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The Resilient Journey of Arnold Schwarzenegger, From Abused Child to Triumphs in Film, Politics & Television

Australian writer Clive James once described the then 30-year-old bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, as having a body like “a condom full of walnuts.” It is more than likely that Schwarzenegger read the phrase: according to one of his biographers, Michael Blitz, author of the hilarious chronicle Why Arnold Matters: The Rise of a Cultural Icon. The actor, politician and former Austrian athlete is an incorrigible narcissist who tries to “read every last line that is published about him.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, like many other prominent figures in pop culture, experiences a conflicting dynamic with his own persona. While he appreciates the level of notoriety his fame brings, he is frustrated by being reduced to what he perceives as a crude caricature. Of particular concern to him is the potential dismissal of the immense dedication and disciplined efforts he invested in sculpting his body during his formative years, from ages 15 to 25.

Schwarzenegger vehemently rejects the idea that his personal accomplishments should be treated as laughable or subjected to cruel jokes. He views his finely chiseled physique as a testament to his determination, discipline, and artistic vision, rather than mere fodder for mockery. While he has demonstrated the ability to laugh at himself and engage in self-deprecating humor, he upholds a strong sense of dignity and does not tolerate those who attempt to undermine his legacy.

Always in the spotlight

This Friday marks the Netflix premiere of FUBAR, a series in which Schwarzenegger plays a fictional veteran CIA agent, and on June 7 Arnold will also appear in a three-episode documentary series with which Netflix has set out to show “the man behind the muscles.” And this is not just any man. As much as his triceps might make one think of a prophylactic crammed with nuts, Schwarzenegger is a complex individual with a particularly rich biography.

A family portrait of Schwarzenegger’s older brother Meinhard, mother Aurelia, and father Gustav Schwarzenegger in 1965.
A family portrait of Schwarzenegger’s older brother Meinhard, mother Aurelia, and father Gustav Schwarzenegger in 1965.Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)
An 18-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger lifts a friend in Austria in 1965.
An 18-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger lifts a friend in Austria in 1965.Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s journey is marked by several significant chapters, starting with his tumultuous childhood. As a young boy, he faced the emotional struggle of vying for his father’s affection against his older brother. Schwarzenegger’s father, a supporter of the Nazi regime, exhibited abusive behavior towards his family, often likening himself to a lesser version of Adolf Hitler. The painful memories include instances of physical abuse, as his father wrongly believed that Schwarzenegger was gay.

Despite these challenging circumstances, Schwarzenegger’s resilience and determination drove him forward. At the age of 21, he made the courageous decision to emigrate to the United States, armed with only a small sum of Austrian schillings and a limited English vocabulary of approximately 20 words. Undeterred by the hurdles he faced, Schwarzenegger embarked on a remarkable journey of self-transformation.

His exceptional talent in bodybuilding became a defining aspect of his life. As a gifted athlete, he achieved great success, securing the prestigious title of Mr. Olympia seven times and being crowned Mr. Universe in 1968. Notably, he achieved these milestones while simultaneously working as a construction worker in Los Angeles, demonstrating his unwavering work ethic and dedication.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s illustrious career encompasses various facets that have contributed to his enduring legacy. Firstly, he ventured into the world of acting in 1970, making his big-screen debut as Hercules in the film Hercules in New York. Despite facing scathing reviews, Schwarzenegger persevered and eventually garnered recognition for his performance in Stay Hungry (1976), earning him a coveted Golden Globe, as encouraged by acclaimed filmmaker Bob Rafelson, an influential figure in New Hollywood.

Throughout the 1980s, Schwarzenegger established himself as an iconic figure in action cinema. His repertoire boasts an impressive lineup of blockbuster films, ranging from Conan the Barbarian (1982) to Last Action Hero (1993), including the legendary Terminator franchise. Notable entries in his filmography include Predator (1987), Red Heat (1988), and Total Recall (1990), solidifying his status as a prominent action movie star.

