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Modernism inquest verdict: death by auto-erotic asphyxiation

MONDAY. Leisurely morning in the recliner. Remind self that urbanism is not a style at all. It’s actually just a series of timeless place-making options. Then remember I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time.

TUESDAY. Lecture at the Royal Academy of Inferred Arts. When I was last here I gave a talk about Modernism. It was radical, polemical. A real threat to the fuddyduddies and sad daddios of architecture. Oh yeah, AND to all their establishment bullshit. I asked a lot of very difficult and polarising questions. One, I remember, was ‘Modernism – Right or Wrong?’ It sent shockwaves through the profession, triggering a tsunami of determinist backwash. No wonder then that, after 15 years, I’ve been invited back.

Of course the world has changed. The Academy no longer has a basement pub and smoking is not permitted on the premises. The prevailing architectural style has evolvedfrom ‘eclectic but pointless’ to ‘funny but heartless’. And there’s a much more sophisticated audience, you can tell by their trousers. This time the title of my lecture is ‘The Inevitable Colon: Architecture’s Voyage of Self-Discovery’.
Afterwards a few of us meander our way to St Pancras station, which now boasts Europe’s longest champagne bar. In order to experience the sheer linear power of this important new landmark, we drink alone at 10m intervals. At such moments you can see why London is the capital of the world.

WEDNESDAY. Live Pecha Kucha at Tate Tamworth. Twenty of the most thoughtful people working today in the performing, visual and inhabited arts stand in individual cubicles on a giant carousel. It takes exactly 6.4 minutes to complete a full turn, allowing each participant 20 seconds to explore their own genius. My friend Darcy the architecture critic does his wriggly dance, the Pecha Kucha-cha-cha, while shouting out a list of inspirations. These include Muslim interiors, polished concrete and Darcy’s Tibetan terrier, Sausage.

THURSDAY. Lunch with my old friend Tub Hagendaas, the anti-architecture architect’s anti-architect. He’s a bit depressed as usual, but that’s just part of ‘the enigma that is Tub’. Today he’s bored as well, which has given him the right hump. ‘The notion that architecture can be validated by anything other than its own absence is pff... laughable!’, he mis-sneers, and a lump of chewed bread plops into his Virgin Mary. Which is just as laughable, to be honest.

Poor Tub. He’s broken all the rules, then reassembled different ones from the wreckage. He’s turned irony inside out. ‘There is nothing left to do. I have sucked architecture dry. I now cast it away. In a short time it will be nothing. A husk of empty dreams, perhaps. Perhaps merely the dream of an empty husk...’ I’m sure he’s right but wonder if we could order our food now, I’m bloody starving. Tub’s phone goes (ringtone: Van der Valk). It’s the first of many interruptions from his agent, who’s been instructed to find some new challenges.
13:12 Jamie Oliver’s looking for someone tall to front a campaign for free-range retail space.
13:24 Tub offered role of ‘Larkin’ in Curb Your Newurbanism, a TV comedy of manners in which a bald curmudgeon blunders around Milton Keynes committing one theoretical faux-pas after another.
13:31 Gordon Brown wants a smart, aspirational barcode for the new ID cards.
13:38 Would Tub endorse the new men’s fragrance, Hugo XY/XL? ‘Its blended scents of ozone, stir-fry, bamboo and wet cement embody the spirit of modern male civil obedience...’ I leave him to it. By the time I’m having coffee he’s still reconstructing his starters.

FRIDAY. Monthly meeting of the 20th Century Interactive Society. This has been set up by my mate Beansy to conduct ‘real-time social archaeology’ but it’s a useful earner too. He collects fares from our small group of assorted kiosk-huggers and Brutalistas, all dressed like extras in a film by Antonioni. We cram into the pentangle then – whoosh – we’ve timeshifted back to the 1960s, some old lady’s flat in Ronan Point. She’s a little surprised to see us, but puts the kettle on anyway...

SATURDAY. Nearly all of us safely back. Beansy contrite, but pleased he got the money up front. Next month he plans an excursion to Coventry during the Blitz.

SUNDAY. Recliner. Briefly reflect on Liverpool’s massive cultural footprint, then doze off.

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