Brassica and I were catching up and I said that I’d have a cup of White
Peony and Rose tea for a change. It can be irritating when someone else
jumps on your raft of choices. Yes, Brassie thought that she’d like the same,
please. This drew us into a conversation about copycat culture and whether
it was a compliment or an irritation, not to say, theft, to adopt someone else’s
Apparently, in China there are replica Cotswold villages, a Thames town
with half-timbered houses, cobbles and olde worlde pubs. In other regions
there are counterfeit Eiffel towers and Tower Bridges.
Hah! I scoffed. They even have a Stonehenge and a Hallstatt. Mind you,
the Americans have our Queen Mary at Long Beach and didn’t someone
transport the original London Bridge to Arizona and rebuild it over the
Colorado River in 1971?
Oh yeah, Brassica said. I don’t think she’d heard of Hallstatt, so she
by-passed that topic. I read about an architect called Tony Mackay who
criticises the pastiche effect, where the wrong building materials are used and
they get proportions wrong, creating a film set rather than authentic
There’s a book called Original Copies, or something like that, I added, having
read the BBC News reports online the day before. I think the author is Bianca..
Jagger? interrupted Brassie-Know-It-All.
No, I gave her a withering look. Bosker. She postulates- I deliberately used a
long word here to deter any further interruptions- that the Chinese regard
imitation as the sincerest form of flattery. It is their original concept of
Well, who’s to say which is superior: pushpin or poetry? Brassie was showing
off her ancient residual knowledge of JS Mill from her degree, many Chinese
lanterns ago. It was hardly likely to ignite a conversational conflagration and
anyway, nobody ever knows what pushpin is and it’s a bore having to explain,
like trying to clarify why a joke is funny, or not.
But they do like innovation too, don’t they?
Brassie was determined to score one over me. ( Advantage.)
Zaha Hadid is a British architect, isn’t she? Brassie looked triumphant and
somewhat flushed. It wasn’t the tea.
British-Iraqi, I countered. Advantage Dixon-Stuart.
Isn’t she designing some ultra- modern project in Beijing which is meant to
look like three fish-like forms emerging from a stream?
Hey! I squealed. I’ve just had an idea! Why don’t we get the Town Council to
invite some Chinese VIPs over here to see if they’d like to buy Suttonford,
lock, stock and barrel. We have half-timbered cottages and period houses and
original characters. Or, they might build us in duplitecture. I’m sure they’d
love Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe and A La Mode.
You mean Suttonford with a Chinese skin? Brassie’s eyes were wide.
Actually, then we could ask Zahid to design some fish buildings for us. After
all, we have the trout and the chalk streams, so they would fit in well with
our environment. We could offset the cost by selling off the Suttonford
Kebab van, complete with its fairy lights and noisy generator…We could pull
in more tourists with an Izaak Walton custom-built museum to fishing flies
and all things piscatorial.
And we could have a Terracotta Army on the roundabout, gushed Brassie.
No, that would be naff, I cautioned her. After all, I am the arbiter of taste
So should we attend the next Council Open Meeting? Brassie asked
Possibly. But don’t say anything to anyone meanwhile. We don’t want anyone
copying our ideas. Hmm… I don’t know what to cook tonight. Oh, I
know-we’ll just have a Chinese, though it’s nothing like the real thing.
Oh, we can do that too, said Brassie. Cosmo and the boys like one once
in a while.
Why, oh why does she not get her own ideas! If I change it to an Indian,
she’ll follow my choice. I suppose it is a compliment, but if I said nay, it’s
very like a cloud then she’d agree and then if I changed it to but very like a
camel, she’d be right behind me. Irritating! I’m with Hamlet on this one:
get your own ideas and stop jumping on my band waggon, whether you are
Chinese, Danish, or home-grown.