Emma works for a property company. Her job is to advise rich clients on how to revamp their houses. It’s something that, in the wonderful metropolis of London, they all want to do, because however palatial, however recently made over a house may be, it’s very unlikely to suit the taste of its new owner. There are simply too many types of new owner, coming from different cultures. The Italian buyer will want a different kitchen from an Asian one; Russians have different ideas about bathrooms from Greeks.

I’d thought that the prevailing style of the age was parsimony, as families battle their way through the austerity years without spending more than they need. Not a bit of it. A thousand flowers bloom. London is, I suppose the better for it. There’s a certain excitement to be derived from having a ringside seat at this carnival. Get outside the capital for a moment, however, and it all looks barmy. As some people fret about personalising their homes, others struggle to find homes at all.

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The scale of the problem needs, my friend argues, radical solutions. We need more affordable dwelling units, but why equip each of them its own bathroom and kitchen? Provide communal services, for people to share. Costs would tumble. Not even Emma thought it would catch on.