In addition to his on-screen persona, Schwarzenegger frequently found himself in the media spotlight. He made headlines by marrying journalist Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family, while simultaneously expressing his political alignment with Republicans Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Despite advocating for the restoration of traditional family values, Schwarzenegger faced public scrutiny when news emerged of his extramarital affair and a secret child with his Guatemalan-born maid, Mildred Baena.

Schwarzenegger’s journey took a further twist when he entered the realm of politics. Initially positioning himself as a supporter of fiscal austerity and espousing firm masculinity, he ran for elected office in California. However, his political career witnessed significant transformations. Schwarzenegger evolved into a champion of sexual minority rights and became a prominent advocate for neoliberal environmentalism, a concept that was not widely recognized before his foray into politics. These shifts in his political stance redefined his public image and created a complex narrative surrounding his political ideology.

A traumatic childhood

For Michael Blitz, Schwarzenegger has retained coherence and sanity amidst so much existential and physical turmoil because he has never lost sight of “the child he was and the character he built to rescue himself from a mediocre life.” If one of his qualities were to stand out, it would be, in The Guardian journalist Rory Carroll’s opinion, “his unbridled ambition coupled with an oceanic self-confidence.” Schwarzenegger is “a pathological enthusiast.” He never gives up, never gives in, always demands “that extra stroke that takes you to a new shore” and manages to keep smiling.

Field, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joanna Cassidy in 1976.
Field, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joanna Cassidy in 1976.FilmPublicityArchive (FilmPublicityArchive/United Arch)
Donna Summer in the arms of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a party at his Los Angeles home in April 1977.
Donna Summer in the arms of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a party at his Los Angeles home in April 1977.Michael Ochs Archives

Some of the anecdotes about his life are full of his stubborn personality and his mercurial but playful endurance. The most touching Schwarzenegger anecdote is perhaps the one about the boy who tried to play soccer because his father showed an interest in the sport that his older brother, Meinhard (a superb boxer and mountaineer) was not so good at. The lanky pre-teen that was Arnold stubbornly kicked the ball around until his father lost interest after watching him lose an unimportant game. From there he went on to lift weights, tired of being a disappointment to his brother and his father, the Nazi Gustav, who was a police officer, war veteran and chronic abuser, and who even wondered if that mushy little wimp was really his biological son.

One of the most endearing aspects of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life is perhaps his youthful escapade as an 18-year-old. In the midst of his military service in the Austrian army in the summer of 1965, he went absent without leave (AWOL) to participate in a bodybuilding competition in Germany. Despite facing consequences, including time in the stockade and a reprimand from his superiors, Schwarzenegger claims in his memoir, Total Defiance: My Incredible Story (published in 2012), that this act of rebellion was a rare and worthwhile experience.

Another memorable anecdote from his military days involves his training in driving tanks. During his service year, he had the opportunity to operate an antique tank through the Austrian countryside. In later years, Schwarzenegger tracked down the tank and eventually purchased it when it was bound for the scrapyard. He transported it to the United States, where he exhibited it to his friends. Subsequently, he donated it to the Motts Military Museum in Ohio in 2000.

However, upon visiting the museum at a later date, Schwarzenegger was disappointed by the condition in which his cherished tank was displayed. Consequently, he requested its return and currently utilizes it as an integral component of an educational program for youths from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Los Angeles. As part of this program, if the participating children exhibit good behavior, Schwarzenegger rewards them with a field trip and the opportunity to drive his tank.

These intriguing episodes highlight the unique experiences and interests of Arnold Schwarzenegger, demonstrating his willingness to seize unconventional opportunities and create impactful initiatives that combine his personal passions with a desire to inspire and educate others.

Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing

Other fascinating aspects of Schwarzenegger’s personality have to do with his use of tactics in his younger years to psychologically destabilize his opponents, something like the trash talking common in boxing or basketball, but little less than unheard of in the much more genteel world of European bodybuilding. Arnold says he developed very sophisticated strategies to “torpedo the self-esteem” of candidates with better bodies than his. In his opinion, rather than foul play, the use of this type of trickery was a symptom of “superior intelligence” to that of his rivals, not to mention the blind determination and competitive instinct that have always guided him.

Also noteworthy is the trick he played on his on-screen muscle rival, Sylvester Stallone, which only came to light years later. In 1990 he received a script that he considered one of the worst he had ever read and, aware of how things worked in Hollywood, he leaked to the press his enormous interest in starring in it. As he anticipated, this raised his rival Stallone’s suspicion, and he fought to get his hands on the project. Arnold’s dastardly trick worked. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot became a critical and public flop and, by Stallone’s own admission years later, “one of the worst movies in the solar system.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger at a party at the Four Seasons in New York in 1976.
Arnold Schwarzenegger at a party at the Four Seasons in New York in 1976.Fairchild Archive (Penske Media via Getty Images)
Young Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Young Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.Ron Galella (Ron Galella Collection via Getty)

A unique accent

Already in the United States, the young adult proved his mettle by resisting any attempt to interfere with his career. Mark Hamill, the future Luke Skywalker, with whom he struck up a friendship when they were both starting to frequent casting calls, advised him to “choose a stage name that people would be able to remember” and to get rid of the dreadful accent that made him sound like “an operetta Nazi” as soon as possible. Since it’s hard to say no to a man possessed by the Force, Schwarzenegger took his advice on only one occasion: in his first high-profile role in Hercules in New York, he appeared as Arnold Strong in the credits and struggled to impose an accent more from the suburbs of Omaha than the outskirts of Graz.

The experiment left a bad taste in his mouth: it made no sense to give up what made him different and to replace it with a dull name and a fake accent. So he returned to the not so unpronounceable Schwarzenegger and that Teutonic touch that he has never really wanted to get rid of, even though he has demonstrated on multiple occasions that his Yankee accent is now much better than it was in 1970.

The same with politics. Arnold first won election as governor of California in 2003, at a time when he was considered a disciple of Nixon’s fiscal austerity and Reagan’s cultural conservatism. During the campaign, he insisted on presenting himself as the Terminator who was going to wipe the irresponsible frivolity and affectations of the Democrats off the map, even though his advisors thought it smarter to avoid the negative connotations of the character and present himself as a much nicer kindergarten cop.

Mick Jagger and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Hôtel du Cap in Antibes (France).
Mick Jagger and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Hôtel du Cap in Antibes (France).Jean Pigozzi

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a keen understanding that his fellow citizens in the Golden State would embrace a tough stance with greater fervor than misguided paternalism. His foresight proved accurate, as his success marked the beginning of a fast-paced trajectory—from being an immensely popular pop icon to attaining political power—a path subsequently traversed by Donald Trump. However, when Schwarzenegger sought re-election in 2007, he astutely recognized the shifting political climate and swiftly embarked on a sharp course correction. This transformation led him to adopt centrist and even progressive positions on certain issues, ultimately securing another triumph. Throughout this journey, Schwarzenegger’s guiding principle has always been to trust his own instincts.

Schwarzenegger is an individual who may appear unconventional, with a physical appearance likened to a “condom stuffed with walnuts,” yet his resilience and consistency amidst striking contradictions make him an unyielding force. His unwavering self-image remains impervious, much like a nuclear bomb-proof shelter. Undeniably, Schwarzenegger’s captivating persona warrants the production of numerous documentaries to illuminate the multifaceted aspects of his life and career.

Schwarzenegger’s story is a testament to his adaptability, astuteness, and unwavering confidence in navigating the realms of both entertainment and politics. His remarkable journey serves as a compelling case study, showcasing the dynamic nature of leadership and the significance of trusting one’s own instincts in the face of evolving circumstances.


Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

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Culture

Can’t Afford A House In UK? Move To Germany!

Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud has told first time buyers if they can’t afford to buy a house ‘move to Germany’.

The TV presenter advised young people looking to get on the property ladder to abandon their hopes of buying a house in the UK and instead ‘move to another country where the housing market is healthy’.

He told the news website JOE that almost every other North European country and Canada have got ‘really healthy markets, lots of diverse opportunities, lots of diverse offers and it isn’t hugely expensive’.

The 64-year-old said: ‘My advice is move to Germany, maybe that’s the way forward.’

McCloud also took aim at ‘immoral’ housing developers, who he claims now make on average £68,000 profit per house or per flat, compared to 2009, when the figure was ten times less.

Have YOU moved to Germany? Email chris.matthews@mailonline.co.uk

Houses in Germany costs just £232,941 on average. Meanwhile, a pint of beer costs just £2.14 in Germany, while on average in England a pint is £4.21

Houses in Germany costs just £232,941 on average. Meanwhile, a pint of beer costs just £2.14 in Germany, while on average in England a pint is £4.21

Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud who has told first time buyers if they can't afford to buy a house 'move to Germany'

Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud who has told first time buyers if they can’t afford to buy a house ‘move to Germany’

The TV presenter (pictured) advised young people looking to 'move to another country where the housing market is healthy'

The TV presenter (pictured) advised young people looking to ‘move to another country where the housing market is healthy’

First-time buyers purchased 33% of homes sold in the UK so far this year, marking an all-time high

First-time buyers purchased 33% of homes sold in the UK so far this year, marking an all-time high

Houses of a residential area are seen from above in Frankfurt, Germany (File image)

Houses of a residential area are seen from above in Frankfurt, Germany (File image)

McCloud also took aim at 'immoral' housing developers, who he claims now make on average £68,000 profit per house or per flat, compared to 2009, when the figure was ten times less. Pictured: Homes along a street in London (File image)

McCloud also took aim at ‘immoral’ housing developers, who he claims now make on average £68,000 profit per house or per flat, compared to 2009, when the figure was ten times less. Pictured: Homes along a street in London (File image)

He claimed the average profit ‘big housing developers’ now make every time they sell a house or flat was ‘about £68,000’, ten times what it was in 2009.

McCloud added: ‘They’ve shifted their focus from volume and meeting government targets to the profit they deliver to their shareholders.

‘Persimmon, the year before last made £1.1 billion of profit for their shareholders, 25 per cent of their turnover.

‘I’ve only got one word for it and I think it’s immoral.’

Speaking about the state of the UK housing market, McCloud said: ‘I look at the UK market and I see nothing good here.

‘I look at what’s happening in Germany, Holland, Netherlands, Denmark, Scandinavia, I look at other, almost every other North European country and Canada – they’ve got really healthy markets, lots of diverse opportunities, lots of diverse offers and it isn’t hugely expensive.’

Foreigners can buy properties in Germany with relative ease.

Even since Brexit, people from non-EU countries can borrow up to 60 per cent mortgages.

Not all banks offer expats mortgages. DKB and Santander are two that do but having even a temporary residence may improve a person’s chances.

An extensive report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) concluded that Britain’s development sector is ‘warped by decades of housing market volatility, the departure of local authorities from the housebuilding sphere, and cuts to capital grant that collectively could have insulated the development market from significant shocks’.

The report claims that ‘the UK has both a pro-cyclical housing and development marke’.

