I ghost the comeback of HRH The Phantom Menace, and experience a brand new Shardenfreude
Ian Martin is the Prince of Wales’ ghost
MONDAY. My plans for a crowd-funded urban arts hub have been rejected by the planning philistines as ‘too vague’.
The non-specific nature of an arts hub is OK. The sketchy notion of where funding might come from is acceptable. But apparently my CROWD is too generic.
Solution: put in a few guys wearing alpine hats and kilts, maybe make some of the women a bit more, whatever, ‘sassy’.
TUESDAY. To Lincoln’s Inn, where an intriguing alliance of activists is coalescing, with expert legal advice.
‘Enemies Of The Shard will focus a wide spectrum of dissent through the elongated prism of commercial architecture,’ according to a draft manifesto. The list of signatories reads like a Who’s Who of epic space troublemaking.
There’s Amy Blackwater, the extreme eco-headbanger in her trademark balaclava. And Carshalton Mortlake, the architectural protester and founder of improvised comedy planning act This Is Not A Swimming Pool. My old mate Dusty Penhaligon the conservactionist is in too, along with ‘Scalesy’, the vocational trespasser who went to the top of the Shard at night in a bobble hat.
It’s an exploratory meeting, chaired by famed counsel Gavin Bleach. A lot of talk about harnessing the power of civil disobedience, but it degenerates into competitive sulking. Meeting postponed.
WEDNESDAY. Wooooh! Ghosting a new book for the Prince of Wales. It’s actually a sequel to A Vision of Britain, his howl against contemporary architecture. Working title for this one is Revision of Britain.
When Vision came out in the 80s it was a revelation. The great empty cathedral of HRH’s life, under construction for decades, had at last acquired its defining spire. Charles finally ‘had a point’. He was to lead a sort of People’s Popular Front for Neo-Classicism. As luck would have it, this style was also popular with his friends, the banks, conservatives, corporate clients, the hunting community, the PFI set and the Spectator.
HRH’s central argument hasn’t changed: ‘I need to stand for SOMETHING for God’s sake, whatever that may be’. But now he’s keen to distance himself from the book’s more embarrassing ‘1980s’ arguments – their padded rhetoric, their bleached poodle-perm conclusions. Among revisions I am currently ghosting:
The right angle is rubbish. Clearly this idea must be rethought in the light of bulbous, swooping blobs that burp in the face of neo-Classicism all over the world, thanks to provocative new software.
Ordinary people are marvellous. Prior to 1989 Charles had met very few ‘real people’ and assumed they were like ‘real vegetables’ ie ‘all knobbly and lovely and covered in dirt’. He was surprised when community architecture brought him into contact with ordinary organic people, who turned out to have virtually no interest in Palladian villas or Scottish dancing.
Architects don’t understand how the world works. This was a powerful central argument at the time. Architects live in a privileged world, cocooned from the everyday experiences of knobbly free-range people. They know nothing about common yearnings for appropriate scale and the natural order of things. On reflection, it’s not that convincing coming from a sausage and biscuit baron with several homes and a fleet of classic cars.
I need to sign off the revisions asap so I can invoice but, worryingly, Charles isn’t taking my calls. I hope he’s not ‘going dark’ again.
THURSDAY. Reconvened Enemies Of The Shard meeting. This time, Gavin tells everyone to shut up and presents his plan to have The Shard forcibly removed from London’s skyline ‘on the basis that it is committing civil disobedience by being massive and ugly’.
The tables are about to turn for the squares and breadheads of the City.
FRIDAY. The half-expected email is waiting for me first thing.
‘HRH wishes to thank you for your most valuable contribution, but regrets that Revision of Britain has, for now, been abandoned. In time, the Prince hopes the original volume will deteriorate into a picturesque ruin. He has decided to communicate his ideas less ambiguously in the future via the medium of watercolours and telekinesis…’
I accordingly delete him from my life, again.
SATURDAY. Five-a-zeitgeist pop-up tropeball. Uppity Serendipitism 3, Enfabulated Post-Downton Urge Theory 4, after extra time and shirt-swapping.
SUNDAY. Adjust my personal mindset in the recliner, removing all non-loadbearing psychological barriers and blurring the notions of consciousness and unconsciousness, probably, I may have drifted off.