Thursday, 25 March 2010

Seasons in the sun

I only got into property because it’s the last bastion of fun. Golf days, trips to the races, Friday afternoons in Sam’s Chop House and loads of awards dinners. And then there’s MIPIM. While our solutions lot have an annual trade show in Hanover, the property boys go to Cannes for a week of proper debauchery and serious drinking.

Believe you me, it is mental and this year’s bash didn’t disappoint. All the public sector bods have been spinning out the party line that its nowadays all about hard work, that they’re only there because it’s the only way of getting in front of all the big hitters from the sensible banks (ie not the Jocko or Paddy ones) and the “inward investors” - frankly, registering as an end user for MIPIM is like being the fit girl in one of those American high school films, you’re beating blokes off with a shitty stick.

Hard work? This lot want to try working for RC Diamond Geezers in Angola if they want to know what hard work is. MIPIM may be a bit quieter, but there’s still a hell of a lot of boozing to be done, and if you’re pretty well connected – as I happen to be – there’s usually a boat to head to for some entertainment. Last year I ended up at a Bananarama gig on some yacht, apparently some damage was done to the mahogany fittings and whatnot, but we were long gone, tucked up in Barracuda bar, before the captain got wind of it.

You’ve got to get in the spirit of it and dress the part as well, though most lads don’t bother, just grabbing a pair of Oakley sunglasses at the airport so they’re not squinting over their lagers at the Russian “marketing girls” outside Café Roma. This year, Lord Tom Bloxham had a checked suit just like this table cloth we have at the gaff in Abersoch, while a few of the chaps see themselves as the Man from Del Monte and don some light-coloured linen numbers – if they were as “ripped” as me, they’d look like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, but after a few beach lunches it’s not such a good idea.

To be fair, I got a few deals done this year. Rostov, which I think is in Russia, put on a belting stand which managed to hold my attention a bit longer than the Peel boys’ banging on about the Ocean of Opportunity or whatever. Olga, as I think she was called, gave me all sorts of stats on the labour availability, international connectivity and all that tackle, which was fantastic. The upshot is I’ve put together a mixed-use resi, golf course and marina scheme which I reckon is going to blow their bloody socks off. They respect an entrepreneur, the Russkis.

Yes, MIPIM’s great. The only downside is the clash with Cheltenham, but when you’ve got a few credits on a private jet you can nip between the two. This must be what they mean by the “Global Village”. Frankly, I’m all for it.

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