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Football blows the whistle on house hunting

I AM RELIABLY informed that house prices are softening. Quite what this means, however, is unclear judging by the endeavours of my local estate agents to ensure that all their properties are in the Lottery- winners-only price bracket.

But I am not the kind of person to let reality stand in the way of a good hypothesis and I therefore allow the World Cup refugees in the Snug Bar of the Fount of All Knowledge to witter on aimlessly about rising interest rates and spiralling inflation.

Indeed it is the World Cup that I blame for softening house prices. To be fair, it is not just the World Cup but the entire sporting social season that is upon us.

Last week it was Royal Ascot and the start of the Lord's Test. Soon it will be Henley and Wimbledon.

The upshot of all this is that no-one is around to show their homes, and even if they are, they simply fib then curl up to watch Botswana play Papua New Guinea in a crucial Group W match.

As a consequence potential buyers are losing interest in the market, or are indeed embroiled in some sporting activity of their own, which in turn depresses house prices.

Once the summer sporting calendar is complete we go straight into the holiday season, and I can predict with confidence that if there is to be any resumption of the housing boom it will not take place much before September.

This is in theory good news for home buyers like myself, although the problem of finding anywhere to view is something of a stumbling block.

I am not helped at the moment by an unfortunate incapacity that has left me virtually immobile. The cause of my unfortunate injury is somewhat embarrassing. But anyone familiar with the parents' sprint and the onset of old age can probably guess.

It is a painful disability, one made all the crueller by the lack of sympathy from estate agents calling to see if I am interested in viewing some wreck they are trying to pass off as "in need of loving refurbishment".

First, they are astonished that I actually answer the phone; they normally call when I am at work and can thus fulfil their obligations without the need to engage me in conversation.

Once over this surprise, they become quite angry at my polite refusal of their offer. After first guffawing loudly at the reason behind my incapacity, they then assume it is a feeble excuse to curl up and watch Botswana etc etc.

The lack of sympathy from esate agents I can understand, but if I wanted to feign illness in order to watch Botswana, I can assure you I would come up with something slightly less humiliating.

The good news is that my legs are expected to heal just in time for the September boom in house prices.