Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Some people watch celebrity chefs on television and buy glossy monthlies with enticing recipes -- and yet still make the same six meals which come easy and never fail.
Then there are others (myself included) who don't open themselves up for the criticsm of such laziness: we watch programmes like Grand Designs -- but would never think of lifting a hammer purposefully.
We admire those who have some grand conceit for a home on stilts or a houseboat built with no plan and from recycled rubbish -- but we mostly admire them for doing it on television where GD presenter Kevin McCloud will say what we are thinking: "Are you mad?"
And some people -- those boat builders among them -- certainly are.
But more often than not these Brits are people with a vision and deep pockets, and even if they don't always sensibly employ an architect, on-site manager or a builder who has done this kind of thing before, the result is always compelling viewing.
In every episode there seems to be that "Oh no!" moment when everything goes wrong -- most notably in this series when the couple in Cheltenham have the walls up for their underground house and they start to leak, or the people who excavate for their modernist family home in Bath only to watch the rains come and their neighbour's retaining wall crash and mud slide onto their site.
These six episodes showcase the eccentric (a Gothic conceit in Monmouth, see clip below which also illustrates the international appeal of watching people build mad or inspired houses) to the beautiful (the pristine, white and hygienically precise "sugar cube" house in Bristol). And there are plenty of "Oh no!" moments, usually involving money.
Having a budget is fine in theory but to have their dream home most of these people end up crawling back to bank managers just to get the job done.
But, as one who lived in a leaky building, once the builders have gone you tend to forget the bad days, the mud slides, the vile weather which held up builders for three months, the meeting with the bank manager . . .
Grand Designs allows you to live vicariously through other peoples' dreams and nightmares, and at the end you get the smug satisfaction of saying "Nice, but I couldn't live in it" . . . or "Are you mad?"
Nothing would induce you to try these new recipes for heartbreak.