‘bricks and mortar’ stores.

An low profile spokesman for these high profile firms claimed that ‘they didn’t spend million of pounds creating a brand to have someone freeride off it – and sell it off the back of a lorry’.

When I was in Selfridges earlier this month, I was amused to see that Tom Ford aftershave was limited to 6 bottles per customer. A quota imposed by Tom Ford, according to the sales girl. It was £50 a bottle – a bit more than you can buy it at cheapsmells.com

But are we missing something here?

These websites are still making money (I accept the margins may be thin). They may be run on a shoestring and the experience may be average (like my experience of buying a new camera I blogged about). Assuming these goods are not fakes, they are buying goods at a commercial margin.

Some of the big name have their own stores – and so control the whole process. In other cases (like at Selfridges) there can be a concession arrangement.

But in all other cases, someone is making a significant margin! And they have been found out by the transparency of the internet.

So whilst the brand might want to protect its core value, which will generally be focused on ‘lifestyle’ they are not currently able to control the brand cost.

It looks like they will win at the EU – and the result – we will go back to being ripped off. Do you really care if the experience is average if you save several hundred pounds? Thought not.

Haircut Sir – for a good cause!

No this post’s not about me, my haircuts these days are swift affairs!

Like father like son - not really!

My youngest son Jak has been ‘selectively’ growing his hair for the last 12 months. It is now a fully adult mow-hawk!

But, he has had enough of it and I am broke from buying the hairspray!

In his words:


I’m fairly sure you are aware I have had a mohawk for coming up to a year now, it is around 7″ – 8″ high. I am cutting it off for Dyslexia Action on the 3rd of May 2010.

The reason I am cutting it off for Dyslexia Action is because as I’m sure you are also aware, I have dyslexia and I went there when I was younger and they taught me to read and write. This is a great cause guys and girls so please donate!


I can’t really add much to this, so if you are minded, I would be really grateful if you would donate!

To give please click HERE ….

For my part, I will post the post-mow-hawk images on my blog.


By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Charity, Dyslexia Action, Haircut, Jak Garratt

Local boys have done good!

I don’t often buy the Sunday Times – not because I don’t like the editorial style, but more usually that I don’t get time to read it and its plethora of attachments! But the Rich List is a good edition…

I come across a reasonable amount of wealthy folks in my work. I was interested to see how some of the property people have faired – particularly against the backdrop of what has been a testing time in the market. In some cases we have seen property values drop by up to 40% from the peak times of 2006/7.

Local people of note, with a property bias seem to have outplayed the market:

David Wilson – £375m. Up by £110m on 2009.
Charles Clowes – £150m. Up £20m on 2009.
Nick Forman-Hardy – £95m, up £11m.
Peter Gadsby – £80m. Up £15m.

In context it is reckoned the Queen has around £290m. But topping the list at £22.4bn is Lakshmi Mittal – up 108% from 2009!

In the list as a whole, the overall wealth has grown the most since the List was first published in 1989. This is partly as a result of rallying in the stock markets.

246 of the 1000 people have made their money from property.

I smile in some ways at this wealth, when I was growing up the idea of ‘millionaires’ was really special. Now you would need 63 of them to even appear at the bottom of the 1000 rich list!

Scottish – the dry run

I went last week to Scotland to practise my Scottish – mostly because my daughter Jade is getting married to Andy (a Glaswegian). My wife reminded me that all of her side of the family are Scottish. Mine are firmly English.

and don't trip up on the fire extinguisher

So to practise, I went to Melrose. Primarily to observe and learn. Whilst there it would have been rude not to play a bit of golf – bearing in mind that it is the home of golf. Well St Andrews is – where I went last year.

My primary observation was that these lands north of Hadrian’s Wall are a cautious place. Not so much ‘red light’ more ‘amber’. Flashing.

Boiling water in our kettle in the hotel room was not quick. You could have had a cup of tea whilst you waited for it to reach boiling point.

Then there was the bathroom – not only was there a shower screen – there was a curtain too! I felt safe – two lines of defence against that water escaping.

There were signs in the hotel – helpfully telling you things you might not realise – that doors actually open. And it may be dangerous to you if you are stood in the wrong place. Like behind them.

Whilst waiting for my mates (who had been detained by a nice policeman for having slick tyres on his racing van) I was reading a glossy magazine in reception. Guess what – they have a special road safety scheme up there. Not just content with road signs they have a whole scheme! It’s like the cycling proficiency test for grown ups.

One night we had a drink in The Kings Arms – a pub that has been around since 1798. They must have been stung before, because they were insistent we paid for drinks as we bought them – this was even when three of the guys were two minutes behind the early doors boys. “No” they couldn’t leave the tab open! In fairness we do look like a group of 17 year old ‘runners’….

The golf was not cautious though – it was pretty average. I should have hit the ball a bit harder, but felt I shouldn’t…

MIPIM 2010 – post mortem

MIPIM 2010 seems a long way behind us now – and the sun seems to have arrived in the UK now. The sun of Cannes does help the wheels of the annual show go around easily!

