Ian Martin invents ‘smart metres’
MONDAY. Design a new ‘ring fence’ for British banking, giving it a contemporary, porous feel. I’ve specified slackness in the tension so the fence ‘jingles’ slightly like loose change, or the memory of a childhood Christmas.
TUESDAY. My simmering feud with the lying shit Blair is set to ignite, again. Lord Mandelson’s lawyers have seen the proofs of my forthcoming
book, Tonymandias, on how the two of them turned Britain’s public realm over to property gangsters. This is ‘libellous’ apparently.
Bollocks to both of them. I will resist all attempts at censorship. I’ve been extremely even-handed in my analysis of events, quoting several ex-Cabinet ministers who are still full of praise for New Labour’s controversial decision to delegate the procurement of civic projects to organised crime.
‘Say what you like about the Krays,’ offered one former secretary of state, now lobbying his successor on behalf of a global construction corporation. ‘They kept order. It was safe to do business, as long as you didn’t cross them…’ This, remember, was the era of whatever works, and free at the point of delivery, and fit for purpose. Visionary, entrepreneurial stuff.
Another politician, now in the Lords, remained defiant about privatisation and PFI. ‘Who CARES if Branson and his mates are running our national railway?It must be a success, see how full the trains are! So WHAT if public buildings now cost eight times the going rate? It’s a painless, invisible transfer of money from taxpayers to shareholders. Let’s GROW UP.’
People forget how the whole process passed seamlessly from Tory to Labour. Our nickname for that ludicrous dome, for instance, went from Heseltine’s Tent to Mandelson’s Flan in a matter of weeks. I wonder how people will view this legacy in a hundred years.
‘My name is Tonymandias, King of Spin… look on my Millennium Dome, it’s now a pop tent’.
WEDNESDAY. To the outskirts of Moscow, where Novy Tamworth is finally taking shape.
There’s a better class of gangster in Russia. Forget those scowling Brit billionaires with their private Caribbean islands. Successful businessmen here are building the good life in English-style gated communities.
They have a saying in the Russian development community: you know you’ve made it if you’re assassinated, imprisoned on trumped-up charges, living in London for obscure accounting reasons, or the proud owner of a half-timbered new build called The Dickens.
Novy Tamworth sets the bar high. A cluster of identically bespoke gigantic chalet bungalows with Tudoresque chimneys, Gothic windows and Georgian front doors. We had to change that to ‘South Ossetian front doors’ in the brochure, don’t ask me why.
THURSDAY. I’ve been asked by the Coalition to devise an energy-saving system for new homes.
The brief says ‘the solution should be compassionate, cost-free and eligible for a squiggly logo incorporating the prefix ECO…’ It’s a bit of an academic exercise as only 17 new homes have actually been built this year.
However, the government has now converted a notional figure of housing demand into a ‘projected build matrix’. I think this is a subtle signal to produce an energy-saving system with semantics, which obviously is pretty straightforward.
FRIDAY. Cracked it: ‘smart metres’. They look exactly like ordinary metres on a floor plan but are ACTUALLY TWO CENTIMETRES SHORTER.
It may not sound that much, but think of the space you save when working out the volume of a room. ‘Smart square metres’ warm up more quickly than old-fashioned square metres, thus knocking £££s off the domestic consumer’s heating bill!
Plus, smaller buildings save on materials and general faffing about. That means increased margins for beleagured housebuilders, who are very much in our thoughts at this most difficult time.
SATURDAY. Open House London. Spend the morning visiting various landmarks, icons etc with Darcy, my friend the architecture critic, and his trophy dachshund Bauhau.
So many stairs. A lot of low-level whimpering and growling from my companion, but it’s Bauhau I feel sorry for. That Post Office Tower sheath he’s wearing looks historically accurate and quite restricting.
SUNDAY. Trying to catch up with paperwork in the recliner. Keep getting interrupted by loud ringing endorsements for my innovative, sustainable new town
‘Groundbreaking!’ ‘Game-changing!’ ‘Transcendent!’
I’m flattered of course, but after lunch I need to get my head down. So I mute the trilling and switch incoming hyperbole to ‘vibrant’.