Reinvigorating the countryside with exciting new dreams
Ian Martin answers the chancellor’s call
MONDAY. I’m in rapid response mode following the chancellor’s call for ‘a much more imaginative’ use of rural land, including the green belt. Ideas so far:
- Massive airport ‘toll runway’ alongside the M40.
- Air rights above all fields to encourage vertical thinking.
- Relaxation of gun laws in designated ‘stag zones’.
- Analogue underground Cotswolds.
- New folds, curves and creases of opportunity in East Anglian flatlands.
- Pubs upgraded to hubs, hubs upgraded to nodes.
- Security contractors G4S to smooth transition from ‘access’ to ‘trespass’.
- Wormhole to future to be constructed in Epping Forest, creating literally millions of new jobs in the future.
TUESDAY. Moral dilemma. The Coalition has asked to me to project manage a nationwide purge of council tenants who now find themselves living, wholly inappropriately, in gentrified areas of high property value.
The solution is to get rid of these ‘social squatters’ and sell their homes to the deserving rich. Part of my job as project manager would be pretending that local authorities haven’t been banned from building council housing for a quarter of a century. Another part of my job would be to command these local authorities to build ‘affordable homes’ somewhere much shittier for their freeloading tenants.
Obviously I’ll take the gig. My dilemma is in how I should badge this process in my head, whether to call it ‘demographic cleansing’ or ‘corrective punishment’. I don’t suppose it matters.
WEDNESDAY. Working breakfast with my fixer, Rock Steady Eddie. This month’s ‘no-brainer’ is communal eco-housing. ‘Green living, shared services, no-brainer’ he says through a medley of Full English. ‘All them Guardian readers with their bloody dried apricots and their Italian lessons. What happens when the kids leave home? And the partner’s buggered off to live with someone who doesn’t mind getting pissed at lunchtime occasionally?’
I am listening to him, but also idly wondering what life would be like without him.
‘You not having that other sausage? So there they are, cash-rich with all the original features, right. But nobody to moan with about Murdoch or capitalism or dolphins with cancer, whatever it is this week. They are DESPERATE to hang out with like-minded sanctimonious arse-aches. Believe me son, if there’s one thing Guardian readers love, it’s looking down on people for shopping in the wrong supermarket, or driving the wrong motor or, God forbid, reading the wrong newspaper…’
On and on he goes as we weave from café to pub to bookies - ‘Pony each way on Biennale Suprematist. Her form’s sketchy but she goes well on common ground, six to one, tasty odds’ - to pub again. ‘Lesson learned. Never back a nag with an architectural name, bound to be late. You finishing that scotch?’
THURSDAY. I realise Eddie has a point after all. I mean, Telegraph readers like to look down on the riff-raff, don’t they? That’s why there’s a market for gated communities.
And Guardian readers like to look down on gated communities. That’s why there’s a market for communal eco-housing. I do some preliminary research and discover that it’s even more popular and oversubscribed than I thought. Eddie rings. He’s discovered the same.
‘Stand on me - they’re snapping them up off plan, mate! That must mean a deposit, right?’ We share a loaded silence. Could you, I wonder, sell communal eco-housing at an even earlier stage? It’s crazy, but in theory… ‘You finishing that sentence?’ he says, eagerly.
Eddie puts the word out via the usual channels. Guardian Personals. Posh end of Twitter. Those eco-community forums where people swap old bunk beds for a couple of bottles of decent rioja. We’re selling ‘notional eco-homes at the pre-conceptual stage’ in beautiful countryside locations throughout Britain. Everything framed by the chancellor’s new ‘dare to dream’ approach. A group of soulmates find a nice spot for an eco-community, then they pay me and Eddie to ‘think it up’ and we’ll take it from there.
FRIDAY. Whoa. Bunch of retired lecturers, jazz musicians and amateur botanists want a zero-carbon hamlet ‘with views of Stonehenge’. Eddie’s warned them that will require a Platinum Thinking Package but they’re still keen/dim.
SATURDAY. Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Ironic Copying 2, Ironic Copying 2. Match abandoned, twice.
SUNDAY. Platinum downtime in the recliner.