When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my TV Times
MONDAY. To a secret Whitehall location for a meeting of the Rebadging Task Force. There's only one item on the agenda. What do we do with 'The Big C'? At the moment we've got a Department for Culture, Lottery and Sky Sports but nobody knows what the first one means.
The word from central recasting is 'keep it real'. Everyone nods, uncertainly. Ben the moderator explains that the 21st Century is now officially well underway and we're all moving into something called 'C21/version_2.0/gov.uk [beta]'. Education has been renamed Schools, Kids and Loved Ones. Employment is Skills and Specialness. 'We simply can't afford to alienate decent, hard-working people with middle-class concepts. We're 10 points behind this week as it is...'
Stupid, stupid Gavin from Communities suggests we could accessibilise Culture by putting it in a jolly font. 'Something like Comic Sans. Or Beesknees. Or - gangway, brainwave - what about spelling it with a K?' Idiot. We're not trying to launch a death metal band. Rosemary from Homeland Vision pipes up. 'Or, we could spell it COOLTURE. That would engage people in The North, who say it like that anyway, and obviously it's cool, so...'
At this point the group's token architect, Sir Leonard Sothiety, storms out. 'Barbarians! Why not do away with Culture altogether? Newspapers and television have already given up. They file Arts under Entertainment. What not just call it the bloody Department for Entertainment?' The door slams behind him. We all look at each other. Job done. Early lunch.
TUESDAY. Submit my idea for the new £2 million, 50m sculptural landmark planned at Ebbsfleet in Kent. I'm proposing a Sustainable Martin Amis built from landfill. The materials are cheap, but I'll be charging £3,000 an hour. Cleverly, it would be financed from unclaimed housing tax breaks. The number of zero-carbon homes under construction is currently exceeded by the number of Girls Aloud, so there's plenty of wiggle room.
WEDNESDAY. To the Royal Institute for the Protection of British Architects. I'm here to see the president for an informal debrief. No notes and total deniability, as usual.
The latest incumbent is Sunil Gaviscon. He's very dapper and laid-back. RIPBA presidents usually spend their first few months mincing around in a theatrical rage over some obscure pet issue. Recent presidential campaigns have highlighted the following: ethical minorities (including women and urbanists); a workable dress code for smart-casual PFI; spacemaking and how it's just as interesting as cookery; the role of 'design quality' in reversing global weather patterns. Gaviscon, though, has remained unruffled. Listening to people, half-smiling, keeping his options open and playing it cool. As an incumbent, he's positively cucumbent.
This is about to change. He has worked out that the chief cause of division and equality in society, and therefore within the profession, is not race or class. It is the M25. In the last few weeks he has visited architects trapped by low self-esteem in places such as Tyne and Wear, and Cornwall. 'Astonishing. Do you know how long that can take by train?' What surprised him was the 'cultural disconnect'. Very few of them give a toss who the next mayor of London is, for instance.
'It's absolutely amazing. There are at least a hundred if not hundreds of small-town or even rurally-based architects out there, usefully adding yet another layer of diversity and geography to the picture of the profession we had hitherto built up via telephone interviews...' He has a plan. 'I want to bring the profession together, then bring it together with other professions in the War on Weather. It is time for change. Unity of purpose. Public profile. Getting the message across. Corporate merchandise'.
He produces a stylish non-plastic shopping bag with I'm Being Held Up By A Caring Professional printed on it. Underneath is the world-famous RIPBA emblem: a patio heater flanked by two gay lions. Go, Team Gaviscon!
THURSDAY. Attend formal lunch at Clarence House as a hologram.
FRIDAY. Bad news. The new Secretary of State for Entertainment is 'loveable Scouse rogue' Azzy Bifter. We must brace ourselves for more Beatles, 'footy' and shouty references to LIVERPOOL 08. 'R A...' as they say on Merseyside. God, he's the second secretary so far this year, and it's not even Pancake Tuesday yet!
SATURDAY. Country and Western line-drawing.
SUNDAY. Thinkspace-specific perceptual abstraction in the recliner.