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Would you buy a house with a stranger?

How do people today manage to get their foot on the property ladder today when soaring house prices far outstrip their salary and chances of a mortgage? Take Cambridge, where average house prices are £277,812 – way beyond the means of the average worker. One answer seems to be doubling up with a stranger to find your dream home, with co-buywithme placing ads along the...
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How do you perceive Ipswich?

What is the first thought that springs to mind when you hear the name  Ipswich? I went to a CIPR crisis management event there last night and naturally the  prostitutes murders and recent bird flu outbreak were highlighted. Concern was expressed by some PR practitioners that the reputation of Ipswich might have suffered as a result, that new businesses might be deterred from...
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Iraq’s future – views sought for Kurdistan magazine

The deputy editor of a political magazine based North of Iraq has emailed me some questions regarding the future of his country, with an emphasis on Kurdistan, the language in which it is printed.  Farhad M. Hassan has also  interviewed experts from Chatham House and the Council on Foreign Relations for his weekly publication. I thought...
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How switched on is the EU?

Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel wants normal light bulbs to be banned in the EU and energy saving lights used instead. Studies show that carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 25 million tonnes a year if both households and the services sector exchanged traditional light bulbs for energy saving lights. Australia is leading on this and has pledged to phase out...
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Dame Helen’s crowning glory

Am I the only loyal subject who has not seen Dame Helen’s Oscar winning performance in The Queen? Is it as fantastic as everyone says? If you have seen it, which do you think was the best part of the film, what made it so outstanding?
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What is your fear, and how have you overcome it?

I have written a guest post for the erudite Tom Paine on my fear of public speaking and how I am conquering it. You can read it here. It will be interesting to hear your advice about this, and whether you have any fears which you have overcome, and how.
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Two unmissable programmes this weekend

I shall be glued to the TV for the final episode of Channel 4’s The Search this evening which I was invited to audition for at the last minute. Just as well I didn’t join the team, I know I would have struggled to crack those codes as my best friend is my sat nav. However, the locations have been breathtaking, and my money is on Saskia whose multi-lingual intelligence is...
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Govt may face £305 million fine for farm payments disaster

This news almost slipped through unnoticed, but not quite. While the government pleads poverty over compensation for pensioners, it appears that it could be fined up to £305 million for its shambolic handling of subsidies paid to our farmers, which caused much hardship and devastation for many of them. Farmsubsidy.org reports how this news was quietly slipped out...
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Is the cost of divorce to blame for fewer marriages?

With weddings hitting an all time low, I wonder if a major cause for men is the thought of getting stung in the divorce courts, like Colin Montgomerie and Ray Parlour, whose ex-wives can continue to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Mind you, with some women earning more than their husbands, the boot can sometimes be on the other foot. But now our divorce...
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It might not be Shakespeare, but …

I reluctantly gave up my salsa class last year as it clashed with a drama group my son James joined and I had to drive him to his acting lessons each week. Now it all seems worthwhile as today he has his first professional role – as an extra on EastEnders. He is naturally thrilled and very excited. We were up with the dawn chorus as he had to leave Cambridge at 6.30am. He was one of six...
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Will our Iraq withdrawal spare Prince Harry?

Will Tony Blair’s decision to begin withdrawing our troops from Iraq spare Prince Harry from being sent to the frontline? What a huge relief that will be for the royal family. With Denmark following suit, maybe Lithuania too, I wonder what Bush really thinks about this. When will American troops begin to return home for good? No sight of that yet as he has just sent another 21,000 troops...
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Polite petitions and govt’s deaf ears

It’s not just the 1.8 million road pricing petitioners who feel they are being given the brush off, how about the 4 million people concerned about the future of their post offices? Are they being heard? There is two weeks left to respond to the government’s consultation on this, with several hundred post offices being considered for closure.  Julian Sturdy is...
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I have been included on Miliband’s blogroll too

I had no idea until now that I had also been included on the Environment Secretary’s updated blogroll. I found out via Guido’s post, and all the hits it was bringing my way. I simply never expected it, especially after blowing the whistle on how much it cost David Miliband to set up his blog. I do have a few green credentials, and enjoy highlighting environmental issues. Minister...
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