How Amy's Essex treehouse became a renewable trailblazer
Instead, I put a proper roof on and turn it into a massive powerhouse of 'renewable art'. Imagine all the world's best neon installation pieces gathered in one gallery, but without that 'squandered electricity' guilt. Heel-strike generators would be fitted under the main floor and the pavements outside. The energy harvested from 30,000 pedestrians could power 6,500 lightbulbs, or a major Dan Flavin retrospective.
Ah, you say, but isn't one of the Battersea Design Criteria 'the need for the project to be deliverable’? Oh, I answer, what are you even talking about?
TUESDAY. Lunch with the increasingly tiresome secretary of state for entertainment, Azzy Bifter. In another life he'd be doing his media studies finals about now.
We are in LIVERPOOL, cultural city of obligatory capital letters and Azzy's home town. He's gone back to his Mam's for unconditional love and comfort food. The press are being horrible to him. Not, he insists, because he's been making schoolboy jokes about civil rights campaigners but because he's a Scouser. 'Here's me, yeah...' he says, indicating a chip. 'Devoting me life to dhe cultural wellbeing of dhe nation with Olympics and digital telly and like dhat. And here's dhe media...' Grated cheese all over the chip version of him, like an ugly clump of derision.
Spend all afternoon being driven round LIVERPOOL with Azzy, looking at culture. Much of it is barely discernible through the driving rain, adding to its enigmatic value. We're gazing listlessly at a sculpture - giant Simpsons characters atoning for the Industrial Revolution - when his Mam rings to confirm fish fingers for tea. 'Me favourite...' he says, choking back the tears and staring hard through the rain at the public art piece, which seems to be staring hard back at him and possibly even taking the piss.
WEDNESDAY. Ignore Azzy's answerphone messages inviting me to his Mam's. He wants to show me how far he's got on Grand Theft Auto 4, and to outline plans for Trafalgar Square. The plan is to double plinth capacity by 2012, allowing for more live TV 'penalty artouts' and corporate philanthropy.
THURSDAY. Drinks with my extreme green activist friend Amy Blackwater. She's incensed, though to be honest that is her default emotional setting. She's cross about 'eco-towns'. Not because of their infantalising effect - try saying 'eco-town' without sounding like a toddler - but because she hated them first and now everyone's at it.
'Mains water? Street lighting? Sewers?' she says, furiously processing cider and crisps through her balaclava, 'It's all just boutique living for tossers who think they're part of a green revolution if they walk to the shitting OFF LICENCE! GRRR!' Chill out girl, it's not like 'eco-towns' are ever going to happen. The whole tinky-winky po-faced adventure is just rhetoric, the latest in a series of straight-to-website ideas devised by Whitehall wonktanks. 'Eco-town'. How passionately can you feel about anything that requires quote marks?
There's something else eating away at her guts like bad bacteria. 'Yeah, apparently I'm some kind of grrr property owner now. Bastards...' she hisses, barely able to hold her roll-up. For years she and a handful of other hardcore veganistas have inhabited a collection of tree houses not far from Stansted airport. These days it's a thriving hamlet - or quornlet - attracting the attention of weirdie beardie types everywhere. And, suddenly, estate agents.
Turns out that while house prices in the rest of Essex are in freefall, Amy's little settlement is hugely desirable. It's composed of trees, reclaimed timber, fresh air and organic vegetable gardens and according to one RTPI carnivore, it's worth a fortune.
FRIDAY. Details emerge of the government's 'green energy revolution'. An area 'the size of Essex' to be planted with trees and other crops to produce biomass. It's true then. If they simply replace Essex with plantlife, Amy's sylvanian squat will be a pathfinder scheme.
SATURDAY. More unbuilt Corb on the way. A new city, Extrapolis, is to be masterplanned from his napkin doodles.
SUNDAY. Cultural realignment in the recliner.