WE used to hear a lot about the great divide when discussing the United Kingdom, indicating that up ’ere in t’north it was mostly flat caps, whippets and Woodbines, while our fellow Brits in the infinitely more salubrious south enjoyed a much better income and lifestyle.

I never fully understood why and still don’t, if truth be told, though I did suffer quite a shock when first I went to live and work in London in January, 1958.

Smugness over my significantly improved income was quickly dampened by the realisation that living in the capital would swallow a sizeable chunk of my newly acquired wealth. The annual rent I paid with a fellow journalist for a shared basement flat in Swiss Cottage would have comfortably matched the asking price for a modest terraced two-up, two down in Bolton, with enough left to furnish the place.

Nowadays, with Blighty reeling from the after-shocks of cataclysmic upheavals in the financial markets, no one mentions the north/south divide, except occasionally in passing. Where one lives no long seems to matter a great deal. Families everywhere have suffered shortfalls in their income and are exercising tighter control over what is laughingly termed “disposable income” (we don‘t seem to have any in our house). We are all in the same boat, with very few exceptions.

However, there are still examples of the staggering difference in prices quoted for property in the UK, and, consequently, what is considered value for money.

A perfect example leapt from the pages of a homes supplement in my national daily newspaper. It carried an advert for an apartment in what used to be The Old Sorting Office, in Barnes, London, SW3. It read: “A stunning (how estate agents love that adjective) one bedroom apartment on Barnes Green, in the heart of the village. Formerly a two-bed flat, it now has a large reception, modern bathroom, high ceilings, a balcony and secure underground parking, left over from the old Post Office”.

I know property in the capital is expensive, especially if it comes with the luxury of secure, underground parking, and Barnes is one of the nicest and most sought after areas to live in Greater London.

Having conceded both points, I now shamelessly reveal that I dropped my egg butty when I read the asking price: £750,000. Having picked up my butty just before Boris got to it, I will write that again: £750,000. Threequarters of a million quid for a one bedroom flat, and I’ll bet the estate agent didn’t blush when he quoted that price, indicating that supply and demand governs the asking price of anything.

Perhaps it’s my northern, working class upbringing, but the thought of paying such an eye-watering sum for a one-bedroom flat is anathema to me, even if I had the brass, which I never will. Maybe the great divide hasn’t disappeared. It’s still out there, laughing at us gobbins in t’north. Daft? Us daft?

I don’t know anyone who would pay £750,000 for a one bedroom flat, anywhere. Somebody will in Barnes. Very probably a southerner!