When posh comes to shove
Ian Martin hunts an honour
MONDAY As usual, I’ve humiliated myself by scanning the New Year Honours List for my name even though I’m pretty sure I would have heard something in advance.
I despise the honours system. So archaic and random and would an OBE for services to epic space really have killed them? I’m not letting this happen again. My New Year’s Resolution is to acquire an honour, stat. I resolve to look into it.
TUESDAY Lunch with Rock Steady Eddie the fixer. ‘No doubt, mate. Having a bit of geography after your name and a Lord in front opens a lot of doors. Let’s say those chips on your plate are global market opportunities and I’m an Anglophile client. Watch…’
It’s an impressively thorough analogy.
We agree the odds on my being ennobled are long. Even the more obscure honours – Knight of the Wardrobe, Reeve of the Palanquin, Underbaron of the Middle Empire – are beyond my means. ‘They want half a mil in party bungage before they’ll even put you on the list. Leave it with me…’
Oh God. ‘Leave it with me’. The four most ominous words in the English language, along with ‘it’s not very contextual’ ‘in my humble opinion’ and ‘sort of Grand Designsy…’
WEDNESDAY Plenty to think about from yesterday, so shift the bulk of my creative thinking until tomorrow.
I am however keen to develop the ‘Grand Designsy’ brand as an upmarket graffiti identity. Spend the morning knocking out some banging posh stencils, man.
THURSDAY Design competitions. It’s a racket. A closed shop. The latest one is typical:
‘Architectualiser sought for new higher education campus in China. Haughty sense of spatial entitlement essential. Dame or Lord preferred, would consider CBE. Must have public school accent and cruel laugh’. Nothing at all about an education portfolio or indeed any reference to professional training. It’s ridiculous, you could just get classy actors to promote your global marketing campaign.
I call Eddie. ‘Relax. I’m all over this like a 15 tog duvet, mate. Decided to make you a Companion of the Royal Lunch. See you at the King’s Arms tomorrow. Plus I’ve found us a sleeping Edwardian practice partner…’
Slightly resentful that I’m never the sleeping partner in any of these enterprises. I do however require a long afternoon nap as I’m out very late tonight.
Fast forward to the small hours, and I’m in a boutique part of north London with my old friend Amy Blackwater the environmental activist. Unlike me, Amy has skilfully managed her public profile and is now the doyenne of stylish oppositionality. Her activism is ‘premium’ these days: Waitrose, not Morrison’s. She’s feted by the thinking artisan crumpeting classes. Her success rankles almost as much as the balaclava I’ve borrowed from her, which is slightly too small.
Still, she IS helping me with my stencils. We have to be stealthy, what with the CCTV. And the film crew shooting a documentary on Britain’s Most Celebrated Activist. At one point she says ‘I like to think of myself as more of a disquietist than a terrorist…’ while keeping a straight balaclava. Over the course of three hours we whack up the following stencils on London’s urban canvas:
- A fox in a pork pie hat laughing at a Nando’s queue.
- A rat in a onesie making lemonade and keeping calm.
- A big fat gypsy cat with the dead bird of ‘irony’ in its mouth.
I sign each one ‘Grand Designsy’ using Farrow & Ball’s new Yellowist range.
FRIDAY Pub. Rock Steady Eddie’s found a chemistry student in Hull called Abby Downton who for £500 cash will be photographed in period costume to front our new global marketing campaign.
‘Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady’s chamber… Abby Downton Top Class Spacemakers can turn your dream into an aristocratic reality!’
We’ve even got an emblem: two beagles in sunglasses flanking a chevronned pier.
More good news. My old friend the Prince of Wales, the highest-profile toff I know, has agreed to have nothing to do with the project, so that’s a major potential embarrassment avoided.
SATURDAY Lovely. Pop-up hipsters are now desperate for a customised Grand Designsy stencil on their gaff. I plan to take their money, send them a ‘Beware Of The Media Wankers’ stencil and tell them to spray it on themselves.
SUNDAY New Year’s Reclination.