My avid reader recently asked why I had maintained cyberspace silence for a while. We were visiting the municipal dump at the time and I couldn’t help wondering if there was an association in his thinking, but I was urged not only to carry on blogging (Sid James’ unmade classic), but to become more prolific. I struggle with the idea of celebrity in general and internet celebrity in particular. It’s one thing to be defined as ‘important’, another to define yourself as important, as appears to happen when using the internet to communicate even the most mundane thoughts to the outside world. When I started ‘Housing is Boring’ it was with the intention to only post when I had something to say. All the same, I do hold to Woody Allen’s maxim that 99% of success in life is about turning up and with that in mind, I’m going to share a few random Saturday Morning Musings, which are really nothing much more than a small sample of the things that have been annoying me over the last week.
From Bauhaus to Passivhaus (pun on a 1981 Tom Wolfe book, worth reading if you’re interested in Modernist architecture.) I read this article in the Guardian. It brought back terrible memories because for a brief period a few years ago, I was immersed in the world of domestic energy efficiency. I was working for a socially enlightened property developer and while I understand that this is an oxymoron, some of the things we tried to do were well-intentioned, including finding ways to reduce the obscene levels of waste that are endemic to the house building industry. This can easily become a very technical – and therefore alienating – subject, but as the Guardian article suggests, we possess the knowledge to make our homes warmer and more comfortable, without screwing our wallets or the planet. What the Guardian does not make clear is that huge vested interests are preventing us from doing so. At the top of this greed pile are the privatised utility companies – the ones who pay themselves a small fortune for their entrepreneurial skill in selling a human necessity. Slightly further down the scale is the profit-driven development industry that is incapable of building the homes we need, either in terms of price or design. In order to make houses far more energy efficient requires an extra layer of insulation about the width of your three middle fingers, but when my company tried to do this, it was as though we’d suggested building with bricks made of shit (although that’s probably not a bad idea either). I’m glad that some builders are being a bit more determined that we were, but the Con/Dems are actually rewinding the clock and making it easier to build homes that leak energy.
The sum of all fears: I don’t know what Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed is supposed to have done and apparently nor does the State, otherwise it would charge him with something, but he has succeeded brilliantly in distilling the worst fears and prejudices of Middle England. A black Muslim, accused of being a terrorist, goes to a mosque and goes ‘on the run’ by cross-dressing in a burka. I hereby nominate him for the Turner Prize.
Remembrance Day: A lot’s being said about the saturation of cant associated with wearing the poppy. I won’t add to it, but I would like to remember the man who was killed in cold blood by a British soldier. Apparently this person is not deserving of a name, a family, a home, loved ones, or a cause, but is merely an anonymous piece of meat who was the subject of Marine A ‘letting himself down’ when he murdered some-body.