The IPPR said: 'Germany has traditionally kept much tighter controls on mortgage lending, meaning that in order to access home ownership, German households have had to save up for longer periods of time than their British counterparts'

The IPPR said: ‘Germany has traditionally kept much tighter controls on mortgage lending, meaning that in order to access home ownership, German households have had to save up for longer periods of time than their British counterparts’

House prices in Germany have historically been far more stable than those in Britain

House prices in Germany have historically been far more stable than those in Britain

England's trend of ownership is in stark contrast to Germany, where many more people rent

England’s trend of ownership is in stark contrast to Germany, where many more people rent

In Germany, the professional sector of people and companies that own property to let it out, is much more invested in the market (37 per cent) than in the UK (18 per cent)

In Germany, the professional sector of people and companies that own property to let it out, is much more invested in the market (37 per cent) than in the UK (18 per cent)

Traditionally, Germany has a much higher rate of housebuilding compared to the UK

Traditionally, Germany has a much higher rate of housebuilding compared to the UK

It added: ‘By contrast, Germany is in a stronger position: its mortgage market has been more tightly regulated and consequently its market (and economy) is less vulnerable to economic downturns; and housing construction is undertaken by a far greater number of actors, including large housebuilders but also, crucially, many smaller, regionally based actors and a significant not-for-profit sector (both within and outside public ownership).

‘The two countries utilise the powers of government in quite different ways. In Germany, although private enterprise is crucial in housing finance, housing development and management of stock, the state, locally and nationally, plays a far more ‘interventionist’ role – in regulation (for instance, of rents and of the mortgage market), in land assembly, and in housing development itself (albeit often through locally owned companies).

‘However, in the UK, although the parameters of policy are set by government, the trend is towards stepping back the role of the state in housing provision, and then becoming active when markets cannot achieve satisfactory outcomes (for instance by providing mortgage guarantees, or through the provision of housing benefit to households unable to afford their rent).’

The latest Nationwide house price index showed house prices fell slightly in March, with a 0.2 per cent decline in the average property value.

The monthly decline was down to seasonal adjustment – which aims to smooth out months that are typically more and less active – whereas the non-adjusted average house price actually rose slightly from £260,420 in February to £261,14 in March.

It means the typical home, according to Nationwide’s data, has edged up 1.6 per cent annually, with headline figures dragged back by southern England’s stuttering property market.

On the same day, Halifax also reported property prices fell in March, reflecting the first monthly fall since September 2023.

The major mortgage lender revealed the average home price fell 1 per cent last month, following five consecutive months of rises.

Despite reports’ focus on headline house price figures, the UK housing market doesn’t just move as one.

A graph showing the average percentage growth in in house prices across the UK

A graph showing the average percentage growth in in house prices across the UK

This map of annual house price changes across the UK shows the North-South divide. House prices are rising in the north and falling in the south

This map of annual house price changes across the UK shows the North-South divide. House prices are rising in the north and falling in the south

It is made up of thousands of local markets that will all be performing differently from one another.

These differences can even be seen at a regional level where there is evidence of a North-South divide opening up. Prices are generally rising in the North and falling in the South.

The average house price during the first three months of 2024 in Northern Ireland, for example, is up 4.6 per cent year-on-year, according to Nationwide.

Prices in Scotland are 3.7 per cent higher over the past three months than they were during the same period in 2023.

And in the North of England the average home is up 4 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.

Prices in the South West are down 1.7 per cent compared to this time last year and prices in East Anglia are 1.3 per cent lower.

Housing experts have claimed that ‘predatory’ investment funds are taking advantage of the British housing market, keeping families paying rent for longer.

There was £1.3billion of private investment in British new builds last year and almost two fifths came from American funds.

Housing expert David Hall told MailOnline: ‘It’s no surprise at all that it’s a business model for a lot of the funds and pension funds and gives them some semblance of certainty and assurance.

‘It is going to price people out of the market. These are investment forums that are essentially vultures. They’re not social housing buddies. They’re not charities. They’re predators.

‘They’re doing nothing wrong. They’re allowed to do it. The market is wide open for predators to come in, wide open for the market to be manipulated.

Housing charity Acorn’s chief Nick Ballard told MailOnline: ‘Britain’s housing crisis should be a source of national shame.

‘Rising homelessness, 1.3 million families on council housing waiting lists and millions condemned to living in poor quality, insecure and expensive private rented accommodation are problems having a very real negative impact on people’s lives, health and on society as a whole.

