Q: Why is China like a compulsive gambler? A: It has Tibet
Danny’s not interested. He has to devise a damage-limitation strategy after the debacle that was Gordon In China. ‘We need to position Britain as a nation of ideas. Learning lessons from the Beijing Olympics. Outdoing them. Swisher buildings with... coloured lights. Bigger armed guards. Cleaner air. Plus we want all the contracts, trade deals, investment and so on to come here...’ He swats away my cynicism. ‘Building the moral high ground involves a lot of time, money and civil engineering, OK?Look, China’s not impressed with the PM. Fat bastard refused to play table tennis. And he was on his mobile to HQ all through the banquet. Hardly touched his panda mignons. All ideas welcome...’ Git.
TUESDAY. Norman emails the first renderings of his new urban hypertower. It’s imposing, ruthlessly contemporary, exquisitely clad and already nicknamed the Autograph. Where will it be built? His secretary icily informs me that the auction is being held this evening.
WEDNESDAY. Send my China notes through to Danny. I tell him reciprocity’s the key. Brits are masterplanning a so-called ‘Ecomegalopolis’ near Blingnang, so let’s invite Chinese firms to do the same thing near Hastings. It’ll tie up the environmentalists for months. And what about a joint
initiative on community empowerment? If China were to assimilate a sizeable section of our prison community into their welfare-to-work projects, we could redefine Occupied Tibet as a massive and exemplary Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Another idea: let’s legalise scrap-metal theft. In return, all
Chinese right-to-buy mortgages have to go through Northern Rock.
THURSDAY. Oh dear. Apparently Danny’s team filtered out the sarcasm and Gordon loves it. Danny owes me lunch. ‘But listen, while you’re on. The Russians have gone moody now. Some bloody great Norman Foster thing going up in Vodkagrad or wherever. There’s a moratorium on anything British until we shut up about polonium teacakes and Chechnya...’ I make a noise like the telephone’s tapped, and hang up.
Screen calls by going down the pub. Get back and put the finishing touches to my straw-bale ‘skysaver’. The bales are to be left exposed, bringing the rough kiss of the countryside to Hackney. My client sold all the flats off plan, including the penthouse. Yes, it’s pushy and innovative – nobody’s tried 22 storeys before. We could have gone higher, but air is a precious resource and we are
FRIDAY. They’re making cookery compulsory in schools, to encourage salad. This will only embolden those berks who want to put architecture at the heart of the national curriculum to encourage walking.
Why stuff architecture into the blank sulky faces of schoolchildren? They’re not interested, and even if they are it’s none of their business. Concentrate on the other end of the welfare state, and encourage the frail and elderly to take it up. Old people lose memory at an alarming rate, and spend hours every day trying to remember useless things. Learning about the mysteries of epic space would be something new and stimulating. Instead of falling asleep in front of ITV and nearly choking on their teeth, they could discuss the Romance of the Baroque Era etc. Memo to Self: write to/for Mail on Sunday.
SATURDAY. To Bleasdale, a new ‘sustainable’ cultural suburb of LIVERPOOL, designed by some Scandinavian architects to last for the whole of 2008. I say architects. They’re called w:Aft, in five different fonts, and listed in the International Directory of Placemakers as ‘cultural quartermasters’ so
they’ve obviously done this sort of thing before. Bits of neon everywhere and a Dream Bus full of mobile planning workshops in second gear.
I’m sick of ScouseFest already. Just because it’s the ‘capital’ of culture of everywhere, why
am I legally obliged to type LIVERPOOL until 2009, when I can use upper and lower case again? Oh, they think it’s so amusing – reviving a stretch of the Leeds and LIVERPOOL Canal and calling it
SUNDAY. Morning, blue-sky thinkathon in the recliner. Afternoon, grey-sky drinkathon in the pub smoking yard.