Let Them Eat Cladding

Flipping through the Sunday papers last night, I had check the clocks to make sure I hadn’t moved them forward too much. The news certainly read like I got ahead of myself and to April the first.

Climate change minister *, Greg Barker, has decided that the reason why the icecaps are melting and polar bears are looking for a career change is all down Victorian and Edwardian houses like mine.

Obviously the Victorians were rubbish when it came to housebuilding and bolted the radiators on the wrong side of the exterior walls and didn’t bother with roofs. How else to explain 43% of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions being caused by building?

Barker’s solution for the eighty million homes of this vintage is to slap on up to 8ins of cladding that will save the homeowner hundreds of pounds a year. (We have to pay you see)

Not only that, but it will transform your little castle because, once some plaster has been slapped on the cladding, it can be painted in whatever colour you like, or even with a brickwork pattern.

Someone named Oliver Heath of Hove has had this done. I’m not sure who he is – the article didn’t say – but that’s his house above before the beauty treatment and afterwards on the right.

You can see how it has done the trick. For a start, the sky is blue and life is generally sunnier in his new look abode. He’s also got rid of the hideous net curtains and the greenhouse emitting clapped out banger from his driveway.

I’m no climate change skeptic – it most likely is – but the answer, if there is one, is more complicated than simply wrapping our houses up in a thermal blanket.

I assumed that Greg Barker must be a LibDem MP, but it turns out he’s a Tory which makes the plan even more bizarre. Beware Tories bearing ideas, as they say.

Speaking of which, next to the article on house-cosies, there was another follow-up story on the budget concerning the axing of the VAT exemption on takeaway food.

This is an anomaly, said the chancellor, George Osborne who has probably never eaten a takeaway in his life. In fact, I seem to recall that the logic was that is you ate food on the premises then you were benefiting from service, heat and light, cutlery etc and that was why government wanted a cut of the profits.

Be that as it may, this has landed George in a bit of a pickle with the bakers. Bread is a basic food exempt from VAT, but what if it’s wrapped round a sandwich? And are pies and pasties served hot from the oven, or simply kept warm until they’re sold?

Whatever the answer, it has wiped £30 million off the share price of Greggs the Bakers who are threatening to fight it all the way.

You can take your choice at to whether this government is completely out of touch or else determined to make the poorest pay for the bankers’ mistakes, it’s depressing in either case.

Osborne might as well have said, ‘Let them eat cake.’

* Don’t you think that ‘climate change minister’ is a misnomer? Shouldn’t it be something like ‘minister for keeping the climate just as it is, thank you very much’?

Which Marie Antoinette didn’t actually say. What she suggested was brioche which was a better quality bread, so she probably meant well. The oft quoted phrase to illustrate the disdain of the aristocracy for the poorer classes is much older in origin and attributed to various people, including the wife of Louis XIV.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 26th March 2012

    Climate sustaining minister, maybe?

  • Pleb Pudding 27th March 2012

    Anti-climactic minister? Or according to Gregory’s former wife – the brewery heiress Celeste Harrison – who he left for a certain William Banks-Blaney – perhaps he should be the Zero-climactic minister. William, by the way, was partial to Greggs’ sausage rolls but now prefers Alexander Hall Taylor’s dainty cucumber sandwiches.


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