‘House prices are out of reach for many and have been for years. Rising rents and the cost of living crisis mean people are finding it harder and harder to save to put down a deposit.

‘Policies of successive Governments have led to 1.5 million council houses sold or demolished and not replaced, so these are no longer a viable option for most.

‘House building alone, particularly build-to-rent properties which will siphon money to US investment companies, will not solve the housing crisis.

‘The Government must embark on a serious building programme for social homes, to address the shortage of housing, to bring down rental prices and to provide safe, secure and stable homes that can become the foundation of happy and healthy lives.’

As the average price of a London home nears the £1million mark, thousands of homeowners are ditching the capital.

Have YOU moved to Germany?

Instead of buying in London, homeowners are flocking to more affordable towns that are often in the north of Britain, MailOnline previously revealed.

Schemes like the Help To Buy ISA may have worked a decade ago but since savers can only receive a government bonus if they buy under £450,001, resources such as this have also been priced out.

The average house in the capital costs £733,000 but the average London salary is only £44,000 and most mortgages are capped at 4.5 times that, amounting to just £198,000.

The cheapest place to buy a home is in Middlehaven (TS2), in North Yorkshire, where an average house costs just £49,833.

In fact, Yorkshire postcodes make up the top four cheapest places to buy, with Bradford (BD1), Middlesbrough (TS1) and Brambles Farm (TS3) all coming in with prices under £85,000.

Shildon (DL4), in County Durham is the fifth cheapest, with homes selling for an average of just £86,993.

Linz Darlington, the boss of leasehold extension experts Homehold, told MailOnline: ‘You can seek a better and more affordable quality of life elsewhere.

‘Greater flexibility around working from home has made making a cross-country move more accessible for many.’

Yet while many people are considering leaving the capital, not all postcodes outside of London are as affordable.

In fact, some are even approaching London property prices.

Cobham (KT11), in Surrey, was the most dear, with the average home selling for a shopping £1.4million.

Close behind was Beaconsfield (HP9), in Buckinghamshire, where homes go for £1.3million.

Mr Darlington added: ‘Increasingly buyers are looking for property outside of London and the South East — and so they should be.

‘While these areas may be the preference of many, as a proposition they are clearly overpriced.

‘Leasehold flats have historically been the ”first rung on the ladder” for many house-buyers in London and the South East, but constant woes from cladding issues, outrageous service charges and spiralling ground rents make these an ever less attractive proposition.

‘Issues with flat ownership are compounded by the fact the age of first time buyers has been increasing, which means people are needing for larger, family friendly properties for their first homes.’


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Spain throws away 400,000 tons of lemons: ‘Production has got out of hand’

According to the latest estimates provided by the Spanish agricultural union COAG, in the 2023-2024 season, around 400,000 tons of lemons cannot be sold and will go to waste — about 27% of the planned production. Losses from this massive waste are estimated at €120 million ($129 million). Spanish farmers have blamed the problem on various factors: lemons entering the European Union from Turkey, Egypt, Argentina, and South Africa; investment funds altering the market; supermarkets that only want aesthetically perfect fruit; the rise in pests; climatic adversities… However, some in the sector openly recognize that the main reason for the disaster is the disproportionate rise in the number of hectares cultivating lemons on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

One of these critics is the World Citrus Organization (WCO), which cites the excessive rise of lemon crops in Spain as the main cause for the disaster. The WCO does not understand why the entry of foreign lemons is criticized when Spanish lemons are found across Europe. “Spain is the leader in the market, it is the one that controls the situation, it is always easy to blame someone else, but we must accept that we are in markets in which there must be a minimum level of competition,” WCO Secretary General Philippe Binard tells EL PAÍS by phone. “Let’s look at what happened with the tractor demonstrations in Europe, our headquarters are in Brussels, the Belgians complained about the Dutch, the French about the Spanish, the Spanish about the Moroccans….”

