A right royal punch-up
Ian Martin thinks it’s time we set up a wrestling match between Lord Rogers and Prince Charles
Monday Reinvent ‘social engineering’ for the 21st century by calling it ‘sociological software design’ and putting it in a gritty urban font.
Tuesday Redesign Tehran, making it morally legible to the West, redacting areas of unpleasantness and tinting everything green in a vague gesture of general solidarity.
Wednesday Lunch with my old friend Loaf, the mayor of London. As usual, we converse in antique Latin – NOT that new-fangled medieval kind.
We’re at a discreet private dining club in Soho. No need for the Cadbury’s Creme Egg costume he’s obliged to wear in public. Olympics sponsors won’t find him here. I wanted to ask you, I say casually over pudding, if you’d be a guest speaker at this year’s Tamworth League summer ball…
‘Oh, I see where this is going. You want to use me as some sort of lever in your twisted plan to shift the capital city back to the Midlands…’ Not at all, I say, looking quite hurt.I insist on continuing the conversation in Old English; his Anglo-Saxon’s very rusty. By the time the bill arrives, he’s agreed to do a harmless after-dinner gig. At least, that’s what he thinks…
Thursday So, it’s come to this. A dawn-misted vegetable patch in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Richard and Charles facing each other five yards apart, stripped to the waist and about to go all Ken Russell.
Yes, improbable but true. The future of architectural correctness is to be decided by a wrestling match. Half past five in the morning, bloody freezing and it’s game on: The Prince Regent of Neo-Georgian Britain vs The People’s Champion of Luxury Property. I’m with a crowd of bystanders minding the towels, the first-aid kit and the brandy miniatures.
Opposing retinues of Royal coatholders and twittering high-tech sycophants snarl and flap at each other in a half-hearted way. More importantly, the Queen is there in her pyjamas. And she’s talking to my business partner Isis de Cambray, the celebrated magic arborealist. I can’t see much as they’re being informally kettled by a ring of secret service bouncers, but fingers crossed Isis isn’t buggering up the pitch. It could be the gig of a lifetime. Our consultancy – Eden’s Psychedelic Head Blossom – is in with a chance of redesigning the gardens here.
‘Mummy! Come and watch! I’m about to defeat modernism!’ shrieks Charles. She peeps through the human security cordon and gives a regal wave: ‘Mind my bloody vegetables!’
Isis flashes me a quick thumbs-up: great.
Let’s get this preposterous Defining Moment In Architectural Theory out of the way, then Isis and I can start firming up our Buck Pal extreme makeover. A footman sounds a hunting horn and the wrestling match is underway.
Charles and Richard slowly circle each other, making pirate noises and hurling insults at each other. ‘Come on then, you monstrous carbuncle, look at you, you’re so tanned you’re ORANGE. Your face is like a ruddy Halloween PUMPKIN, ha ha ha!’ ‘Well that’s rich I must say coming from a jug-eared philistine layabout who’ll be remembered chiefly for crap dancing and ADULTERY!’
I shoot Snorty a glance. She exhales cigarette smoke calmly, but I can tell she’s imaging a leg-sweep at the top of some stairs.
Finally they’re in a clinch, grunting loudly but comfortable with their sexuality. Alas, they’ve wrestled themselves into a reed bed and have sunk in up to their knees. It’s the worst of all possible results, a draw. An equerry calls it and the two gasping, spittle-flecked combatants are heaved out. A great sense of foreboding gathers over the crowd as Richard’s choppered out.
How did you get on with Her Nibs? I ask Isis. ‘Pretty well. I think she likes me. She’s very interested in our ideas. One tiny snag, she thinks it’s 1956…’
Friday Absolute panic in the world of epic space. With no clear winner in the Charles vs Richard manboob playoffs, what is everyone supposed to THINK? Up until now it’s been simple: po-faced or smartarse, pick a side. Suddenly all is chaos, and intellectual anarchy.
Saturday Isis texts from Buck Pal. ‘Good vibes from HM the Q. Promised outline ideas next week. She’s still 1956-y. Downside: weeny bit racist. Upside: modernist revert’.
Sunday Newspaper review in the recliner. There’s no architecture coverage at all, as the debate about how very expensive apartments should look is officially suspended. Charles and Richard have agreed to a rematch. Grudge Croquet, here it comes.