British Values and National Treasures
Ian Martin attends an extraordinary meeting of Space Invaders
MONDAY Honoured and delighted to be shortlisted in this year’s Royal Institute for the Pop-Uption of British Architects Awards (London Housing category) for my innovative ventilated coal bunker.
TUESDAY Blue sky drinkathon down the pub with the fixer, Rock Steady Eddie. I really value these freestyle discussions where, unshackled from our usual business agenda, we can roam freely over a range of subjects and get pissed.
Items discussed today: if ‘all design is redesign’ does that mean that ‘all payment is repayment’? In which case who’s the creditor? And how can a building have ‘fluid geometry’ without risking collapse in a world of apparently arbitrary mathematics?
I say discussed, it’s really me thinking aloud while Eddie reads a newspaper and talks through a mouthful of my chips. ‘Stone me, you seen this? It says here China’s used more cement in the last three years than the USA did in the whole of the 20th century! Do WHAT?’
That is incredible, I have to admit. It’s not just the sun that’s setting on the American Empire, clearly. And once a cement race is started, there’s no stopping it.
Soon India will use more cement in an afternoon than China does in a week. Then Nigeria will use more cement in a minute than India does in a lunchtime. Israel will entirely concretise in the time it takes Nigeria to open a bag of Ordinary Portland…
‘It’s a mad world chief, no question,’ sighs Eddie, now fully carbohydrated. ‘Cemental. Ha ha, your round son’.
WEDNESDAY British Values Charts Day. Always exciting to hear David ‘Fluff’ Cameron counting down the Top 40 at Prime Minister’s Question Time.
As expected, Property Equity remains the Number One British Value for the 8,662nd week. Up seven places this week at Number Two, it’s Shareholders’ Dividend, while Close Ties With Saudi Arabia stays exactly where it is - frozen in fear at Number Three.
THURSDAY Lunch with Loaf, my old friend the mayor of London. As is customary, he wears his trademark privatised cycling helmet which this week is sponsored by an investment management company (slogan: Your Future, Head First).
As usual, we converse in Latin.
At first of course I get the usual jowl-wobbling small talk. Branson’s in on Mudbank Airport, as long as it’s badged Boris Virgin International. The Ajerbaijani mafia want to buy the National Portrait Gallery. Heston’s curating a ‘scoffhub’ on the South Bank this summer and the menu’s just an anthology of atomised starters ‘in those nitrous oxide balloon thingies you get at Henley Regatta…’
Then Loaf casually mentions that ‘a spook pal’ has got wind of some harebrained scheme to remove the Shard from the London skyline.
He doesn’t make eye contact, but would like to think this is the sort of nonsense I’d run a mile from. ‘Just casually enquiring whether anyone’s invited you, let us say, to join some rag tag and bobtail anarchist group of total bloody nutters sworn to blow up everything bigger than the Gherkin …’
It’s at this point he fixes me with his famous ‘Homerian baleful stare’.
I go extravagantly wide-eyed and express the sort of theatrical outrage and hurt you’d get from a senior policeman at a select committee meeting. ‘I can’t believe you asked me that, Loaf! Good God!’ And with that I flounce from the restaurant. The only way I could look guiltier would be to accidentally drop a kilo of Semtex and a map of the Shard with all the stress points marked.
Memo to self: avoid Loaf for a while.
FRIDAY Extraordinary meeting of Space Invaders, the group convened by a mystery billionaire anarchist to destroy the Shard. Of which I’m plausibly not a member.
We need to get a wiggle on. This tottering excrescence of barren, sequestered wealth is actually up for a DESIGN AWARD. Once it wins formal acclaim from the humourless dickheads in brightly coloured trousers, it’s within spitting distance of National Treasure status.
It must be destroyed before it becomes part of our cultural heritage. If Alan Bennett starts liking it we’re stuffed.
SATURDAY Talking of cultural heritage, I bloody resent how our five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football has been Russianised. The final score was Oligarchitectural Capitalism 3, Patriarchitectural Sexism 2, but then the Orthodox Church bounced in during extra time like Conchita Wurst and overturned it.
SUNDAY Longlistlessness in the recliner.