Power to the People!


And so, as the market rages around us like a bushfire gone berserk, we must pause awhile this coming weekend, take a deep breath and enjoy yet another bank holiday.

This fourth one of the year is called the May Day Holiday, or International Workers’ Day, and according to the nice lady from BBC Weather, it promises to be a fine and sunny weekend.

This means that we at RB will probably be quiet…

The origins of the May Day Bank Holiday are obscure, but we are told that it has ‘a rich and somewhat mysterious history, with roots likely dating back to pre-Christian times’.

It is alleged to have originated as a fertility ritual in agricultural communities and was performed to ensure good crops and to ward off frosts and evil spirits.

Historically a young maiden named the ‘May Queen’ would dance around a Maypole celebrating fecund Mother Nature’s return to our green and glorious land (and no, a Maypole is not a massive phallic symbol…again its origins are shrouded in the misty veils of Anglo-Saxon history…).

However, in contrast to the holy day (holiday) of Easter (q.v. last month’s missive) this ancient pagan festival was not appropriated by the Christians.

No, it was nicked by another pan-global, group of myth-believing egalitarians, the Communists. Appropriated to celebrate the oppressed Workers of the World, May Day is known in most of the rest of the world as International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day.

In-between times it was hijacked by the Morris Dancers to celebrate…to celebrate what exactly? Er, dunno…being a beardy tit perhaps?

Annnnnyhow, these things come thick and fast at this time of year – bank hols, not rustic beardy tits – we’ve got another one in about three weeks.  Consequently, they wreak merry havoc in the Wandsworth property market.

If you look at a graph of historic annual activity, like I did yesterday, all years follow a similar profile – that of a rollercoaster.

The year begins with activity right down deep in the bottom left-hand corner of the page, then it gradually climbs steeply through the Spring to a height in May from whence it has gathered enough momentum to crash on through the peaks, troughs and whirly bits of the rest of the year.

So, by mid-March/early April we’re right in the thick of it. Then, just as we’re careening around a corner, laughing maniacally at the sheer fun of it all, along comes Easter and we dip down into the soft and saggy underbelly of the Daffodil Doldrums.

We then pick up momentum again and are slungshot through April, and whumph! we have a soft and soggy landing into the Mayday bank holiday.

But wait! Whoosh! we’re off again at a million miles an hour heading for the death-defying loop-the-loop of the Spring Market, and pfffth…we collapse into Whitsun, the Spring Bank Holiday and half term.

Another brief pause for breath, and we’re up and running again, scaling the zenith of the market that is June, and then gradually descending and slowing as we slide into July and the wide Sargasso Sea of the Summer holidays. Upon which we drift listlessly for a few weeks, before becoming utterly becalmed in the Late Summer Bank Holiday.

Then as life returns to London, we pick up speed and whizz off into the secondary summit of the September market, peaking around Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ night after which we slowly sag into the slumber of the Winter solstice.

I would draw you a picture, but it paints a thousand words, and I’m only allowed a thousand words and so I’d have nothing to write…does that make sense?

Actually, hang on, I’ll draw you a crappy picture (prob worth perhaps 122 words?), that way I can keep writing (see Fig. 1 below).

Fig.1 Graph of annual activity Wandsworth Property Market. © The Financial Times.

As you can see, all the troughs and dips correspond to Bank Holidays, which as I say, wreak havoc with the natural flow of the property market.

And they purportedly damage the wider UK economy too.

According to a 2012 report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research each one costs the UK economy £2.3 bn. That’s £3.4bn in today’s money. Over £27bn a year!

Well, I think that’s twaddle.

Going on the assumption that consumerism is the key to the modern economy, i.e., buying things that we don’t need, with money that we don’t have, to impress people that we don’t know, well now, that’s what keeps the economic wheels turning.

And if someone spends a sunny Sunday afternoon in a pub garden (only fools get blotto on the actual Monday) will it stop them taking out a mortgage or buying a pair of trainers on Tuesday (or Wednesday if they drank on the Monday)?

Well, I suppose it might if they’d got vey, vey drunk…

But generally, I reckon that life (i.e. buying things) just goes on.

If we didn’t have a few days off here and there to talk bollocks in a sunny beer garden, we’d all go insane. The economy would collapse. And perhaps more importantly, we, the Workers of the World need our downtime!

Now, admittedly, I am not a behavioural economist, but I do subscribe to the Marxist narrative of human history. No really, I do. Well, you’ll just have to trust me on that, because I am, after all, an estate agent…

Best wishes
Patrick ‘Wolfie’ Rampton