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.