The Interprofessional Association of Lemon and Grapefruit (Ailimpo) — which represents the producers, cooperatives, exporters and the processing industry of the lemon sector in Spain — has not only distanced itself from the criticism of foreign lemons, it has also admitted that lemon cultivation needs to be reduced in Spain to rebalance supply and demand. Ailimpo proposes a different path to what was seen in some of the tractor protests: apart from tax reductions, improvements in agricultural insurance and promoting increased consumption, it is also committed to a more environmentally friendly model — it supports regenerative agriculture or the management of lemon farms as forests as a means of generating carbon and biodiversity credits.

For José Antonio García, director of Ailimpo, there is no doubt where the problem lies: “Production has got out of hand,” he says. “The data speak very clearly. The cultivation area has gone from 36,000 hectares eight years ago to nearly 53,000 hectares today.” He explains that lemon farmers decided to plant more trees due to the “very striking returns” on the crop. This move prompted other investors to get involved. “In the end, it is an exercise in simple mathematics. If the market is able to absorb 1.1 million tons of lemons, and the estimated production for this season is 1.5 million, there are 400,000 tons that are going to stay in the fields.”

agricultores Málaga Limón
Farmers throw lemons at a protest in Malaga last March.Daniel Pérez (EFE)

Pedro Gomáriz, head of citrus at COAG, acknowledges the excess production in the country, but says it is one of many factors. “The exaggerated amount of lemon from third countries that is entering the European Union is one of the big factors, it is unfair competition, because they are also entering with [phytosanitary] products that are not allowed here, and on top of that they are entering with pests that are not hitting us,” says the farmer, whose arguments have so far not been proven. “They are coming from Turkey, South Africa, Egypt, Argentina. They are flooding the European market with lemons that compete with ours, but without having to meet the same standards as us, treated with products that we do not have here, with much cheaper labor and often subsidized by the state,” insists Gomáriz.

While these complaints are common, the data on lemon consumption in the EU analyzed by Ailimpo, between October 2023 and March 2024, shows a quite different situation. In those six months, the total demand for these citrus fruits in the EU (excluding domestic consumption in Italy and Spain) was 403,000 tons, of which 302,000 came from Spanish fields, while the rest — 87,000 tons — came from Turkey. In other words, three out of every four lemons consumed in EU countries in this period were grown in Spain. According to Ailimpo, these figures are also similar to what was recorded in previous years, meaning they are unlikely to have played a significant role in the disaster of the current lemon season, which runs from September to June.

Gomáriz also blames the disaster on supermarkets’ “oligopolistic” practices, decisions by investment groups, and weather events, while downplaying the importance of the spike in lemon cultivation. “The life of a lemon tree is like a Gauss bell. Its harvest increases, at 15 to 20 years it reaches its maximum and from 20 onwards it begins to decrease. So, of course, there is a lot of new lemon destined for the replacement of plantations,” he says.

“This is the elephant in the room that no one wants to see,” says García, who notes that in the last eight years, seven million lemon tree seedlings have been sold in nurseries in the country. “These are really very typical dynamics of the agricultural sector. We have seen it in other products such as the persimmon, we are seeing it with the pistachio, with the almond tree, they are cycles where the farmer sees profitability in the crop and there is an explosion of cultivation.” García acknowledges that other factors are at play, but believes this is the biggest reason for the current disaster. “It is true that there are investment funds involved in the lemon sector, but they have not invested a single euro in new plantations,” he says.

For Ailimpo, what’s most important right now is to address the losses of this disastrous season. But the organization also believes that green measures are key to ensuring long-term economic profitability. “We have closely followed the development of regenerative agriculture in citrus in California, and we believe that the future really lies there,” says García. He explains that his organization is trying to design a system of green practices to improve CO₂ absorption, which will allow the sector to generate carbon credits. “It seems like science fiction, but it is already working in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, where agricultural activity is also generating biodiversity credits. Because when we think about biodiversity, we think about lizards, birds, bees, but we always forget what biodiversity there is in the soil.”

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