A month or two ago, I very much enjoyed reading this review of a trendy new restaurant in London's Hoxton district, penned by the celebrated reactionary wit, A.A. Gill. I have attempted to use it in a couple of classes since, but the humour, the attitude, the frame of reference all tends to pass the Chinese by - even mature, sophisticated professionals like my students. Gill makes merciless fun of the right-on 'green' pretensions of this restaurant, deriding environmentalism as the new PC-ness of the Noughties. I especially loved the climax of his tirade: " I could have said, look, if you really, really care about the environment and the teddy bears and stuff, don't open a restaurant, just scratch a living from hedgerows and fart into paper bags. A green restaurant is a contradiction in terms. Eating out is conspicuous consumption; it encourages all sorts of unnecessary emissions, and fun. If you really care about the environment, you eat raw stuff in the dark in a tent."
Anyway, I was reflecting on this again yesterday, and it suddenly occurred to me that a 'green' theme might be a great idea for a new Beijing bar. Or rather, an anti-green theme.
We would heat the place with coal-brick stoves in winter, and turn the thermostat on the air-conditioning down to 18° C in the summer (while keeping the coal stoves burning). We would use the largest, least energy-efficient fridges and freezers available. Chain-smoking would be aggressively encouraged, with packs of the cheapest, smelliest, most carcinogenic local cigarettes given away FREE. All other items sold would be sourced from as far away as possible and flown in by jet. We'd have a Tibetan antelope pelt and other endangered species memorabilia on the walls. And a 'Sponsor Illegal Logging' collecting box.
I was thinking of calling it Carbon Bigfoot. In this crazy town, I think it could find its niche....