Recalibrating the Olympic legacy, recalculating the Ally Palacy
Ian Martin brainstorms some disaster icons
MONDAY. The irritating good fortune of my old friend Isis de Cambray continues. She’s floated her magic arborealism empire on the stock market and has become a powerful, insufferable billionaire. I don’t begrudge her a bloody thing and certainly don’t regret allowing her to buy me out of that magic arborealism business we started all those years ago. Great, so she went on to become the landscape architect of choice for the so-called ‘1 per cent’. Bloody good luck to her.
She’s now the ultra-capitalists’ garden pin-up. They’ve even got a Twitter hashtag: #OccupyWalledGarden. Their cruel enjoyment of gorgeous contemporary private grounds is made more exquisite if they contemplate the urban poor, who often only have a geranium on the windowsill or a pretend balcony.
I’m sorry to say it is exactly this cruel flaunting of landscaped wealth that has persuaded Isis to rename her global brand GARDENFREUDE INC.
TUESDAY. In the morning, design a giant must-see destination piece in the shape of an ox’s head for a site just outside Oxford. In the afternoon, design a huge inhabited sculpture of a ram’s head for a site near Ramsgate. In the evening, design a massive geodesic head and shoulders of George Osborne for a site in the middle of Cockermouth.
WEDNESDAY. I’m imagineering a sustainable future for a certain large Italianate building on a hill in north London. It’s in the Alexandra Palace area, that’s all I can say.
I have two notional clients: the notional public, and the notional shareholders of a leisure development consortium based in Doha. The trick is to ‘reconcile’ these two sets of client needs. Notionality will be my watchword.
By mid-afternoon I’ve solved the problem. Correction, we don’t say ‘problem’ any more. I’ve reconciled the issue. Inside, the mystery building will be sectioned like a bull diagram on a butcher’s wall. Notional uses include merchandise presentation, niche gambling, extreme dining, experiential visiting, observational space and franchised air, available by the cubic metre.
The exterior will remain free at the point of visual delivery, as it always has been. The notional public is welcome to look at it. Job done. Correction, notionalised.
THURSDAY. Lunch with Rock Steady Eddie the fixer. He’s very excited about the new Titanic visitor centre in Belfast.
‘You seen it? Brilliant. A whopping great sort of glazed ocean-going whatever, icon. But containing, yeah? Exhibition, retail and banqueting space. And it looks like it’s being shunted into a huge cartoon, whatever, iceberg! Fantastic AND classy. Designed by the bloke who did that fuck-off shopping centre in Essex, so he knows a bit about human tragedy. You finishing those sausages?’
We brainstorm some disaster icons, converting geographically-based catastrophic loss of life into valuable tourism revenue. I could tell you what we came up with, but I’d have to kill myself.
FRIDAY.Meeting of the Olympic Rebadging Taskforce. Minister for Games and Legacy Suzi Towel in the chair. Minutes, prayers, apologies for absence, and a Mexican wave. As usual, we shout ‘Yay!’ when someone says the word ‘Olympics’. Yay!
In the middle of the table, a noisy and frankly intrusive digital countdown clock is clunk-clicking the time left before the END of the Games. That’s because, according to Suzi, ‘In our end is our beginning. As the Olympics – yay! – finishes so the even more important Legacy begins…’ An awkward silence. Are we supposed to shout something when someone says ‘Legacy’? A show of hands votes this into an extraordinary session of Any Other Business.
Meanwhile we debate Agenda Item 1: The Urban Rebuilderation Pledge. Six years ago we solemnly promised that the Olympics – yay! – would bring economic prosperity to the ‘entire country’. In fact, we promised it ‘bigtime’. We estimated, hand on heart, that the games would generate ‘£50-60 billion’.
That looks a bit optimistic now, to be honest, so we hard-think the Urban Rebuilderation Promise through to teatime. Agreed: the Olympic Torch Route will also be the designated Urban Rebuilderation Route. We draft a press statement expecting £50-60 billion of development to be enterprised along the torch route and leave it at that.
SATURDAY.Emergency session of the Olympic Rebadging Taskforce. Double time, casual dress. By teatime we’ve shortlisted three things to shout whenever someone says ‘Legacy’: ‘Jubilee!’ ‘Fricasee!’ ‘Legasoarus – grrr!’
SUNDAY. Awake between 10 and 4 only, due to Sunday spatialising laws.