Team Nottingham 2010 at MIPIM

So this week the sponsors and City Council all got together for a post-mortem. It was an interesting meeting with really positive feedback. I have said before that it is naive to think that you get ‘contracts signed’ whilst there. But you do meet many people who are like minded. My analogy was that if you knew which 5% of marketing actually worked – you wouldn’t bother with the other 95% MIPIM places a high proportion of the five-percenters in one place.

Although sometimes the City are questioned about why they go (against the backdrop of cost cutting) it transpires that the private sector covered a significant amount of the cost. It paid for the yacht!

It was pointed out that the public sector effectively facilitate the show. whilst the City benefit from the long term investment – in the short term it is the consultants and developers who profit. But we can’t do without each other. In that sense it is a true partnership.

The general consensus is that this is still a critical event on the calendar. Someone remarked that if you stood in Nottingham Market Square for 20 years you were unlikely to meet the number of influencers you meet at MIPIM in 4 days!

It looks like MIPIM 2011 will happen – but the position of private and public sector is still to be determined.

Where would you put a billion euros?

I saw a client in London last week – for obvious reasons I can’t identify him.

The City of London - heart of the commercial world

He is a fund manager of a large London based investment fund and he has a billion euros to spend – on property! This is new money, placed with him by wealthy individuals – the entry level is around 250,000euros.

Although there are no guarantees on return, they will try to out perform the IPD index – a property index that is published and is the benchmark for the commercial investment property market. If you can beat it – you can shout about it!

Obviously the problem in having so much money to spend is where you place it. It needs to have a balance of safety and of some risk – to give a satisfactory return. I had an interesting discussion – a number of the guys running the fund are looking at Europe – notably Poland. The reason for the latter is that the GDP in Poland is on the up. And if the economy is going well, then property should be following.

But the fund manager was explaining that the problem with European investments is that the markets there are less sophisticated and making money (other than by a general movement in the market) is difficult. Obviously if the whole of a property market is moving up, it is difficult to lose money.

But the real game for the funds is to out perform the IPD – and to do this you need something more than a general shift in the market. You need to be able to add value. Here in the UK there are opportunities to do this by a number of ways – re-gearing leases, negotiating new terms or enforcing terms.

Part of what I do is to find solutions in commercial property problems. And, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a problem – just an opportunity.

Often these opportunities can be win:win situations for owners and occupiers – they just need to be found.

The conversation did remind me that we do have a simple yet sophisticated marketplace in commercial property here in the UK. And those that can find the solutions can make money – and easily beat an averaged index!

Retirement – no time soon?

I am feeling old – as you might have spotted in my blog, my little girl has decided to get married! It only seems like yesterday when she was born.

And to add to my woes, two schoolfriends got in touch with me last week. One, Alan Butchart, from Southport found me – I last saw him in 1978 – 32 years ago. But then, out of the blue Kim Nicols contacted me via – and I last saw her 37 years ago. Blimey.

So, if I am getting old did I ought to start thinking about retirement. When I saw the full page adverts in the Sunday papers from the Pru – maybe not!

The tag-line was:

It used to be ‘when I retire’. Now it’s ‘can I retire’. Soon, it’ll be ‘if only I could retire’.

Reminders about us living longer, the fragility of our house market (and probably our best asset) and the plethora of tax changes just add to the worry of retirement. I have heard discussions in my own firm about retirement – and it is clear that some people can’t afford to retire.

Certainly, the Government are making no efforts to encourage people to save for a Pension – limiting the 40% tax relief is one such measure. Limiting the amount you can save is another.

I am bemused by these restrictions; by the time I get to pensionable age (not long!) I cannot see how there will be a State Pension which buys you anything more than a loaf of bread each week.

It was really great to hear from two school friends and catch up with what they have been up to. But is was sobering to think how quick time passes! And in 37 years time, I will be 85….

I have to go now – to collect all those pennies around the house…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Pensions, Prudential, Southport, Wedding

Long on moral authority, short on data

There is a great talk here on TED at the moment by Catherine Mohr. It centres on green technology – and the mis-information we are constantly given.

Catherine is building a house with her husband – and she declares herself a geek when it comes to green technology. They have analysed in infinite detail the cost of ‘greening’ the property in embedded terms. In other words how much energy does it take to make the green!

I have for a long time been suspicious of some of the claims about green technology – and have blogged about some of the mis-information we are given about global warming. But Catherine is coming at this from a different direction – her examples about wiping up a spill with a paper towel / sponge, tea-towel are amusing, but insightful.

As I have said before, in order for us to really be signed up to the green agenda, we need accurate data. It needs to be easily understood and have pay-back periods we can easily comprehend.

The rhetoric we sometimes see is doing nothing to help get across the message about global warming. Look here to see that the average google search uses 1/15,000th less energy than a cheeseburger. Reassuring? Thought so.

Catherines research may be geeky, but it does show that you can look beyond the headlines and get at some real data. I do believe the numbers – her 6 year payback is impressive. But it is a very small step, when you consider the number of houses being built outside of her standards.

We really are scratching the surface of the problem. We have some way to go!

But there is some good news out of the flight ban in Europe – as at yesterday some 63,000 flights had been cancelled – saving approximately 1.3m tonnes of CO2 emissions -the amount a developing nation emits in a year.

Every cloud has a silver lining (that doesn’t sound right?)