Ask not what the private sector can do for you...
… they’ll want a 40 per cent stake, says our man with the string course and the coarse jokes, Ian Martin
MONDAY. I’ve been asked to give this year’s Archigram Lecture at the Institute for Plasmic Arts.
The question I’ll be rhetorically asking myself is: how would the Sixties Radicals stage their creative revolution if they were awake today? Notes so far: change ‘geodesic’ to ‘analgesic’, replace ‘jazz sensibility’ with ‘post-hip-hop recovery position’, update hippie Smithsons guff about summoning beauty from brute materials with new slogan ‘Truth = Concrete’.
Also, time to re-examine the Walking City concept. By all means put a megalopolis on stilts. But these days you’d keep it stationary and have a travelated landscape scrolling slowly past beneath it.
TUESDAY. Exhausting morning spent with an eclectic bunch of New Age sycophants, brainstorming ideas for Charles’ forthcoming speech to the RIPBA.
It seems like only yesterday that he stood there at Hampton Court and said local authority planners were worse than the Luftwaffe because at least the Luftwaffe had an overview, ‘which was neo-classical, by the way!’ Can it really be 25 years since he called Richard Rogers ‘a grotesque, grinning gargoyle spouting urbanist drivel from the parapet of a well-loved cathedral’? Since he said Mies van der Rohe had a face like ‘a Bakelite wireless set with, ridiculously, a big cigar sticking out of it’? Since he described Denys Lasdun as ‘that lumpy, grumpy, tear-stained tramp who’s always hanging round the South Bank’?
Camilla hates architects, a commendable quality in anyone
Happy days. The reminiscing takes us through to an exquisite formal lunch. Highgrove game soup with ‘credit crunch croutons’. Highgrove organic Beef Christian with sensibly grown vegetables. Highgrove sodding whatever, pudding of some kind, don’t ask me - I’m outside having a fag with Snorty.
She hates architects, a commendable quality in anyone. ‘God knows why Charles is doing this, the silly arse. They all sneer at him and make jokes about his kilt…’ I try to change the subject, but she’s in full Loyal Missus mode. ‘He’s better off with the farmers. They’re all buggers and miserabilists. They love him.’ She’s given me a great idea.
I make my excuses and leave.
WEDNESDAY. Email exchange with HRH. As usual this means an equerry sending an email to himself, printing it off, cabbing it over and waiting for a reply. I apologise for disappearing yesterday, but explain why. Later, the two drafts of his speeches to architects and farmers arrive.
THURSDAY. Add jokes to the two HRH speeches, then swap them. Next month he’ll be telling farmers, to great acclaim, how he prefers drystone walls to the proposed luxury flats next to Chelsea Barracks. And he’ll be telling architects how the humane social engineering of pigs in Cumbria has produced the best sausages he’s ever tasted.
The private sector is just those tossers of Dragon’s Den
FRIDAY. To the pub, where I meet Dusty Penhaligon the conservationist. We have to decide what to do with that lock-up full of explosives, grappling hooks, protective clothing, Gordon Brown party masks etc. All had been assembled ready to launch our pulverising assault on Tecton’s Finsbury Health Centre – a mercy killing to prevent
it falling into the hands of the private sector.
‘Taken over by the private sector. What’s so wrong with that?’ I hear you ask in your impeccable post-Marxist whine. I assume you understand what ‘private sector’ means. It means one of those tossers off Dragons’ Den. Probably that moisturised knob who sits at the end.
Dusty’s on my wavelength: ‘Yeah, imagine Finsbury Health Centre going on Dragons’ Den and that bloke sneering and saying OK I’m prepared to restore the municipal chic of your exterior but I’ll have to scoop out your guts and turn you into a Champney’s Metro holistic barefoot luxury spa with world music and herbal essences and cranberry smoothies and Kate Moss and all her fucking friends flopping about giggling at their own Twitter messages…’
But for now at least, disposal of the centre is on hold. We agree that if the sale is still suspended in July we’ll blow up something else to make a different architectural point. On the shortlist at the moment: ‘Holyrood’, Battersea Power Station, MPs’ second homes, that nightmarish statue in St Pancras station, everything built in Salford since 1987.
SATURDAY. Left blank for Sixties Remembrance Day.
SUNDAY. Email catch-up in the recliner. Spam: delete. Spam: delete. Charles: reply with less rude joke. Spam: delete. Pic of man with dachshund, both dressed as Gherkins, subject Missing You: delete. Spam: delete…