Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Going nowhere - and loving every minute of it
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The Independent Online

I'm having what the continentals call a balcony holiday. Going nowhere is the greenest holiday you can have, but even if it wasn't green, I'd still do it. Happily, sometimes one's inclinations coincide with being eco-friendly. A rare thing, I am sure you'll agree.

Patty, my Republican friend from America, is staying. From the news, which tells us that Americans have cancelled their holidays here due to the bombings, she surmises she is the only American in the country and is thus the bravest woman in Londonistan.

Despite her epic bravery, the rain has been getting her down, and she's trying to persuade me to take a cheapo flight to Sardinia for some sun. I showed her my column in which I promised never to fly anywhere again (well, for at least three weeks) in a bid to reduce my carbon emissions, but she was unimpressed. "But who would know?" she asked. My reader would be very shocked, I replied.

Actually, I doubt anyone would be remotely interested, but I'm not giving up my balcony holiday and sweating with hordes of escapees at Britain's clogged polluting airports to stay somewhere less comfortable than my own home.

Instead, I took Patty to the seaside, to St Leonards. Jago, my Green Party pal and occasional property tycoon, insists that St Leonards will be the new Brighton and gorgeous flats on the seafront are available for less than £85,000. He reckons that an overdue tax on air fuel will make travelling by plane ruinously expensive, and we'll soon all be holidaying in English beach resorts. The south coast will become fashionable and expensive, so buy now while stocks are cheap!

Patty and I duly set off in my car - I couldn't inflict an English train on her. How I wished I had; the traffic was so bad it took an hour to get to Balham and a further two to crawl to the coast.

We looked at flats in St Leonards, and all were filthy. "Even if you did your own flat up," mused Patty, "you'd still catch bed bugs from all the others." The entire town is a House Doctor-free zone, so now probably is a good time to buy - if you are very patient.

"Do let's go to Sardinia," Patty pleaded on the drive home. "Certainly not," I said. "You haven't seen Bexhill yet."

Apparently, Bexhill is the new Hastings. But Hastings is still pretty grim, too, despite the excited attention of property journalists.

The trip wasn't entirely wasted. I had another mangetout moment and decided to sell my gas-guzzling car and replace it with an electric one. Trouble is, I'm having no luck. The car has a few dents, the bumper isn't too secure, and "one careful lady owner" may not be strictly accurate.

So if you see a Mazda MX5 soft-top - if you are a hairdresser you'll be fighting over this baby, believe me - with a sign on it: "ONE CAREFUL LADY OWNER - ALL OFFERS CONSIDERED", trust me, it's a bargain. Any damage is purely superficial. You have my word on that - as a politician.

Julia Stephenson was the Green Party candidate for Kensington and Chelsea in the last election. She hopes to stand again at the next one if she is not arrested for misrepresentation under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968