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Strategic Mentalising Unit

Ian Martin wins tacit approval for his Reboot of the Seven Kingdoms masterplan

MONDAY Still cantilevered from last night’s Comedy Architecture Awards after-party.

Some great nominations this year. Lots to laugh at. But everyone agreed there was a worthy winner. Callbach and Peipwurch’s ‘Reveal House’ explores a contemporary narrative of mistaken identity with a new twist on the spiral staircase, and an imposing neo-Classical double-entendre up the back end.

TUESDAY Bugger. Just looked over my two big problem-solving gigs from yesterday and realised I got them completely mixed up. According to my notes we should be arming postal workers and privatising Syria.

WEDNESDAY Meeting of the government’s Strategic Mentalising Unit, a freestyle think-tank convened to posit the unknowable. I’ve been co-opted to help with Operation Stitch-Up, an ambitious programme to reunite the North and South of England for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.

Of course it’s all a bit of a pantomime. The Coalition thinks it can win the next general election by persuading everyone that the two halves of the country give a flying toss about one another and that the best thing to do is award billions to a consortium of Tory donors to make the trains go faster.

This stuff is just for the punters. Behind the scenes, I’ve won tacit approval for my Reboot of the Seven Kingdoms masterplan - a return to traditional 8th century values via a federalised UK.

Under the 7K2 initiative, an economically cleansed London would be the centrepiece of New Anglia, a vast gated leisure and retail complex full of unsmiling people who look a bit like Jodie Foster. Meanwhile, cultural and administrative functions would move to a restored Tamworth, capital of New Mercia, where preparations are already well underway to create a Staffordshire version of Brasilia but with ale and pies.

And what shall be the destiny of New Wessex? That is a question of interest only to the four tribal leaders of The People of The West, whose beaded hair and timeless, loose-fitting garments are eloquent of an ancestral magic mediated these days through craft shop franchises, ‘surfer-turfer’ cuisine and hedgerow management. Nobody cares what happens to New Wessex, is what I’m saying.

Right now the priority is to make the North of England more attractive to the business community of London and the home counties. Remember, we’re building a high-speed rail link. For that to be viable or sustainable or roll-outable or whatever it is this week we have to persuade the target group of ‘BMWs’ (bankers + and media wankers) that it’s worth their while travelling beyond Milton Keynes. A quick refresh of the North is required, eg:

  • Fully enclosed tram system in Redcar so nobody has to look at Redcar.
  • Sheffield’s public libraries converted into wine bars with retro-fitted ‘book nooks’ where young professionals with ‘hairchitecture’ can relax, shout at one another and mock the very ideas of books and silence.
  • Jamie Oliver restaurant within a Tate within a Westfield shopping centre within an otherwise ignorable Carlisle.
  • Enhanced weather with wi-fi connectivity in Warrington.
  • High speed ‘hotel trains’ allowing passengers the opportunity to see the North ‘safari style’.

THURSDAY Designing a new headquarters building for Google. Stuck for inspiration, so I do a wide-spectrum search on Wikipedia for ‘compassionate fascism’. Goldstrike. By lunchtime I’ve harvested a shitload of info on how to moderate monumentality with soft money and nursery colours. I chuck in a Spotify playlist of non-threatening hip-hop for good measure.

FRIDAY Designing a new headquarters for Wikipedia. Mind’s a blank, so I do a wide-spectrum Google search for ‘unverified provenance’. Bingo. By lunchtime I’ve assembled enough crowdsourced architectural wisdom to bang out a prototype live-work hivemind in built form, with hundreds of interconnected cells and a big empty space in the middle. I articulate the spatial ambience with a Spotify list of easy-listening punk.

SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Grand Theft Autonomic Urbanism 5, Teleological Meta-Identity Cloning 5, after reciprocal cross-platform shootout.

SUNDAY Trawl through the papers in the recliner. I try to avoid international news these days. There are only so many pictures of blighted neighbourhoods you can look at.

I mean, where’s the community spirit? If on the way to the shops everyone picked up just one piece of rubble, the world would be on its way to being a better place. Selfishness and a wilful lack of understanding. That’s what’s killing us.

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