'Frank calls. He's proposing a Centre for Cultural Reconciliation, shaped like a carburettor, on the Mount of Olives'
MONDAY. My friend Amy the extreme eco-activist rings. She’s in her biofuel camper van, heading north.
A massive golf resort is planned for some blameless stretch of Scottish coast by Douglas Twanker, the billionaire US property developer and git. The first step for Amy and her crew is to lobby Holyrood and shout at the Shrek-faced, Shrek-voiced First Minister who allowed it to happen.
The second step is a permanent encampment on the proposed construction site, taking care not to frighten the wildlife. I give Amy a third by putting her in touch with Sandy, a ‘natural rights lawyer’ I know. He specialises in changing the status of an ecosystem from notional public property to ‘an entity with the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and all relevant evolutionary processes’.
Basically, he can turn a landscape into a plaintiff. I’m not convinced Amy will triumph, though. In the great struggle between ecology and egology, you can usually expect a Triumph of the Self.
TUESDAY. I’m still wondering if ‘egology’ is actually a word when my superstar-architect mate Frank rings. After years of support from the liberal press he’s suddenly under pressure, having designed a Museum of Tolerance. It is to be built on top of an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.
‘Goddam it!’ he barks. ‘I’m creating a landmark building promoting the principles of social responsibility and mutual fucking respect here...’ I listen sympathetically to his arguments. Opponents of the scheme are turning this into a political issue ‘just because they can’. It’s intolerable; goddam idiots obviously need a Museum of Tolerance as soon as possible, etc.
He must be right – he’s the most famous architect in the world. I’m sure any ethical problems were workshopped through at the briefing stage. I suggest a distraction – get the critics to focus on the architecture, which is preposterous. The renderings show a large internal space like a giant Halloween pumpkin. From the outside it looks like the table centrepiece for a really pretentious wedding breakfast.
‘It’s a stunning architectural statement, as well as accessible, goddam it!’ Mmm, accessible. As it’s in West Jerusalem I suppose they’ll advise any Muslim visitors to allow an extra day’s journey time for detention and processing.
WEDNESDAY. Amy texts from Scotland. Sandy’s on board, and is putting together a class action on behalf of 84 sand dunes. Now begins the time-consuming process of ascribing a legal name and personality to each one.
THURSDAY. Or ‘Thinktank Thursday’ as they’re now obliged to call it at the Department of Entertainment.
Once a week, all bloody day, everyone has to sit around drinking coffee and mindswarming. They think about market models, purchaser-provider splits, regulation of the arts, new media delivery, football, and who’s going to lose their job next. Sartorial codes are relaxed, so it’s like Dress Down Friday, except a day earlier and everyone looks more glamorous than usual.
At the apex of the brainstorming pyramid is Secretary of State for Entertainment Azzy Bifter. For the penthouse thinktank he’s assembled a small team of policy advisers presided over by his Mam. She accompanies him everywhere, making sure he eats his greens and has a clean hankie. ‘She keeps me grounded, God bless her,’ he says, with moistening eyes. I bet she does. He’s probably on a 9pm curfew.
Today we’re rethinking libraries and churches. Azzy wants them to be less stuffy and Tory, and to attract people like Russell Brand. For libraries, this would mean abolishing the silence rule, which for too long has discouraged whooping teenagers playing each other snatches of hip hop on their mobile phones.
Meanwhile, Azzy wants churches with low attendance turned into ‘gyms, restaurants, eh, I said gyms didn’eh. We need to relevate the C of E by making it secular, like’. He’s not kidding. Libraries and churches are to be ‘youthanised’.
FRIDAY. Frank calls. Diversionary tactic. He’s proposing a Centre for Cultural Reconciliation, shaped like a carburettor, on the Mount of Olives.
SATURDAY. Redesign Washington, making it more rhetorical and nuanced.
SUNDAY. Newspaper review in the recliner. An article about ‘the brilliant spatial awareness of Pompey’s main architect’ turns out not to be about Roman architecture during the Republic, but a report on Portsmouth FC’s new signing.