I have never felt the need to address the subject of estate agents. True, theirs is a despised calling, as my daughter discovered when she briefly became one and had instant pariah status bestowed on her. But reading about the lack of office space in the City, I began to share some of the revulsion.

According to Mat Oakley, the head of commercial property research at Savills: “It is going to be a very tough year for office tenants. If you’ve bought into wellness and ESG [environmental, social and governance] and productivity, you obviously want the best of the best – you want accessible buildings, you want buildings that your staff can work flexibly.” I think, reading between the lines, this means that clients want the most space for the least amount of money.

The parlous situation of the department store chain Beales reflects a wider malaise in bricks and mortar retail. I am relieved that it hasn’t completely turned up its toes, as it will postpone an outbreak of that noisome word beloved of the financial press – “shuttering”. Shops can’t simply close these days – they must be shuttered. Whether the users hope to inject a note of drama into proceedings – the cataclysmic crashing of steel shutters – I can’t say, but shut will do just fine.

I was also amused to discover that the great romantic figure Byron used to refer to Wordsworth as “Turdsworth”. What, this from the creator of Don Juan? Tsk, tsk. We should count our blessings that he didn’t overlap with Walt Whitman.

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Finally, TV ads rarely make me laugh, but the one for a well-known brand of washing machine capsules that comes with the stern warning “Keep away from children” is an exception. Well, it has long been my policy.

Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist



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