Spent much of Wednesday and Thursday at EcoBuild. Overall impression was that it was bigger and busier than last year. How much of the traffic was the semi-employed, filling in another day without meaningful employ, we’ll never know.
But if you do want to fill a day, EcoBuild is a great place to do it. For starters, they had some very interesting speakers — celebs you would not normally expect to see at a building event — and all on view for free. I caught Michael Portillo, Mathew Parrish, Dan Cruickshank, Nigel Lawson and Germaine Greer, and Boris Johnson’s kid brother Leo (just like Boris only a brunette). All of them spoke fluently, some even made sense, but the one I felt like blogging about was Germaine Greer.
QUESTION: What was she doing there in the first place? ANSWER: she seems to be something of a housing pundit these days. I’m not altogether sure why, as she has almost nothing to say on the subject that is remotely coherent. She strides to the podium and delivers a series of knock about, grumpy old woman style thoughts, gets lots of laughs from the audience (because she is funny) and that’s it. But what she actually did was give a long list of things she disliked about modern housing. I didn’t write any of this down but from memory it included:
• wheelie bins (disfiguring)
• fences (naff)
• staircases (too many, and sometimes used as a “feature”)
• bad design (but she didn’t say what good design was)
• too many 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed houses
• too many flats
• gardens not big enough
• too many gardens
• solar panels on rooftops
• wind cowls (pointed, because Bill Dunster was next up – he managed to look really piqued – maybe he was?)
She went on and on, shooting her mouth off, picking off targets like she was on a machine gun on the front line at the Somme. All good stuff, and the audience lapped it up, but afterwards it left a strange taste in the mouth. Was she in favour of anything at all? Or was she just playing the gallery for a laugh? Has Germaine Greer really got anything useful to say about housing, or is her elevation to pundit status merely a commentary on the fact that there is now a vacuum out there?