All those years of 'special advice' - it's like talking to a brick wall
Ian Martin is ousted as special advisor, in favour of the nation’s number two hate figure…
Monday . Drinks with conservactionist Dusty Penhaligon. But first he drags me to a meeting of the Euston Archers, a campaign group dedicated to a) the preservation of Radio 4 and b) the restoration of the Euston Arch. Objective A’s going well. Now the Archers omnibus on Sunday is available as a podcast it no longer clashes with church attendance, so the campaigners have the full support of nutty Christians everywhere.
Objective B is trickier. I mean, it’s GREAT that they’ve found most of the Arch bits, but do we really want it back on Euston Road? It seems an awful faff just to get revenge on the late Harold Macmillan. And it would have to be squeezed into a more crowded, heartless world. Worse, something horrible has to happen to make it financially viable: deluxe sausages and pasties, or trinket shops. And that’s what killed Euston Station’s once-glamorous concourse.
The campaigners themselves are an eclectic bunch. Some sit grimly in Georgian costumes, needlessly fanning themselves. Others look suspiciously like underemployed PR types. My heart sinks when one of them stands up and starts bleating about how they’re going to turn the Euston Arch into a ‘superbrand’. That’s it, I’m off to the pub.
Tuesday. Decide to launch a rival campaign to have the Euston Arch restored as a national treasure, but at Ebbsfleet instead of that ridiculous cartoon horse. It would announce to international travellers ‘you are now re-entering the Golden Age of British Railways and are being held in a queue, thank you for your patience…’
Wednesday. I am fuming - literally and metaphorically - on the pavement, outside the international headquarters of epic space provider RSFK. Summarily dismissed as ‘special adviser’ after years of loyal service! Worse, I’m to be replaced by Sir Harry Bungalow, the disgraced banker. Oh yeah, way to squander all that globalised goodwill, RSFK.
Who ‘turned things round’ in St Petersburg? I did. How amused people were when RSFK unveiled their Gazbil Tower, then how horrified when they realised it
wasn’t a joke. The plan to hook what looks like a giant Value Range Cubic Zirconia Pendant on to the city’s priceless World Class Heritage Necklace went down badly. ‘This isn’t a landmark, it’s money laundering in built form’ was one particularly unkind headline. ‘A 400m-tall Monument to Neurasthenia’ was another.
My special advice proved invaluable at the time: forget the architecture critics. They object to ANYTHING that looks like a stack of cheap jewellery, they’re all such
bloody snobs. Start listening to them, you end up making placatory amendments. Suddenly your 400m tower, previously ‘invisible’ thanks to its special air-coloured
glass, is wearing a preposterous little brick hat. Or the fenestration’s been made more ‘Orthodox’. Or there’s a sustainable alfalfa farm in the bloody atrium. And
THEN they tell you the revised design is ‘high-risible’ or whatever this week’s putdown is. No, my special advice was to tell the critics to SHIT OFF, and concentrate
on proving that the architecture was LEGALLY correct.
Once the legal case for the tower’s brilliance had been validated by the client, local politicians sympathetic to the client and the client’s private security force, everyone was happy. The critics were silenced. Yet this is the thanks I get. Dropped in favour of the nation’s Number Two Hate Figure. Only Piers Morgan is more loathed.
Apparently Sir Harry will bring his ‘rare skillset’ to RSFK’s international operations. Maybe this is the first step to publicly owned architecture after all.
Thursday. Remain in massive sulk.
Friday . Now everyone’s playing the Euston Arch game. Rock Steady Eddie the fixer has private clients in Abu Dhabi and Russia interested in having it as a historic garden feature. Prince Charles has made discreet enquiries to see if it can be relocated as a Gateway to Poundbury. A Texan billionaire wants it rechiselled to read ‘HOUSTON’.
They’re all doomed to disappointment. I hear on the London Olympic grapevine that there are plans to locate the arch at the entrance to ‘Newston’, formerly Stratford. I can say no more, as I’ve just been appointed ‘special adviser’.
Saturday.Five-a-zeitgeist football. Toadying Holism 1, Corporate Gangster Chic 3.
Sunday. Horizontal brainwork in the recliner. Especially gloomy this afternoon. Oh my God - someone’s put a bastard PAYWALL up, right outside my window!
Brr. This is beyond ‘dark’. This is ‘Murdark’…