Sunday, May 20, 2007

Housing crisis

There is a lot of talk about the crisis in housing but very little discussion of what must surely be a major factor - namely the price of land.

Let's just imagine that the government were to introduce a 2007 Town and Country Planning Act in which, at the stroke of a legislative pen, they made an enormous amount of land available for housing development. Wouldn't this be a relatively straightforward matter? Aren't there many areas of land that are unsuited to agricultural development that could be made available for building homes?

Of course, an increase in the availability of land such as I envisage would undoubtedly lead to a dramatic fall in land values and there are many powerful interests who would oppose this. All the same, it seems to me that to attempt to address the problem faced by so many people today - namely the impossibility of creating a home of their own - without confronting the factors that support the current astronomical price of land, is to ignore the fundamental issue.

Or am I missing something here?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Cambridge University Underwater Exploration Group

A letter landed on the mat this morning inviting me to the 50th anniversary reunion of the Cambridge University Underwater Exploration Group and I found my thoughts drifting back across the years to the days when I was briefly numbered amongst its members.

Not for us the modern buoyancy compensator, balanced-piston regulator, or semi-closed rebreather. No - a pair of waxed canvas trousers, lead boots and an inflated sheeps bladder was all we needed to explore the watery domain.

But joking aside, I vividly recall my first (and nearly last) open-water dive with the CUUEG. Dropping off the edge of an inflatable dinghy, off Mousehole in Cornwall, I sank like a stone to a depth of 30 metres. After crawling around in the kelp for a while, we came up again - which I remember enjoying on account of the feeling of floating in a bright void.

Later in the week one of our instructors had the opportunity to spend a couple of days inside a naval recompression chamber. I later discovered that his status as an instructor amounted to the fact that he had survived the previous year's trip AND that he had decided to repeat the experience.

I didn't dive again for 25 years.

Though I won't be attending the 50th anniversary celebrations, I extend my heartfelt greetings to fellow survivors.

I'm sure it's all very different nowadays.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blogger's block

OK - so let's try again.

This time - instead of attempting to write minor pieces of literature, witticisms etc. on which I might be judged in this life (or by posterity) - I'll simply record stuff that occurs to me day to day. I guess that's what a blog is meant to be about, after all.

Don't go away.