Rethinking London as a molecular clump of sad pretension
Readiness to be awed by 'cutting-edge design'. Stab vest. A sense of being a privileged guest in what the 2008 Oligarch's Gazette calls 'the world's most vibrant and civilised city after Copenhagen, Madrid, Munich, Tokyo, Zurich, Helsinki, Paris, Seoul, the floating part of Dubai, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Beijing, Montreal, Tamworth and Berlin'.
I've been invited to look at a radical new 'green' development in Clerkenwell, a discrete agglomeration of luxury flats for wealthy singles. If you factor out the environmental impact of building them, they're ecologically majestic. Triple-glazed, insulated from the rest of the neighbourhood, each 'passive' apartment can be heated for a month by the sanctimonious glow of a single dinner party.
My beloved North recedes in the rear view mirror. I leave behind a stubborn urban landscape where Earth's Precious Resources are conserved by not demolishing terraced housing. Where residential density is increased, and carbon divided, by everyone budging up a bit to make room for extended family members. I know, it's primitive. We might as well be living in a Flintstones cartoon.
TUESDAY. From my mate Darcy's nanopad to the Clerkenwell Passive it's about two miles but the journey takes all morning. London's new architecture looks like petrified money. Everyone seems miserable. House prices are falling. Bad news for the bankers and wankers and unelected fat-necked greedybuggers who have a controlling stake in PFI Britain. And bad news always gets passed on.
Now the lying shit Blair's off brokering peace in the boardrooms of America, I've noticed how many Londoners resemble him. Their faces seem to have been pickled, then baked, like unscrupulous conkers. Of course, Darcy and his horrible little architectural dachshund Bauhau are enjoying New Conservatism's sunset days. They can stop pretending to be 'oppositional' and embrace the coming era of compassionate self-interest.
Today, Bauhau is wearing his Smithsons outfit – a latex photomontage of Robin Hood Gardens and the slogan 'Yap yap! Save me!' Actually, he looks a bit unsteady on his feet…
WEDNESDAY. Helicopter ride with Sir Gerry Anderson, who's now favourite to take over from Richard as London's epic space tsar. Every now and then he'll point out an empty bit. 'We could put something there, say...' Towards the east you can see new development inching uncertainly along the Thames in both directions. From this height, the evidence is incontrovertible – London is actually going up its own arse.
THURSDAY. Emergency meeting of the Olympic Rebadging Task Force. Cultural auditors from the Department of Entertainment have returned from a fact-finding tour of Athens and report that most of the Olympic infrastructure there is padlocked, empty and falling apart. Now my friend Loaf, the Mayor of London, has added his own €0.02's worth. Why, he asks, are we building unsustainable venues for obscure sports when we should be creating permanent resources for Londoners? His list of suggested activities includes the Eton Wall Game, experimentally gay rugby and fencing in Latin.
He's clearly a berk. But we do have to resolve what Suzi Towel (Minister 4 Olympics Yay) calls 'legacy issues'. After some discussion we agree to designate the post-Games Ping Pong Pavilion as a 'community resource'. The Sumodome can be a 'brownfield development opportunity'. We could offer the kayaking lake to that French water company. And the synchronised aerobics pavilion can be rebadged as a mixed-use, non-elitist graffiti park and public lavatory.
FRIDAY. Yes! I've made it on to the London Design Fretwork Panel! Now I and 25 other designers can get to work refining our unbuildable proposals for a theoretical future capital. We all had to complete a tiebreaker: 'If I were asked to design London, I would…' The judges were clearly impressed with my answer. '…wear a powdered wig'.
SATURDAY. Fretwork Panel prep. Sketch out a pontoon hamlet by Westminster Bridge with advanced reverse-cellular algorithms and wired urban neurality. Oh shut up, you idiot. It doesn't HAVE to mean anything. I'm going to add the prefix 'eco-'…
SUNDAY. Home again in The North. Create 'smart windows' by cleaning them for the first time in ages.