Preserving the ruins of our heritage, reviving the ruins of our high streets
Ian Martin aims for the moon, but hedges his bets over the Richmond Palace bunfight
MONDAY This week’s hot ticket is a lecture by Swiss architect Echter Author, who has just won the Spritzer Prize for Consummate Craftsmanship in the Service of Epic Space.
As he advances carefully to the microphone he looks every inch the sombre architect-genius, from his bamboo spectacles to his contoured clogs. Using a charming, rackety old wooden carousel he shows slides of the work that has propelled him very, very slowly to the top of his profession.
A leading member of the so-called International Wooden School, he yields to no one in his love for wood. ‘See here, my bathroom is wood. The bath, the basin, even my little shower cap. All is wood. Wood, wood, wood…’
Don’t get me wrong. He’s a stand-up bloke. But then his trousers are made of wood.
TUESDAY Dilemma. I have to decide whose side I’m on in the Richmond Palace bunfight. There are plans to erect a posh new home with an eco prefix near the historic ruins. Every smugarse in a blouson will be in favour: the ‘starchitects’.
Historian and curmudgeon David Starkey is very much against, and will rally every nutty nostalgia freak and anti-modernist in the RIPBA register: the ‘Starkeytects’. I decide to hedge my bets and sneer along equivocally with the ‘sarkytects’.
WEDNESDAY To a traditional East End boozer (Capaldi’s Tapas Brasserie in Canary Wharf) for a sitdown with Rock Steady Eddie the fixer.
Until recently Eddie worked almost exclusively in the Middle East, assembling mysterious development deals in the semi-fictional world of ‘Do Buy’. Now suddenly the tide has gone out, exposing a glittering shingle of abandoned cars at the airport and the strewn jetsam of worthless contracts flapping listlessly along the beach.
Like fixers everywhere, Eddie needs new territory. A place where ludicrous property deals can be made without recourse to the laws of economics or common sense.
‘What I’m looking for…’ he says, fingering the tiny gold axe nestling on its chain in his chest hair, ‘…what I’m looking for is like a development theatre where the rules are sketchy, yeah? Where everything before the “but” is bullshit, but where all the bullshit after the “but” walks the walk, yeah? You know, where the streets have no name etc…’ He specifically wants to talk to me in my capacity as mayor of the Moon.
To be honest I’d forgotten all about it until he reminded me.
Although the Moon is officially a US Protectorate, I discovered a legal loophole some years ago that allowed any civic entity on Earth to infer municipal sovereignty over a future federal lunar government. I registered myself as lawful mayor just before the loophole snapped shut, and received an authenticated certificate of mayorality via the internet. Now’s the time for ‘us’ to cash in, reckons Ed. ‘Plenty of room for manoeuvre on the Moon. Venture capital’s got to go SOMEWHERE, innit?’
THURSDAY Lunch with Holly Boxwood, secretary of state for communities and bins, who’s looking for ways to repopulate that other desolate, low-gravity environment – the high street.
Holly’s already been on breakfast TV with her own perky masterplan: turn empty shops into ‘neighbourhood resources’ to stop town centres becoming ‘magnets for crime’. By resources she means ‘galleries or advice centres or something’. Vague is the new vogue.
I suggest alternative Extreme High Street prototypes. 1: A wireless vegetarian co-op with on-premises plant abattoir. 2: A fake iPod shop that looks easy to burgle but when the little toerags get inside they’re trapped by a powerful tractor beam. A magnet for crime, but in a good way.
FRIDAY Strategy meeting with Eddie to sketch out some ideas for lunar development. We should definitely get an artist to do an impression of what the Moon will look like in 3009.
We could issue bonds to finance giant biodomes full of ski slopes, Top Shops and holiday lets. Convert the craters Tycho, Copernicus and Ptolemaeus into a vast 4X4 off-worlding zone. Ooh, what about a design competition for a Museum of Earth?
‘Great. Let’s start talking it up,’ he says. ‘I’ll flush out some hedge fund managers. You solicit some 140-character design ideas from your wanker mates on Twitter.’
SATURDAY Voicemail from Eddie: ‘Don’t suppose we could get Banksy up there to do some graffiti, ramp up the interest?’
SUNDAY Partial eclipse in the recliner.