25 Feb 2009

Trying to Stay Positive

It’s been a very strange year or so, hasn’t it? I have just been reviewing my blog posts since I started in July 2005 and have concluded that my contribution level is down by a half. I peaked in the summer of 2007 – 14 posts in July that year. In stark contrast, this post will be only the 9th for the first two months of 2009. It feels as though my output is mirroring the general lack of construction news and events, sitting as it all does in the midst of the most dire recession in living memory.

Other building bloggers seem rather quiet as well. There’s been a fair amount of discussion about the various government consultations doing the rounds, but it’s been against a backdrop of “does it really make any difference.” Everyone is so concentrated on keeping afloat amidst the bad economic tide that it seems not that many people have the energy to discuss the rarefied points of zero carbon, especially as it all seems to have been conceived in a world of ever-expanding growth, a world which now seems to have hit the buffers. Is this all but a temporary blip? Or is it the beginning of a new era of human development where growth will no longer be taken for granted, nor even particularly desired?

I have no idea, no more than anyone else. But I do detect a subtle shift in the mood of friends and colleagues, which might be summarised in the phrase “Enough Tat!” It’s almost as if everyone has been sated with consumer goods and experiences and now they just want to be left alone in peace.

Take foreign travel as a good example. A generation ago, flying off to exotic places was aspirational and appealing: today, it’s become the humiliation that is RyanAir where you are penalised if you want to bring a suitcase with you. And the chances are that, when you get to where you are going, it will have already been ruined by mass tourism. There’s something very depressing about that, isn’t there?

Sometime last year, I was listening in on a conversation where some young thing was boasting about having “discovered” some wonderful beach where there simply weren’t any tourists. It was the sort of conversation we have all been party to over the years. Twenty years ago I would have thought “fantastic, I’d love to go there.” Today my condolences go out to the beach.


  1. My response was to start a blog and stop putting off doing the house up on the basis that if the money stays in the bank its more at risk (both from the bank's behaviour and the governments tendency to withdraw benefits if you have more than a few 100 quid in the bank) - haven't had much feedback yet though (hint).
    BTW I really enjoyed your book and found it really helpful.

  2. Well, I for one have enjoyed your posts on low/zero carbon issues, so I hope you continue to reflect and write, even if some of it is critical or negative. We need vigilant and vociferous scrutineers now when every new building is likely to be promoted as low carbon.

    I am trying to remain upbeat and find some crumbs of positivity by thinking about how we might make things better (no matter how modest the improvements) by starting a blog. Of course its fairly easy to be a frequent poster at the beginning so I'll just have to see how it goes.

  3. Cheer up Mark, look on the bright side you coiuld be a developer

  4. Yeah, you're right. Things could be a lot worse.

  5. Mark

    Don't stop writing please!

    Just back from 3 exhausting days at EcoBuild which would have been a depressing drowning in eco bollocks if it wasn't for the buzz of cut the crap happening in various seminars and meetings.

    Please keep cutting the crap.