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Saturday, September 20, 2008

With permission

We're having an extension built on our house. Well, we're planning to have an extension built on our house, assume that when I go back to the bank with a more exactly estimated size for my begging bowl they will lend me the money (what else are they going to do with it though, I wonder). Anyway, I've not been through this process before, but having established how infeasible it is consider moving to a slightly larger property (not at all feasible under the current regime) we've gone down the well-trodden path of Middle England and hired architects to draw up a plan and then submit it to the local council. I popped round to the neighbours to check with them that they were O.K. with it -- they were -- and then told the architect to get on with it and thought no more about it.

A couple of weeks ago we got a letter from the council saying something about planning consultation or something. If said something about a web site where you could look at our planning application, but when we followed the URL it turned out that it would be a few days before the application would be visible. When we remembered, about a week later, we'd lost the letter so we're still none the wiser about the cyberplanning process, but not to worry.

Then, a few days ago, I started getting letters from builders touting for business, self-storage companies offering their services and all manner of helpful tradespersons. It hadn't occurred to me that enterprising individuals would, of course, scour the local council planning applications to find new business opportunities. Good on them, I don't mind in the least. You could understand them looking through these things, but no-one else.

But then my wife got a phone call from a friend of hers from work, who said that she had been reading through the planning applications in the local paper and saw our name. It subsequently transpired that whereas, for many years, I have picked up the local paper only when one of my children is featured in it, other people actually subscribe to the neighbourhood Bugle & Trumpet. My wife's friend says that she sits down with a cup of tea, looks through all of the property pages at all of the houses for sale (even though she is not actually looking for a house) and then looks through the planning applications. To her, this is relaxation.

I have never, ever, in my entire life, ever looked at the property pages except when we were buying a house. Even then, I delegated this dreary task to my good lady wife, and confined myself to looking at the estate agent's details for the properties she had shortlisted. But under no circumstances would I ever look through planning applications. When I mentioned this odd behaviour to a colleague, he told me that his wife does exactly the same thing. Now, I knew that the peculiar Middle England obsession with property was greater than I personally felt, but I had no idea it went this far.

Is it a Surrey thing? Or an woman thing? Or a Surrey woman thing?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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