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Life imitating art is a lot harder than it looks

Ian Martin’s creative licence expires

Monday. What a terrible start to the week. I’m being sued by a client who accuses me of  ‘false narrative accounting’.

The job was a modest pedestrian bridge at a suburban railway station. I’m not allowed to say which one (superinjunction) but the scheme sailed through planning, thanks to a very persuasive written and visual presentation. Unfortunately it is this very presentation that forms the basis of my client’s case.

Exhibit A, the rendering.

I decided to use a slightly disturbing and surreal watercolour painting of the project, with lots of ‘blending’ and ‘splodging’.

The client inspected the bridge shortly after completion and found it ‘completely unsmudged and not in the least surreal. Passenger traffic was non-amorphous, with clear edges to everything’.

Exhibit B, the design statement.

I said the lighting would ‘weave a spell of weird psycho-illuminescent magic at night, making the bridge deck appear to levitate’.

The client went back in the evening and found it ‘looking very much where it was in daylight. I thought perhaps I was not in the right mood so, after a couple of stiff ones in a nearby hostelry, I returned. The bridge deck still looked perfectly embodied, even when I squinted’.

Worse, my artistic licence expired in February.

Tuesday. Chelsea Flower Show. My hippy gardener friend Isis has won the Morally Urban Greening Prize for her provocative piece, ‘Reversal’.

She’s rebuilt a small terraced house, left the roof off and converted it into a lush, succulent, multi-layered, polyvalent mega-organism. ‘Reversal’ brings together stacked vegetable gardens, hydroponic sliding doors, a miniature energy orchard, a suspended waterfall, predictive composting and an insect ziggurat.

The back yard contains a small family shed. The idea, says Isis, is to ‘lower humanity’s expectations in line with our feelings of shame and self-loathing. We should no longer consider ourselves temporary curators of Earth’s Bounty, but janitors. It is time we knew our place, which is in the shed’.

Wednesday. Lunch with my old mate Beansy the mad futurologist. He’s desperate to be on the Creative on Sunday’s Cool List, an annual audit of 50 startled-looking people in jeans who’ve had brilliant, world-changing ideas.

‘I need something clever yet simple,’ he says. ‘Clockwork radio. Water purifiers. A decent garlic press. Something step-changey, game-changey, yeah? Like with the Inca civilisation. Once they started using llama shit as a high-altitude fertiliser, boom, they were off.’

I tell Beansy the world’s still waiting for a globalised solution to HUMAN waste.

Of course, Beansy has one. ‘Just cart it all over to, say, a) the Sahara or, say, b) the South Pole. Carry on dumping it there, chuck in millions of seeds, loads of Dettol round the outside, let’s keep things civilised.

‘In next to no time you’ve got a) Brazil 2.0 or b) probably a frozen mountain of human shit which, OK, is a hostage
to fortune with global warming, so let’s say a) to be on the safe side…’

I’m obliged to point out that nutty visionaries have always banged on about fertilising the desert. That, and desalinating the Caspian Sea and turning it into a massive salmon farm. He’s not listening.

‘Now you can’t really send millions of tonnes of sewage by road. Or by sea. Wait. Zeppelins! Bloody great architect-designed airships, full of shit! Zeppelins, man!’

Idiot. I can’t see Brazil 2.0 in the Sahara being a runner, but then I also think there’s something distinctly off-putting about a big balloon full of human 2.0 heading anywhere.

Thursday. Brainstorming with Beansy, trying to work up a prototype Hindenturd.

It suddenly occurs that he might be able to help with the false narrative charges. I mean, if a way were found to retrofit the railway station with smudged ambience and a levitating bridge, we could keep all this out of the courts.

Friday. To Superinjunction Junction. Beansy’s brought his molecule distresser.It looks like a portable cropsprayer, not very convincing, but a few squirts high into the air produces a fine, static mist that makes everything ‘run’ in a satisfyingly painty way.

Floating the bridge free from reality has got us stumped, though. Hypnosis looks like the only option. We’ll wait for nightfall, then try some mind-control on passengers.

Saturday. Beansy and I released without charge after questioning.

Sunday. Lateral thinking in the recliner, then everything goes watercoloured. I dream of aerial armadas.

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