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In the papers today: 17.01.08

Tumbling house prices, rising floodwaters – it may all feel rather apocalyptic, but at least the Telegraph offers some levity.

The floods have affected the 14th-century building that Damien Hirst, Britain's richest living artist, is renovating. Unperturbed by the prospect of pickled sharks bobbing gently downstream, Hirst's builders seem to have given more attention to helping to save the 'historic Roundhouse building' of Hirst's neighbour, archivist Lorna Parker, despite the fact that the main problem seems to have been water in the garden shed.

Hirst probably doesn't need to worry about property prices, but the BBC, which has made some strange decisions about its portfolio in the past, does. It has brought in Jones Lang LaSalle to help sell off Television Centre at London's White City. Hoping to raise £300 million, the Beeb is worried that it may not achieve this in the current market. Which, reports the Evening Standard, has prompted the BBC's in-house newspaper Ariel to run a spoof ad, reading 'Des res Sixties behemoth, close to Tube... teeniest chance of asbestos in the roof'.

Also in the Standard, Jason Beattie reports transport minister Tom Harris explaining that the government is hedging its bets in case the third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow fail to go ahead. It is hanging on to land around Gatwick, so that as a fallback it could develop a second runway there. Which is likely to be out of the frying pan and into the fire as far as public opposition is concerned.

Householders struggling to go green may be cheered by a report in the Telegraph about a service called makemyhomegreen.com, launched by Patrick McCool, which offers a one-stop shop to Londoners to help them upgrade. 'London has lots of houses that look beautiful but don't work,' McCool says. 'There are entire streets that need help.'

If you need any little jobs doing, don't call in a PFI contractor – or at least be careful which one you pick. The National Audit Office, reported in the Telegraph, finds that prices charged for a new electrical socket range from £30.81 to £302.30, with keys costing between £4.26 and £47.48. The only way to afford much work would be if you had access to a gold mine, so it is fortunate that the Independent can report that an Australian company is planning to open one in Scotland.

That paper also asks 'Has "David" Got Too Big for Scotland?' against a full-frontal photo of Michelangelo's masterpiece, and a story that there are plans to move it out of Florence because it is too much of a toursit attraction. Anybody for decentralisation?

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