6 Mar 2009

On Germaine Greer

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?


  1. Mark, shame you didn't stop for a beer afterwards, you could have asked her.

  2. I went to the Pembroke on Old Brompton Road to meet up with fellow bloggers. Trouble is that everybody else went there as well, and it was so crowded that I couldn't hear anyone. So I gave up and headed down to Hollywood Road to have supper at my brother's place.