As well as having the brass balls of a Roman emperor, you need to have access to a never-ending porridge pot of money and a sense that you, more than anyone else, deserve to live in an enormous four-storey rhombus with a mezzanine gallery and a poured concrete kitchen from space.
But Grand Designs: The Streets is a much grittier prospect than the usual Boomer Builds A Folly projects we’re used to, and the budgets – if not the square footage – are smaller. Narcissism is still lurking around the corner of every dove joint, though.
Focusing on the government’s self-build scheme, it follows the fortunes of people who have decided to buy a council plot and create homes from scratch. Last week Joanna and Ben were attempting to build their dream Americana wooden ranch near Maryhill in Glasgow (which coincidentally, is where I used to sign on in the ’90s.) The only problem is that Maryhill is about as idyllic and pastoral as a betting slip floating in a puddle, and their nearest neighbours were a bunch of kids who showed them exactly what they thought of modern architecture by immediately torching their caravan.
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If it was me, I would have taken that as a sign to flee the country and go into hiding for the rest of my life. But they were undaunted, because Grand Designs people are not like the rest of us.
They have a vision and they will literally risk their lives to create thrusting monuments to themselves that jut into the sky. In the end, the house was a trendy, rustic and quirky fire hazard, where arty people could play acoustic guitar while Glasgow’s most prolific arsonists lurked in the bushes.
It was all very impressive, but I dunno – why bother? In the end, whether you’re in a Selling Sunset-style box with an infinity pool overlooking the Hollywood sign or a one-bedroom flat over a branch of Costcutters, we’re all doing the same things; cooking, sleeping, farting in front of old episodes of Bullseye. Then, over time, we eventually crumble to dust until the next tenants move in, and not even Kevin McCloud can save us.
So whether you’re someone who can’t quite get it together to paint a skirting board, or a power-crazed house builder on a mission, it doesn’t even matter.
Oh well. Anyone fancy a Viennese Whirl?
Grand Designs: The Streets is on Channel 4 and All 4
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