Your work may be shameless, but never, ever nameless...
The Parenthesis. The Fat Bonus. The Clumpty. The Saucy Dalek. The Eco-Eco-Bang-Bang. The Big Ask. The Dreamed Vortex. The Petrified Discharge
MONDAY. To the Department of Entertainment. I’ve been summoned by Mrs Shona Bifter, mother of entertainment secretary Azzy.
Although she’s 15 years younger than me and a foot shorter, Mrs B has complete sovereignty. I have to tuck my shirt in and Az must sit up straight before the meeting can start. Just one item on the agenda today, and it’s pretty serious.
The cultural policy wonks downstairs have been analysing ‘building names’ and according to their software Britain now languishes at the bottom of the World Nomenclature League. I take their point. In Seoul or Reykjavik, a new building is automatically assigned an architectural name by the relevant federal bureau of appellations. The result? Some nondescript bollocks is called The Sexy Rainbow Wand or Enfolding Love Bun. ‘Dhat’s civic pride, dhadis. We need moreh dhat bloody here!’ croaks Mma Bifter.
In Britain we leave all naming to our journalists, and they come up with desaturated rubbish. The Gherkin. The Shard. The – God help us – Cheese Grater. Worse, the hacks always pretend the buildings have been ‘dubbed’. When a journalist says ‘dubbed’ it means ‘given a nickname, by me’. Still, I point out, naming’s not exactly an urgent problem, is it? Nothing of note’s going to get built for a while, so…
‘What! Ever!’ interrupts Mrs Bifter, firmly. ‘Dhis is one problem we can fix while it’s raining so when dhe sun shines in due course like we will have dhe cultural roof in place…’ ‘That’s why we need a Nickname Czar, eh Mam?’ She ignores him, and jabs me in the chest.
‘YOU! I want 50 Proper Building Nicknames by dhe end of dhe week. DHEN we’ll see about any bloody Dczar, OK? I’m off…’ Once the door’s shut I untuck my shirt, defiantly, and give Azzy a ‘Chinese burn’.
TUESDAY. Competition brief. Is ‘connective tissue’ what we really want around an urban transport interchange? No. It sounds like the inside of a cheap meat pie.
WEDNESDAY. Retrofit Scottish arts and crafts, doubling the quantity of Scottishness to create a range of dishwasher-safe china called ‘McMacintosh’. Copyright stuff will be OK, he’s been dead for a while hasn’t he?
THURSDAY. Dusty the conservactionist looks haunted. It’s the concept of ‘delisting’. He thinks it at least as bad as designating someone a ‘non-person’. We can erase your character. You are worthless. So you will be erased.
I take his point. The DCMS reports do read like transcripts from a Maoist show trial. Mm, he says, half to himself. DCMS. They want… sabotaging in some way. He squints into the distance and drags on his roll-up.
FRIDAY. The Architectural Naming Czar gig would look great on my portfolio, which this year runs to half a page of A4. I email the following universally deployable building names to Mrs B:
The uPod. The Kebabel. The Shiny Tumulus. The Chamfered Cock. The Glazed Rictus. The Parenthesis. The Fat Bonus. The Clumpty. The Saucy Dalek. The Eco-Eco-Bang-Bang. The Big Ask. The Dreamed Vortex. The Petrified Discharge. The Stilty Lump. The Sentient Plume. The Perpendiculon. The Urban Stook. The Skyfister. The Messaging Ascender. The Pishtank. The Iconic Pandemonium. The Chip Naan. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Bosh. The Cloverfield Thunderbolt. The Laughing Prolapse. The Extrudel. The Batard. The Carbon-Retentive Colon. The Vertical Conga. The Paranoid Fishcake. The Aircosh. The Digital Tampon. The Niggling Appendix. The Satirical Standup. The Shish. The Glandmark. The Convincing Wig. The ! The Crispy Beacon. The Megaphor. The Arrested Gush. The Token Block. The Aerodoodle. The Heliographic Slatfarm. The Lifecake. The Courgetto. The Lesbian Tongue. The PFI Wi-Fi Pie. The End.
SATURDAY. Woken by the phone, which sounds angry even before I answer it. Mrs Bifter, incandescent. Azzy opened the email and read the names to her. She had to explain some words and will blame me ‘if Are Az goes on dhem bloody drugs next. You’re OUT! We’ve found a different soft lad…’
SUNDAY. Oh lovely. Brilliant. Idle scan of papers in the recliner. In The Creative on Sunday, a drivelly piece on The Preciousness Of Our Named Heritage. By the entertainment department’s new Architectural Dubbing Czar. A ‘Darcy Farquear’say’.
There’s a photo of him holding what looks like a squirming Beef Wellington. It may be a small dog. In some sort of fashionable polycarbonate sheath. Or not, who cares?