Insects officially better than estate agents?

Journey of Life, BBC1

Selling Houses, Channel 4

OH, WHAT must it be like to be able to fly? Rubbish probably, like everything else. The question is academic anyway. As things stand, we’re pinioned by gravity, which keeps our hats on our heads and our heads out of the clouds. Pity.

But if we could fly, even while affecting cynicism and boredom about it, wouldn’t it still be handy to soar away from work, telly, family and inconstant friends? As it is, every time we want to escape, we have to go sideways rather than up. Essentially, human beings are a bunch of scuttlers.

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Such profound thoughts are prompted by watching Journey of Life, which last night was about the evolution of flight. Insects were first to fly, because they enjoy being near the sun, rather like those folk who go to Torremolinos every summer. They also live brief, dull lives, with their sole purpose being to breed.

According to nice-guy presenter Steve Leonard (all wholesome teeth and Hugh Grant eyebrows), insects are "the most successful type of animal on Earth". How did he make that out? Have they invented Pot Noodles? Can they send texts? I think not.

Insects are a bunch of freaks, as was proven by the colourful camerawork and slow-mo-fast-mo photography on this programme. How thrilling to watch dragonflies in a dogfight. It was like the Battle of Britain without the pipe-smoking.

At one time, dragonflies were the size of hawks, which must have been another good reason for staying in back then, even if folk didn’t have television. There were also pterodactyls, which flitted hither and yon pecking things and generally getting on your wick.

"Sadly," said Steve, "there are none left." Was he out of his mind? Imagine stravaiging merrily down to the pub when one of these landed on your napper and started hammering away like a woodpecker. That’s not to mention the mess. These guys were the size of hang-gliders and, well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Scientists think birds are descended from dinosaurs - "the greatest predators of all time" - at least until the arrival of the legal profession. The question is: why did dinosaurs move from scales to fluff? Answer: to impress the burdz. How times have changed.

I suppose that was the depressing thing about this sunny, upbeat, Blue Petery programme. All any of the creatures cared about was food and nookie. I mean, why can’t they be more like us?

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Look at how we have evolved, reaching a pinnacle of perfection in a creature that has no other purpose in life than to make its fellows happy. I refer, of course, to the estate agent.

Those involved in Selling Houses had made a bad job of flogging John and Ann-Marie’s pad. Not one potential buyer had turned up to view it in four months. Andrew Winter, the ruthlessly efficient presenter, confronted the estate agent about her failure even to visit the house, only to be told: "We have endeavoured to do so." Of course, the word "endeavoured" was the give-away: basically they hadn’t tried.

The property under advisement was a four-bedroom bungalow in the English Midlands. John said it was unique, which is a uniquely misused word. The house was sort of Sixties-ish and had a goldfish pond.

Andrew was typically forthright about the hall carpet ("Ugh!"), the Fools and Horses wallpaper, the "terrible" kitchen, and the two messy single bedrooms, which he deemed "a disgrace". This hints at a recurring theme in such programmes. The participants never seem to have watched any themselves. Otherwise, they’d know not to leave all the clutter and grandchildren’s toys lying around.

They’d also know not to over-value their property. That’s why achieving results in this programme is usually such a doddle. The first thing you do is knock 20,000 off the asking price (in this case, a mere 325,000). Then you spend ten grand on new furnishings, flooring, worktops and lights.

Interestingly, John had a moustache, which experts reckon can knock between 5,000 to 12,000 off the value of a property. He still had it on at the programme, by which time they still hadn’t sold the house. You do the maths.

Ann-Marie burst into tears, such is the stress of trying to make money out of nothing. I’m growing immune to the whole thing. I can’t remember when I last watched a property programme that didn’t have someone greetin’ their eyes oot.

In my view, the sooner the sky-high property market crashes to the ground the better. The pterodactyl didn’t prosper in the end. Why should estate agents?

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