Social retro-engineering with a neo-peri-peri-Classical twist
It’s competition - and unpaid interns - time for Ian Martin
Monday. I see that lying shit Blair’s got planning permission to convert his £5.75 million Buckinghamshire stately home into a (private) People’s Palace of peace and reconciliation. ‘Not too showy’ reports Luxury Living magazine. ‘There’s little evidence of gilt…’
Good riddance. I worked up a do-over for the place years ago, when Tony and I were still talking. I remember local planners being parochial to the point of wilful yokelism. Their gormless questions: what’s an ‘endless pool’; why THREE cinemas? On and on. You’d tell them: it’s a circular swimming lane that validates the user’s sense of being on a journey; for cinematic BALANCE.
In the end Tony just couldn’t be arsed. ‘Let the squares play their class war mind games, man’ he sighed, and simply installed the pool and cinemas in his East Jerusalem Peace Envoy’s Residence instead.
Tuesday. Design a brilliant new shopping centre for Sheffield. Unfortunately, some stupid Saxon remains are in the way. Bollocks.
Wednesday. Excellent. English Heritage has revoked listing for the Saxon detritus: ‘Its construction and detailing are standard for the date it was built and it lacks high quality materials or attention to finishes…’
Thursday. Sketch out some ideas for a ‘bicon’. It is, I’m sorry to say, a cross between a beacon and an icon.
My clients – a posh new campaign group called The Capital Ideas Forum – are on a sensibly tight budget. The bicon will exist only as a jpeg on a website (still under construction, running late, they’re building it on a cheap bit of the internet and the terrain is quite uneven).
The CIF’s a radical pro-business alliance, so struggling to be heard in Westminster over ‘Rent-a-Mob’ shrieking that the welfare state’s getting punched to death. What marks CIF out from other business pressure groups is its sophistication. Most members are not just captains of industry but Patrons of Architecture. They’ve commissioned some of the most striking corporate office spaces and aspirational apartment developments of the last decade. Yet exposure to the civilising effect of architects has elevated their sensitivities to beauty and morality. For instance, they don’t call for anything so vulgar as a ‘level playing field’. They call for a ‘sound stylobate from which capitalism may flourish and be lofted into the air upon fluted margins of profit’.
Now they’ve decided they need a rallying symbol, and the search is on to find a monument to the Battle of Broken Britain. I have to say, commemorating the triumph of coalition capitalism over collective justice seems a bit previous as we’re only just into 2011, but they seem to be pretty sure of how the narrative will run. Plucky little Spitfires of enterprise prevailing over the fascistic, welfarist Fockers.
Hm, finding an appropriate shape’s difficult. By lunchtime I’ve knocked out something that looks like a cobbler’s last. Regardless of the angle I view it from, it still doesn’t make sense. I need something ‘battle-y’ for my bicon. After lunch I do some deep research on the internet. Can’t use the White Cliffs of Dover as a bicon theme, that’s been bagged by the BNP. The RAF have got dibs on all actual Battle of Britain imagery. Plus, I really should create something traditional and…wait a minute. Of course. The monument should celebrate the victory rather than the struggle, right? By teatime I’ve cracked it, with the assistance of a young woman in Yorkshire auditioning for the post of unpaid intern in my exciting organisation.
Friday. Submit my bicon design. It’s in the very latest style: neo-peri-peri-Classical. A big square building representing the Citadel of Capitalism, based on something in Athens, I wasn’t really listening when the unsuccessful applicant for that unpaid internship was wittering on.
The building’s killer feature is its caryatid porch. There are several figures bearing the weight of victory, and they’re all very contemporary. A teenager, humbled and chastened by the withdrawal of her Education Maintenance Allowance, stares blankly out at us. So too does a comical union member, gurning through the yoke of industrial reform. There’s an exhausted mum-with-buggy, a shirking council house blocker, plus the usual vibrant mix of structural ethnic scapegoats. Classical social order.
Saturday. Torn between nicknames for my new financial skyscraper. The Cornichon? Or The Sex Gristle? Let Twitter decide! *consultation*
Sunday. Create horizontal pantheon for one in the recliner.