Ian Martin proposes a titanium ziggurat to replace Buckingham Palace
MONDAY Strategy meeting with my latest client, Tim. He’s a LibDem MP and now head of a policy hubtank called, with delusional hauteur, Capital Futures: The Challenge Of Hope.
Tim and his colleagues are furiously thinking about what London should be like when his party takes full control after the next general election. To his credit, he does giggle a bit when we finally make eye contact.
This is all about reinforcing the idea that ‘libdemics’ offers a viable successor to the ‘neo-ecolibrionics’ of the Tory party. Political commentators have already spotted signs that the LibDems want to present a clear alternative to their Coalition partners. As Tim says, ‘you could see Dr Cable going starey-eyed defending the Royal Mail sell-off, indicating bold dissonance. And Mr Clegg’s just warned that privatised schools need proper standards, which I can tell you has exploded like a GRENADE in Cabinet…’
I’m pretty sure I can improve the approval rating for Tim and his mates. According to the latest societal index they’re a percentage point above door-to-door fish salesmen. If Clegg just put on a funny hat he’d double his score.
TUESDAY I offer the usual futuristic mind-baubles. You know - how London might look after three terms of Liberal Democrat rule. People love this stuff. First of all I do some vague renderings. The buildings in the background are non-definable but the people in the foreground are unmistakably liberal and democratic. Pavements: compassionately shared. Plazas: judiciously navigated by egalitarian pedestrians in natural fibres. Café customers: humane.
Now for the set pieces. A twisty apartment block with ROUND DOORS. An innovative giant cloche over Peckham, cutting the crime rate by creating a sustainable rain forest. A titanium ziggurat to replace a Buckingham Palace now reassembled in the Far East. Rainbow colours everywhere. A brand mash-up of Tussaud’s and the London Eye, allowing visitors to view LibDem London via a series of vertical carousels half-filled with rough facsimiles of Victorian murderers, unremembered pop stars and minor European royals. Domestic roofs covered in breeze energy panels to ‘catch the wind’, like they did in the 60s when all the liberals were much better looking. A massive wobbling arch constructed from what looks like flowing lava above King’s Cross, saying ‘Welcome To LONDEM!’
I lean back in my chair waiting for the inevitable - indeed customary - plaudits. Tim looks apologetic, never a good sign. ‘Sorry dude, but we’re looking for something a little more …prosaic. When I said affordable votes, that was really shorthand for affordable homes.’
WEDNESDAY I stamp petulantly back to the atelier of my mind, where I mentally sweep everything off my desk and drawing board while a late Beethoven quartet plays loudly in my whatever, hippocampus, I haven’t got time to imagine a detailed plan of my mind.
THURSDAY God this is hard. By ‘affordable homes’ of course Tim means semi-luxurious apartments for childless managers priced out of the market by the billionaire gamblers London has been incrementally sold to by spineless politicians since the Bag Lady and then the lying shit Blair plus now I have a fucking headache and Tim has rung to say Capital Futures: The Challenge Of Hope has had another smart casual meeting and they’d like 270,000 affordable homes in London please in the next five years oh really.
FRIDAY Sulkily bang out a masterplan for affordable votes/homes in Narnia/Londem.
Obviously all the good lumps of land were grabbed long ago by tax-dodging Spearmint Rhino types so we have to ‘think clever’, eg move government money from housing benefit to construction investment, encouraging landlords to evict more poor people and get some classier tenants.
Also, we can convert container ships into hipster ant farms and moor them off Shoeburyness with a fast rail link into town or something. Or lower the spec and fill them with the displaced housing benefit people.
Additionally, the Lib Dems can simply demand that the mayor does something, like create housing on all the land owned by the Greater London Authority, including on top of existing housing, in parks, on relatively quiet sections of hard shoulder, underneath bridges, etc.
Tim very pleased to have something to ‘urgently call for’. Let’s hope someone urgently listens.
SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Towering Blockage 3, Gyratory Embolism 4.
SUNDAY Retire to the recliner and then scuttle into my mind-atelier to tidy up a bit.