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Correspondent&#39s week

Is the housing market about to fall off a cliff just as the stockmarket did four years ago? And how long before the damage caused by the stockmarket crash is fully repaired? Those thoughts ran like a thread through the past week.

Like many wives, mine is addicted to TV programmes which tell us to spend every penny we have buying and improving our property. So, the week started with me taking time off for home improvements, which included an oak floor laid by a firm employing Romanians who work brilliantly but cannot speak a word of English.

Back at work, my first call came from a widow on a disability pension who was about to be evicted by a loan shark after her £2,000 loan snowballed into an £89,000 debt. He was welcome to her unheated, ramshackle home but, with the council offering only bed and breakfast accommodation, it meant her four dogs would have to be put down.

The week&#39s proofs arrived on the desk. As always, Kevan Reilly had done a sterling job in my absence. The only change I made was to reverse a captioned picture of Jordan so that her assets were pointing into the page and not away from it.

Outside work, I took a trip to see The Passion of the Christ – one of the most violent films I have ever seen. The biggest shock was the size of the audience – just 10 people – while Scooby Doo 2 packed them in next door.

Wednesday brought a flow of readers suffering from the aftermath of the shares&#39 slump, lots of endowment shortfalls and one whose savings plan to help his granddaughter through college paid out £300 less than he had contributed.

Off to lunch on Thursday with Dave Cowdell of Fidelity, who reported that the firm had a great Isa season, with sales up by 30 per cent to £400m. The last customer to be signed up just before the clock struck midnight on April 5 called from a Swiss hospital bed where she was laid up after coming a cropper on the ski slopes.

Cowdell extolled the wonders of investment reregistration to help you track your savings. I was more interested in his father-in-law, who has just retired as racing editor of the Mail.

“Was racing a better investment than equities?” I asked. Apparently not, as he was retiring at 58. But he made enough most seasons to pay his tax bill through lots of small accumulators which paid off with a big win every so often. I will stick to Isas, thank you.

Whether investing in British industry is a good idea is a moot point. Apparently, the boss of Rover went to a motor show in Germany recently and caught a frau admiring one of his motors. Asking her gently whether she wanted to buy one, she replied: “I would like to but we have to support the German motor industry.”

He sighed: “It is just the same in Britain. They feel they have to support the German motor industry, too.”

Back at the office came a call from easyJet founder Stelios, who was upset because Hilary Cook of Barclays Stockbrokers had suggested in our Strike it Rich column that he no longer directly owned it. But he appreciated her support for the shares.

A worried call came from an advertising executive making money doing up homes for resale. Would the home market crash before he flogged his latest ones?

Not just yet, given the drive by lenders to make us borrow more. Yorkshire Building Society has announced that it is putting all mortgage applicants into a £50,000 prize draw. West Brom is offering a Rover 25 with every mortgage. I suspect it would get more takers if it was a Volkswagen.

John Husband is personal finance editor at Mirror Money


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