The plane to Nice was packed with lots of male, middle-aged men. For a minute I thought I was on the wrong flight: a try-before-you-buy timeshare trip, or a Saga golfing holiday charter perhaps.
But no, as Gary Taylor of Argent helpfully pointed out, here on BMI Baby Flight WW6529 were the great and good of Birmingham’s property community.
And, as Glenn Howells, added: “If this plane crashed it would set Birmingham’s property sector back by, er, at least three weeks.”
Leading the contingent was the leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, and his lovely wife Gaynor.
There were plenty of lawyers on the plane: Martineau had wheeled out no-one less than their newly minted senior partner, the avuncular Andrew Whitehead. Alex Jones of Mills & Reeve was here for a few days, impressively with only hand luggage. While Anne O’Meara, of Hammonds, had brought along a female colleague to up the female quotient.
A trio of Barclays bankers, who apparently have money to lend (!), took up one row.
As well as Birmingham’s own Starchitect Glenn Howells, Gary Church of NewChurch Integrated Architecture and Engineering represented the design community. Apparently he does a nice line in sheds and, if you’re in the market for a new waste facility, he’s your man.
There were even a few developers here. As well as Taylor, representatives from Miller and Stoford have made the trip.
I shared a cab from the airport (just 140 Euro, gulp) with the lovely Lara Day of Want Space Got Space, but there was no time to lounge at my hotel as I was off to the jointly sponsored Martineau and Tuffin Ferraby Taylor party at Coventy City Council’s apartment.
A very pleasant reception, spoiled only by the view of a crass Manchester banner draped across the exhibition centre opposite, proclaiming the northern city to be the nation’s “cultural beating heart”. I went there once. I’d say they have slightly more culture than a yoghurt, so it’s not much of a boast.
Dinner with Martin Field of the Urban Land Institute was entertaining. He confirmed that global property giant Hines has signed a memorandum of association with Hammerson, Henderson and the Australian Future Fund and that the powerful four are looking at “opportunities south of the Bullring”. I hope that Birmingham City Council can rope them in soon, so they don’t go too far south.
So what of Wednesday?
The grandly titled “Leader’s Dinner”, hosted by Mike Whitby, is being held in the evening. Sponsors of Birmingham’s MIPIM presence are required to attend this invitation-only soiree, and are briefed to bring along a guest from outside the city.
None of them, from what I can gather, has any one lined up yet.
One, who shall remain nameless, asked me what I was doing on Wednesday night. Strictly speaking, as I was born in the Black Country, I do qualify to attend the dinner. Unfortunately, I am otherwise engaged. I suspect the sponsors will be trawling the Croisette for contenders.
So far, the big questions for the week have remained unanswered. Is Birmingham going to announce the name of its new Strategic Development Director? (That's the job Clive Dutton wanted, but never quite got – he’s here, representing Newham, by the way.) Word is the City had more than 50 applicants, and have short-listed, but no names yet.
Or is Birmingham Development Company going to unveil it’s new-look for the Post & Mail building? Since Alan Chatham and Mark Billingham are no-shows, I somehow doubt it.
But the burning question, the one that has kept my phone and in-box buzzing all day, is has Mike Loftus been reunited with his underpants?
I have to say, when I arrived in Cannes, there was a faint aroma of camembert. Even though I am in France, for a minute I was concerned it might be Mike and his cheesy feet.
But apparently not, “the Walrus”, as he is affectionately known in Birmingham, emailed to say: “Mon valise est trouve et arrive.”
Now, it’s a while since I did O Level French – two decades, and the rest - but I think he was trying to say: my suitcase has been found, and has arrived.
However, as this blog is for an austere organ like the Birmingham Post, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I checked on babelfish (the translation web site).
Apparently, the literal translation is: “My bag east finds and arrives”. Let’s hope there aren’t any French property investors looking to come to Brum this week.