My fourpennyworth (Politics)

24.3.200612.3.200612.3.2006

Friday 24 March 2006

Curious fact no 425

Having ‘applied’ for a interesting-sounding job (albeit in Reading) via an agency on Wednesday, yesterday I got the details, revealing the name of the employer. Dang me if within the hour the same name didn’t come up in Auntie (my BBC ‘news ticker’) – the Chief Executive had to resign in the fall-out from Tony’s ‘cash for ermine’ mini-scandal. Another job I quasi-applied for last month was with a company who turned out to be involved in that experimental drug fiasco of last week. Both of the posts demanded intimate knowledge of Microsoft Office applications – a knowledge which (the ubiquitous/iniquitous Word apart) I pride myself on not having. But it appeals to my Mac-based sympathies to think that there is a correlation between corporate misconduct/incompetence and use of Microsoft products. (I wonder if you can say the same about companies using agencies?)

(Category: Politics)

12.47 pm

E-mail me a comment on this entryBack to top


Sunday 12 March 2006

More on BedZED

A couple of extra links for BedZED (the correct orthography, apparently), mentioned in the previous entry.

Incidentally, the prices are as unpleasant as you would expect them to be. When the thing opened back in 2001, a one-bedroom flat was about £100,000. I saw a ‘studio flat’ (presumably much the same thing) on the market recently for £250,000.

Oh, and I thought I’d just add an elaboration to the last entry’s point about this subject being ‘political’. I don’t think there’s any question that the environment is a political issue. If it wasn’t, we might have sorted it out by now. (Cheap point, but possibly valid.)

(Category: Politics)

5.26 pm

E-mail me a comment on this entryBack to top


Sunday 12 March 2006

Glass houses

Last Wednesday I had a (doubtless soon-to-be-unsuccessful) job interview in a forsaken part of south London (SW16, practically Croydon) called Norbury. What for? Well, the post – as employers like to call them – is in my range of abilities/experience (editing, typesetting, ‘project management’, etc), and had a number of more or less engaging features (working for a charity, some kind of pension plan) that I increasingly look for in a job. But what really caught my eye was the location: specifically, the relative proximity to a place called BedZed.

BedZed is short for ‘Beddington Zero Energy Development’, and is a series of flats in a housing project that claims to use no more energy than it produces (hence the ‘zero energy’ part of its name). I don’t know whether it is as great as it sounds – it’s certainly nothing too special to look at, as far as I can see – but it’s always interested me, and I seem to look at the website (http://www.bedzed.org.uk/index.htm) at least a couple of times a month. After the interview last Wednesday, I took advantage of being in the neighbourhood to have a look. This being south London, even places quite close together require you to go back up the particular train line you are on to a junction – Clapham, Balham, or in this case, Streatham – and go back down on a different line. I recalled from the BedZed map that the nearest station was Hackbridge, so down (or rather up and down) I went. Hackbridge, or at least that part of it close to the station, is even more dismal than Norbury – if I’d not been to Harlow the week before (another interview), I would have said it was the most grisly place I’d been this year – and there were no signs at the station or in the village to suggest that you were anywhere near one of the most innovative housing projects in Europe. So, inevitably, with the map a sort of blur in my memory, I went in the wrong direction, then I went in the right direction, lost heart, went in the wrong direction again… Then it started to rain, I had a hole in my shoe, and I decided to get back on the train, returning to Victoria at the height of the commuter rush (when it was so busy that they temporarily had to close down the turnstiles). A complete waste of time, in other words.

So why have I put this entry under ‘politics’? I suppose I was expecting the BedZed development to be a bigger feature of the area – the ‘housing of the future’, as they like to see themselves. But, as I say, there were no signs to it at Hackbridge, and earlier, when I mentioned BedZed at the interview (admitting, in that foot-in-mouth way of mine, that this was a main reason for my applying), they hadn’t heard of it. There’s endless talk these days about the coming energy crisis and trying to save the environment and so on: recycling and compost heaps and ‘micro-generation’ (wind turbines and photovoltaic cells on the roof). But a project like this remains generally unknown, and the fact that builders and developers are routinely able to ignore the Government’s (presumably low-key) environmental safeguards for new houses – often because the surveyors involved don’t know enough about the subject themselves – rarely makes even the inside pages of the more serious papers. If ZedBed really is the thing its supporters say it is, then it should be ‘standard’, not ‘outstanding’.* And that’s politics, isn’t it?


* This habit of bigging something up by labelling the inferior things around it as ‘ordinary’ is a very common habit. (I must say – to use a rather tasteless example – that when I saw Schindler’s List, I didn’t think: ‘How wonderful this Oscar Schindler was.’ I thought: ‘What an ordinary, decent human being Schindler was. And what a bunch of spineless toe-rags those other German industrialists were.’) I wonder whether it has a name.

(Category: Politics)

12.55 am

E-mail me a comment on this entryBack to top